The Water And The Wild by K. E. Ormsbee, April 14, 2015. Chronicle Books, 448 pages. Ages 8-12.
Lottie Fiske is a young girl who has had a fairly solitary life. She was orphaned as a baby, and taken in by kindly Mr. Yates, who's untimely passing left her in the care of his not-so-kindly wife. Mrs. Yates was not cruel, but she was rather cold, brusque, and uncaring. Lottie never fit in with the other children on Kemble Isle and was often bullied. She found solace in her apple tree, and her only friend Elliot.
On her 6th birthday, she received a mysterious letter telling her about her parents, with a picture of them enclosed. On the back of the picture was written "If you should ever need anything, write back." She wrote back requesting hair ribbons, but had no address to send it to, so she stuck the note inside the apple tree. To her surprise, on her next birthday, she received the hair ribbon she had requested from "the letter-writer." This continued until her twelfth birthday, when Lottie made a much more serious request. Her only friend Elliot was very sick, and getting sicker, so Lottie asked for Elliot to be cured.
Six months later, however, she gets some very dire news. Elliot's condition has continued to worsen, and his doctor predicts that he had only 2 to 3 weeks left to live. As Lottie bikes home in the rain, she is nearly crushed by a falling tree, but is yanked out of the way at the last minute by a mysterious hero who leaves his mark on her arm. Then, when she gets home, she finds a strange girl named Adelaide in her room who claims to have been sent to bring her to Adelaide's father because she was in danger here. Adelaide leads her to her beloved apple tree, pulls down on one of the branches, and a door opens up! Then Lottie is whisked away through the apple tree on an amazing journey to a magical world full of sprites, will o'wisps, barghests, danger, and intrigue.
What does Lottie learn about herself and her parents? Will she be able to find a cure and get back in time to save Elliot? Why is the sprite king after her?
My library was a little late getting this book, but I chose to read it because I found out the author happens to live in my town. It is a fast-paced story full of magic, mystery, and adventure. I think the author did a fairly good job creating a magical world of her own imaginations, re-inventing some familiar terms, such as sprite and will-o'-the-wisp and making up new magical creatures from her own imaginations. I think anyone who likes this genre will like this book as well.
I would recommend this for middle-grade (and up) readers who enjoy magical fantasy that is fast paced and not too dark. I think it might appeal in to fans of The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice In Wonderland, The Circus Mirandus, and readers who were fans of fairy stories, Peter Pan, etc., but are now ready for something longer and more complex. It might appeal to fans of Harry Potter, though the plot is considerable faster, or Percy Jackson, as they all deal with magic or special powers, and main characters who find out they are only half human and must negotiate a magical world they never knew existed.
I only have two criticisms of this book, (1) the title really isn't related to the story at all; I like titles that make sense and are more indicative of what the book is about, and (2) It didn't really have an ending, many issues in the magic world were left unresolved, and it wasn't really made clear if that was it, or if there is going to be a sequel.
Other Books By This Author
The Water And The Wild is K. E. Ormsbee's debut novel, with an un-titled sequel due out in Fall of 2016. A stand-along middle grade fantasy, The House In Poplar Wood is due out in 2017. Her first YA novel, Lucky Few, is expected to be published in Summer of 2016 by Simon & Schuster and is about a homeschooled teen confronting his anxiety about death.