Authors: Catherine Knutsson
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #People & Places, #Canada, #Native Canadian, #Fantasy & Magic, #Social Issues, #General, #Social Themes, #Dystopian
awn rises like a gray dove. The air is cold and I haven’t slept at all. The Island looms before us. As the sun rises, its mountains ripple with golden light, with crimson, like a christening, a great homecoming. I wish it were both, but I know it’s neither.
Shadows Cast by Stars
WO HUNDRED YEARS
from now, blood has become the most valuable commodity on the planet–especially the blood of aboriginal peoples, for it contains antibodies that protect them from the Plague that is ravaging the rest of the world.
Sixteen-year-old Cassandra Mercredi might be immune to the Plague, but that doesn’t mean she’s safe. Government forces are searching for those of aboriginal heritage to harvest their blood. When a search threatens Cass and her family, they flee to the Island, a mysterious and idyllic territory protected by the Band, a group of guerilla warriors, and by an enigmatic energy barrier that keeps outsiders out and the spirit world in. And though the village healer has taken Cass under her wing, and the tribal leader’s son into his heart, the spirit world is angry, and it has chosen Cass to be its voice and instrument….
, like Cassandra Mercredi in the novel, is a member of the Métis nation. She lives on Vancouver Island, on which the fictional Island of her novel is based, and divides her time between working with horses, singing, and writing. This is her debut novel. For more information, visit
Jacket design by Lauren Rille
Jacket illustration copyright © 2012
by Sean Moser-Smith
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Simon & Schuster
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ATHENEUM BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
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This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 by Catherine Knutsson
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
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Book design by Hilary Zarycky
The text for this book is set in Fairfield.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Shadows cast by stars / Catherine Knutsson.
Summary: To escape a government that needs antigens in aboriginal blood to stop a plague, sixteen-year-old Cassandra and her family flee to the Island, where she not only gets help in communicating with the spirit world, she learns she has been chosen to be their voice and instrument.
ISBN 978-1-4424-0191-4 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4424-0193-8 (eBook)
[1. Science fiction. 2. Indians of North America—Fiction. 3. Spirits—Fiction. 4. Family life—Fiction. 5. Brothers and sisters—Fiction. 6. Twins—Fiction.] I. Title.
Writing a book is a collaborative task. I am so grateful for the many eyes and hands who have touched this story as it made its way from idea to book.
To Caitlyn Dlouhy and her team at Atheneum: my gratitude for helping me polish this story until it shone.
To the River Writers: Shari, Kristin, Diana, and Sheena, for all the laughs and support and advice along the way.
To my international cast of writer friends: Deb, Jo, Rabia, Ryan, Cat, and Jen, for reading the various drafts and offering such sage and generous advice. And especially, my undying thanks to Elena, for pushing me and encouraging me to break the rules I had created for myself. I am a better writer and better person for knowing you.
To the women of SIFM: such shining examples of strength! My gratitude for your unwavering encouragement, support, and friendship.
To my sister, Carmen, for always being there, no matter what.
To Diana Fox: my heartfelt thanks for all that you have done. You have been a true champion and friend through all this. I couldn’t have done it without you.
And, last but never least, to Mikel Knutsson, for picking me up when I fell down (repeatedly!) and for never losing faith in me, even when I had lost it myself.
e live the Old Way. Our house, constructed of wood timber and roofed with asphalt shingles, straddles the boundary where the wasteland and the northernmost edge of the Western Population Corridor meet. This land was once my great-grandfather’s farm. Once was. Hasn’t been for a long time.
Every morning, my brother and I rise before dawn, make the trek to the mag-station, and ride into the Corridor to attend school, where we plug into the etherstream via the chip in our forearm. By law, our chip-traces can’t display any information about race, religion, or sexual orientation, but our classmates have always known that Paul and I are Others, of aboriginal descent, marked by the precious Plague antibodies in our blood.
Every afternoon, we make the return trip, riding the mag-train to the end of its line before walking back home along the old dirt road. Behind us, smog from the Corridor reaches north, stretching its ugly yellow fingers as far as it can as it tries to snatch up the last of the habitable land. Not long ago, a reserve was here, lodged in the Corridor’s throat, but all that remains now is our home. We are the only ones who have stayed, clinging to what little is ours, defiantly living as we always have, without computers and etherstreams and data-nets in our home, without food gels, without central heat. This is our choice. This is what it means to live the Old Way.
Today the walk seems longer than usual, because Paul isn’t talking to me. He got into a fight earlier in the day, but it’s not his split lip or his gashed knuckles that have me so worried. Paul’s on disciplinary action for fighting and truancy as it is, which is tough on both of us.
Why can’t you be more like your sister?
the teachers always say to him.
Why can’t you help your brother?
they say to me. We’re twins, Paul and me, but we’re not alike—not anymore, at least. Paul’s always had a short fuse, but lately it’s gotten shorter.
Now he walks beside me, slump-shouldered as his battered raven flies next to him. The raven is Paul’s shade, his spirit animal, and it always shows up after
something bad happens to him. Today it was some kid who was looking for a scapegoat to blame for his brother dying of Plague. The rest who joined in? Well, no one in the Corridor needs an excuse to stick it to an Other.