Published by Chronicle Books on April 14th, 2015
Genres: fantasy, middle grade
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For as long as Lottie Fiske can remember, the only people who seem to care about her have been her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter-writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things and people are arriving on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot’s getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless.
And then a door opens in the apple tree.
Follow Lottie down through the apple roots to another world—a world of magic both treacherous and beautiful—in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.
As you probably know by now, I am trying really hard to read a good portion of middle grade this year. Every year I say I want to read more and then I Just get sidetracked and don’t do it. Now the middle grade books are REALLY stacking up on my shelves, plus I requested a good portion from publishers this year. I have committed myself and I intend to follow through.
The Water and the Wild is my third middle grade book of 2015. I had been anticipating this book ever since I saw the cover on Cover Snark. I voted for it as my favorite, and since I found out from the author that this is a duology, I cannot WAIT to see what the cover of the sequel looks like! And I also pre-ordered a copy of this one. Also, the author? She is the sweetest and the cutest.
But the book. It was adorable. There were so many things I loved about it. The characters were well developed, and had distinctly different personalities and voices. The protagonist, Lottie, was the quintessential middle grade heroine–spunky, humorous, and wildly intelligent. Her adventuring partners were just as intriguing–even Adelaide, though she annoyed the crap out of me at first. She was spoiled and snobby. She kept calling people “unrefined” but a lot of it was a defense mechanism. Her character arc was well done and on point. And you know it’s a great book when even the side characters have pretty awesome story arcs. I think there may be a potential love interest here in Oliver, and I loved him too.
Okay, so one very important detail about this series is something called the “keen.” Every sprite has a keen, and basically what that is is one of the six senses is developed beyond the realm of normal capability. Adelaide has extreme hearing. She can hear conversations from blocks away. Fife can smell how people are feeling so he knows how to act around them accordingly. Oliver has a particular affliction that is a bit of a spoiler, so I can’t say. Lottie is half human, half sprite, and they do not have a keen. But because she is a Fiske (a descendant of a long line of sprite rulers) many think she can control people with her words and make them do what she wants, but she can’t.
All this stuff is very important to the plot, and it’s a very intricate plot. All the little details are adorable, like apple trees that turn into elevators with the tug of a branch, which sends the person in the tree down through the earth and out the other side into an alternate world (where the sprites live) that is a mirror of earth but also different. You’ll see when you read it. 😉
There are courts: The Southerly Court and the Northerly Court,and all manner of creatures in this alternate version of Lottie’s world.
Basically, the book is almost perfect. The story is so much fun and intriguing, and I loved it. The writing was simple but detailed at the same time. If there was one thing I can complain about (and this is the tiniest nitpick), it’s that the pacing was a bit off in places. I just found myself getting a bit bored during certain scenes. Particular conversations maybe went on for a bit too long. But the good thing was it got back on track quickly and then it was off and running again.
I loved The Water and the Wild. I highly recommend this book. I know a lot of readers are afraid they won’t like middle grade, but don’t be! A good story is a good story, regardless of a character’s age. Take the plunge! Start with this one. Because it’s awesome.