Telesa: The Covenant Keeper by Lani Wendt Young – Book Review

Posted by on Aug 2, 2013 in LGBTQIA, Race and Ethnicity, Review | 0 comments

Telesa: The Covenant Keeper by Lani Wendt Young – Book Review

by Kelly Matsuura


 From the Blurb:

When Leila moves to her new home, all she wants is a family, a place to belong. Instead she discovers the local ancient myths of the telesa spirit women are more than just scary stories. The more she finds out about her heritage, the more sinister her new home turns out to be. Embraced by a Covenant Sisterhood of earth’s elemental guardians – what will Leila choose? Her fiery birthright as a telesa? Or will she choose the boy who offers her his heart? Daniel – stamped with the distinctive tattoo markings of a noble Pacific warrior and willing to risk everything for the chance to be with her. Can their love stand against the Covenant Keeper?

Lani Wendt Young is a Samoan author who has written a stand-out paranormal series popular with teens and adults alike. There are three novels and one novella in the series:

  • #1 Telesa: The Covenant Keeper
  • #1.5 I am Daniel Tahi (Novella)
  • #2 When Water Burns
  • #3 The Bone Bearer (New release)

The story is told from the heroine, Leila Folger’s, point-of-view, but all other characters are well-defined and diverse. Leila is a strong and glowing main character: she has to deal with grief, abandonment, life changes, new love, culture shock, and the burden of secrets, not to mention the supernatural power she feels growing inside her. She certainly doesn’t breeze through any of these issues, but faces them head-on as they come, and isn’t too stubborn to lean on Daniel or another special person when needed. She embraces life and school in Samoa with enthusiasm, and discovers a natural talent for siva dancing. The performances are described so beautifully; be warned: you will sigh out loud!

Daniel Tahi, Leila’s love interest is everything you could want in a Pacific warrior: strong, sexy, tattooed, and always there when you need a friend. He seems to be good at everything: rugby, singing, debating, fire-controlling, even welding (yes, he welds! *cue Flashdance theme*). But, he is really down-to-earth too.

The connection between Leila and Daniel is so enchanting and believable. Both have grown up missing a parent or parents, but are stronger for it, and both are fiercely loyal to the people in their life. When they meet, there’s an instant bond of understanding and shared feelings about being different and being alone.

There was a nice balance between action, romance, and cultural elements in the novel. I haven’t been to Samoa before, but it was easy to visualize the landscape and lifestyle of the people in the story. The subtle use of Samoan words helped pull me into the experience of discovering another culture. This novel is a great representation of diversity in Pacific nations. Even in Samoa a country of only 70,000 people, there is a mix of nationalities. Leila and Daniel are half-palagi (westerners) and Daniel’s grandmother is Tongan. Leila’s friend Simone is a lively fa’afafine – an accepted third gender in Samoa, and the Telesa story highlights the natural integration of teen fa’afafine in their high school. It was really interesting and great to see such positive diversity in a YA story.

I enjoyed The Covenant Keeper so much and I plan to read the following books in the series.


This book review was written by Visibility Fiction author, Kelly Matsuura.

Links for Telesa: The Covenant Keeper – Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook.

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