One of my bookish blogging goals this year was to try and get started on taking author/publisher requests and also start investing some time into improving my NetGalley feedback score.
It was such a thrill when Elizabeth Foster contacted me after reading one of my reviews for Odyssey Books and asked me if I would also be interested in reading her novel Esme’s Wish in exchange for an honest review. I’m so pleased that I did, this was a wonderful fantasy series starter to lose myself in during the last few weeks of what was a really crazy school year! Huge thanks to Elizabeth for getting in touch and sending me her e-book.
Book: Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster
Genre: Middle Grade/YA Fantasy
Publication Date: October 30th 2017
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?
But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.
After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.
Winner of a Purple Dragonfly Book Award for best fantasy.
“A fresh new fantasy of an enchanting world.” – Wendy Orr, New York Times best selling author of Nim’s Island.
Esperance is such a beautifully crafted world to lose my bookish mind in. The waterways and canals winding through the city instantly made me reminisce about one of my favourite holidays spent in Venice, Italy. I’m also a huge fan of any worlds where water is a feature (seriously, I think I must have been a fish in a former life!). The frequent references to fountains, sea portals, caves, sirens and sea hawks made me put this world firmly on my fictional travels bucket list.
Esme is quite a young character and her emotions are clearly laid out for the reader to see. You witness her turmoil over the loss of her mother and also her anger at her father for remarrying and beginning a new life. As the story progresses, Esme’s determination and resilience grow alongside the plot and it was nice to see those rites of passage elements in the story as Esme branches off on her mission to discover what happened to her mother. I enjoyed the way her friendships and personality grew throughout the story as she left her world and travelled into the magical world of Esperance.
Mythology and magic run strongly throughout the whole story and I loved picking out those mythology-inspired references which were woven throughout. The book features brilliant creatures such as sirens, stygians and (woohoo!) dragons! I really enjoyed the character Augustine who is a keeper of magic – he added a quirky wizard-like dimension to the story with a diviner rod named Willow which reminded me of Dr. Strange’s Cape in some crazy way that the keeper and his diviner are pretty much a team but the objects are sentient and have a mind of their own.
The story itself is pretty much a quest which is based on a number of clues leading from one to the next, gradually unravelling the story. Whilst in my adult head I was expecting and predicting that some of these would happen, my teacher head was thinking about how perfect this book would be for some of my more reluctant readers and students. Descriptions and vocabulary are on point in this. Vocabulary is such a buzz-word in the teaching world now as children are exposed to fewer words and this has a massive impact upon their reading and writing progress. Esme’s Wish is such a brilliant book to try and inspire this love of words as it is littered with so many wonderful ones and as a logophile myself, this was one of my favourite aspects of the writing.
‘The pool settled back into peaceful somnolence, winking at her in the sunlight.’
‘Life is such a fragile thing. Like butterfly wings.’
‘Water has a memory of its own. It stores within itself the history of all it sees.’
‘She was the thread that ran through all things, unravelling the world at will. She could create, or destroy, at her whim. Time had no meaning here. Death was merely an abstraction.’
Why Should I Read This?
For the vocabulary and the writing.
For the sirens, waterways and dragons.
For the amazing world of Esperance.
Esme’s Wish is perfect for the Middle Grade age range and those who are starting out to explore the fantasy genre. Equally, if you’re an adult who loves your mythological references or fantasy islands filled with fountains, seas, magical portals and dragons then this could also be the perfect book for you to escape into a light yet welcoming fantasy world.