April 19, 2009

Review: Watersmeet

Where did the time go? I haven't even started my essay (approx. 1400 words) due Tuesday. And that professor is one hard grader.

I don't think I'll do In My Mailbox this week - I didn't get much and I'm too tired from traveling. But here's something else fun!

Book Cover

By Ellen Jensen Abbott

Abisina lives in a repressive community, following the laws/religious codes of Vran, which declare her an outcast. The only reason she wasn't exposed to the elements at birth was her mother's powerful position as the village healer. But another charismatic leader is about to come to power, and his rise is bad news for all the outcasts - human and other.

Events cause Abisina to seek her father, in the far village of Watersmeet. But her journey causes her to face her own prejudices, and realize she's not the only one discriminated against. Ellen Jensen Abbott does a wonderful job of showing how being oppressed and mistreated doesn't stop you from doing the same to others - and that it's hard to learn to do anything else. It's not very subtle and at times I worried some of the metaphors/allegories were too bold, but I think the message is well presented for the age level.

The publisher, Marshall Cavendish, is marketing the book as twelve and up, but I think younger kids will enjoy it to provided they don't mind a little violence. (Nothing that's not in a Disney movie, to be honest.) I know I would've been happy if I found WATERSMEET on the shelves in elementary school.

It's got a lot of the classic fantasy elements - secret parentage, fantastic sentient creatures, a quest, and a climatic battle. But Abbott doesn't make the proceedings route - she imbues the characters with a variety of reasonable backgrounds and desires. It's a tale of cultures clashing as much as it is a fantastic quest, and that needs development of societies and mindsets.

WATERSMEET is a very quick read, at least for someone older. A class was unexpectedly cancelled and I read the entire novel waiting for the next class to begin. (Minus the time ducking into a convenience store to buy some cheese because the opening made me really hungry for it. That's the power of description for you.) I enjoy picking up something that can make me think while maintaining forward momentum.

WATERSMEET is Abbott's first novel, and it's an excellent start to her writing career. (The way it ends makes me hope that there will be a sequel. Things tie up, but there's certainly room to explore more of the world.) Abbott is a member of the Class of 2k9 and writes a blog. There will be an interview with her on this blog, though it's not her fault I don't know when - I haven't sent the questions yet. (Oh, how lazy the end of the semester makes me.)

ETA: WATERSMEET is available now. It was released the first of the month.


  1. I'm looking forward to this one. It sounds great and if it'll make me want cheese all the better.

  2. Wow! Sounds like my kind of book!

  3. Sounds really good. :) Thanks for the review.


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