This book was reviewed for Wayward Press via Netgalley
Lakey’s Black Bead will snatch you up, racing headlong behind Cheobawn and her Pack on their harrowing First Foray. Cheobawn, and her protector Megan, are the newest members Tam’s recently forged pack. He wants Megan, as only females can be the Ear for a Pack, picking up the noise in the ambient to warn of dangers, and in creating elaborate mental maps. Megan will only agree if Cheobawn is allowed to as well. Unfortunately, Cheobawn is a Black Bead, considered chaotic and unlucky. Tests are given at age three, to determine what colour bead a person will wear, delineating the society into a random, arbitrary caste system based upon this criteria. Indeed, children who gain a Black Bead are usually shunned, and oft outright killed, in order to stave off their supposed bad luck.
Tam decides to accept Cheobawn into his Pack. She is the better Ear of the two girls. Their very first foray illustrates Cheobawn’s chaotic luck. She lead them to a wondrous place, a sheltered glade, just in time for the first flight of baby glasslizards (I want one). Rather than foraging, the group loiters in the glade, falling asleep and missing when they should have started back home. And thus did Cheobawn’s luck change. The Pack begins a headlong flight back home, with their powerful Ear in lead. Will they make it back to safety in time? If they do, will the people Cheobawn wish to call friend turn against her too?
The themes of synchronicity, and interconnectedness, run a vivid vein of silver through the story. The glasslizard incident triggered, in a manner, all of the following incidents after it, both good and bad. I follow a spiritual path that involves rune work, and see these energies inherent in all things. I also see people as being primarily tied to one rune collective above all others. Cheobawn is a perthroi. She is very tuned to the Perthro, or probability, inherent in all things. She followed this to get home, tweaking the probabilities when she could. This made me very excited. I haven’t found many Perthro oriented characters in books.
I think Cheobawn’s people need to recognise the value of Chaos. I think most people in reality do as well. Cheobawn would be blessed of Loki. Chaos beckons necessary change, and all destruction leads to new growth. It’s also completely impartial. The nature of Bear Under the Mountain supports this within the story. There are great lessons here about cooperation, and the valuable insights that could be lost if you discount one person (or class of people) because of arbitrary class distinctions.
????? Highly recommended