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The Dry

4.4  ·  Rating Details ·  115 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
West Virginia, 1895.
A deadly dry spell has left the earth parched and souls desperate. Crops are failing. Cities are starving. A missing newspaper man doesn’t account for much in times so terrible, except to the twelve-year-old son he left behind. When Elliot Sweeney discovers the search for his father has been called off, he boards a train alone to find him.

His quest lea
Kindle Edition, 251 pages
Published November 12th 2013 by SkipJack Publishing (first published January 1st 2013)
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The Dry by R.L. NolenMy First Travel Angelic Airline Adventures by Anna OthitisSeven Wonders Of The World by Anna OthitisThe Hob and the Deerman by Pat  WalshFoster Fox by William D. Writer
Christian Children's Fantasy
1st out of 28 books — 73 voters
The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleMatilda by Roald DahlThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Dry by R.L. Nolen
Fantasy Goodreads for 9-12 years
5th out of 266 books — 404 voters

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Community Reviews

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“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”

----Jim Morrison

R.L. Nolen, an American author, has penned an enticing as well as thrilling middle grade book, The Dry , which traces the journey of a 12-year old boy who embarks on a path to search for his newspaper journalist father who went missing after he went to look for the missing children, possibly involved in child slavery, in some dilapidated part of a s
Jan Raymond
Mar 30, 2014 Jan Raymond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I haven’t read a book that kept me glued to it, in a while. This one did! The Dry was like an exciting combination of Stephen King and Tolkein. It reminded me a lot of the “The Dark Tower” series by Stephen King, but in a style that children and adults could understand and enjoy.

The setting of the book is fantastical and the description, detailed. You can visualize and feel “The Dry” ambience, which permeates the book. This is not just a quest, it is also a coming of age portrayal of Elliot Swe
Cheriee Weichel
This review is from my blog at
In 1895, the state of Virginia was experiencing a "deathly dry," a drought so intense that "thick clouds of dust hung chest high all day. Open windows let it inside where it coated every surface." In the midst of this, a journalist, Sam Sweeney, left his son with his uncle, and set off to discover why children were going missing from a coal mine. Then he too he disappeared. Three months later, when the search for him was called off
Kathryn Svendsen
The Dry is a historical fantasy or fairytale set in the late 1890’s of Virginia when children were used to work in the coal mines. A desperate drought has taken place in the area and Elliot has been left with his Uncle Nat while his newspaperman father searches out the story of missing children. He doesn't return when he's supposed to and so three months past his expected return date, Elliot, feeling his uncle's disgruntlement at his continued presence, sets out to find his father.

Elliot travels
Billy Buttons
Oct 14, 2015 Billy Buttons rated it really liked it
This book was entered in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. This is what our readers thought:

Title: The Dry
Author: Rebecca Nolan
Star Rating: 4 stars
Number of Readers: 16

Readers’ Comments
‘This is a fun adventure story with lots of fantastatical elements thrown in. There’s a strong plot and lots of twists and turns to keep the reader interested.’ Parent
‘Fantastic cover. The story was a little like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where Lucy finds a magical world. Lots happening.’ Girl, aged 10
Feb 27, 2014 PatW rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoy fantasy adventures like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and The Golden Compass, you will enjoy Rebecca Nolen’s The Dry. The story will engage young readers and adults alike. It is full of adventure that is packed with life lessons.

Crisp dialog moves along smoothly making it a pleasure to read aloud. Chapters are short, so the book is well suited for very busy schedules. As the plot thickens, a colorful cast-of-characters offer up much to discuss about courage, fear, loyalty, ethics
Tom Sechrist
Aug 28, 2014 Tom Sechrist rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Dry” by Rebecca Nolen is a well written and engaging story about a young man who is searching for his father. His search lands him in the very bowels of the planet to find a world that no one would ever believe existed; a desert like world where water is scarce, the insects are gigantic and abuses of all manner abound.

Young Elliot is joined on his quest by a girl named Lefty who is searching for her missing brother. They are joined by Jack and an adorable blind mule named Beulah.

Rebecca Nol
Dec 22, 2013 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review on “The Dry” by Rebecca Nolen.

The Dry is an unexpected late Christmas joy. The author eases you into a beautifully sketched world that demands in a soft voice that you stay and enjoy the ride. The prose is fluid and flows from page to page but never lets go of the reader hand for a moment. A very rare feat is that Rebecca Nolen’s writing style is instantly accessible to all readers, no matter the age or background. Another big plus point is the use of emotive language that makes us care d
Susan Tarr
Apr 16, 2014 Susan Tarr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Without preamble, Nolen rips right into the story and character-building at a wonderful pace. What an intricate maze of a plot! What magnificent colours and descriptions. And the sounds made by giant insects is surreal. I never knew only female wasps sting, or that there is a cicada wasp and a fairy wasp. Or many of those other interesting entomological gems.
And what an awesome picture book, or animated movie, this would make. CS Lewis. Tolkein. Stephen King. Starfish falling ‘off’ the sky, wate
E. Writes
Reminiscent of Curdy's Goblin worlds of George MacDonald and the "anything can happen" quest of the Wizard of Oz, the Dry mixes cruel coal mining conditions with a fantastical underworld, magical creatures, and more bugs than you can shake a stick at.
The wasps featured prominently on the side of evil, but ended up being portrayed as ultimately good, a conclusion which my many wasp-stinged-memories have trouble with.

An uncomplicated plot and a somewhat guessable twist was cleverly veiled enou
Charles Ray
Mar 02, 2014 Charles Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Dry by Rebecca Nolen is a novel that you will find impossible to put down – I know, I got a free review copy, and it grabbed my attention and refused to let go until I was done. An epic story of young Elliot Sweeney’s search for his missing father, it covers the waterfront of greed, exploitation, and child slavery.
Nolen is a master craftsman who uses dialogue and description to pull the reader into an unbelievable world of enslaved children and other-worldly creatures. But, she makes us beli
Angie Martin
Aug 27, 2014 Angie Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Dry” by Rebecca Nolen is quite the surprising treat! The book gripped me almost instantly and it wasn’t long before I experienced the familiar pangs of fear in my gut. The tale of Elliot and his search for his missing father is woven beautifully and kept me hooked. The writing style is fast-paced and easy to keep up with. Nolen gives just enough detail to keep the reader satisfied without overburdening the narrative. There are little spooks and creeps scattered throughout, but when the ...more
Dee Leone
Jul 15, 2014 Dee Leone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the world building of this book, the continuous action, and the clever use of names and phrases that were the same whether they were read backwards or forwards.

The author uses a lot of details to help the reader visualize the magical realm of the world below ground… a place where giant insects and other creatures live on one side of a divide or the other.

Evil lurks in many places, but the main character, Elliott, manages to overcome the obstacles thrown in his path as he seeks to fin
Jennifer Loiske
May 21, 2014 Jennifer Loiske rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A real page-turner!

I was immediately swept into the world of Elliot Sweeney when I started this book. I loved the author’s writing style and the language, which is very vivid and beautiful. This historical fantasy reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia, and I found myself mesmerized by the suspense and action; served with a hint of horror. The story really kept me glued until the very end and I can’t wait what the author has reserved for her readers in the future.

All though this is a coming of
Rhonda Erb
Mar 20, 2016 Rhonda Erb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Although this book is geared toward a younger audience and I'm not generally drawn to the fantasy genre, I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Rebecca Nolen is a skilled storyteller with a talent for laying out vivid descriptions. I fell in love with some of the minor characters, like Beula (the burrow) and Whitford (the hilariously indignant otter). I can see The Dry being made into a movie. In fact, I hope it will be. :)
Anthony Hulse
Oct 20, 2014 Anthony Hulse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply superb!
Rebecca Nolan takes us on an incredible journey into a fantasy world thriving with wondrous and sometimes frightening creatures. Written in a way that will appeal to all ages. Such vivid images and a host of marvellous characters ensure this book is truly engaging. This was well-paced and so imaginative. I’m certain this would make an awesome movie. I’m sure we’ll hear more from this gifted author.
L. Fabry
Feb 10, 2014 L. Fabry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Grab your middle grade kids and settle down with this book. You'll journey through a magic land of mines, mountains, and mystical creatures to follow a boy's journey to find his lost father. Elloit and the girl known as "Lefty" teach what the importance of friendship, family, and staying true to yourself.
Jul 23, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I thought the book was absolutely fantastic to read. I had happy tears in my eyes as I read the last chapter of such an amazing story. I would definitely read this story again and again. I was so excited when I got The Dry in the mail I was absolutely hooked. I enjoyed reading it so much. I don't think I could have read it fast enough! The Dry is definitely one of my new favorite books.
Jul 16, 2014 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was so exciting. Once started, I could hardly put it down. Read the whole thing in 3 days. For me, that's quick. I love the freaky insects and the riddles. It kept me riveted. Thanks for a great read!
Harmony Kent
Inspired by watching the battles of various bugs and critters in her garden, and their continual fight for survival, the author came up with the ideas for 'The Dry'. The book is set in West Virginia in 1895, and looks at the plight of the children of the mines during that era. It starts off in the real world, and very soon delves beneath the earth into a whole other kingdom.

In this new world, twelve year old Elliot finds himself surrounded by monsters, villains, and many riddles to solve. If he
William Stuart
Jul 30, 2015 William Stuart rated it it was amazing
As with most of my recent reads, I saw some buzz about The Dry on Twitter, so I checked it out. The blurb was intriguing, and I picked it up. Good choice!

Synopsis (from the author): West Virginia, 1895
A deadly dry spell has left the earth parched and souls desperate. Crops are failing. Cities are starving. A missing newspaper man doesn't account for much in times so terrible, except to the twelve-year-old son he left behind. When Elliot Sweeney discovers the search for his father has been called
Mar 27, 2014 Deborah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, story-cartel
2.5 stars

Another reviewer has compared The Dry to Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, which is a serious overstatement of both Rebecca Nolen's writing and her world-building. While it started off as mildly entertaining, The Dry quickly became a runaway mess, with too many plot strands for such a short book. In addition to the main storyline, in which Elliot Sweeney is trying to find his missing father, there were several other stories which were hinted at but not developed: the schism betwee
Sep 10, 2014 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
*I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest opinion; spoilers possible*

Summary: Elliot Sweeney hops on a train looking for his father and finds himself in a fantasy world.

Random Comments:
The beginning of this book started off strong. I loved the characterization done with Lefty, but events midway through all but removed her from the book for a good chunk. To me, that left the middle floundering for a "human touch." The nymphs and talking creatures were decently drawn but that la
Liz Janet
Sep 07, 2016 Liz Janet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Okay, it seems I will be the only one to give this book a bad review. I was hoping to give it a two stars but I just could not. Now this is my opinion, and by no means should someone find this as the "one true word." Let me start with aesthetics since it is easier to explain. THIS IS NOT A COVER FOR CHILDREN. Then I got to read the book. Okay, I did not like the characters and saw no development. Everything happened so quickly there was no c
Demelza Carlton
Dec 02, 2014 Demelza Carlton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
An interesting concept for middle grade readers with the unusual thread winding through about the goodness of wasps.

Child labour, parental love, loyalty, trust and purity...ooh, there's a lot of themes running through this book, all culminating in an ending that leaves the door wide open for a sequel, while not ending in a cliffhanger.

There's a whole series of wasp facts at the start of each chapter of this book, which I found difficult to connect to the content of some of the chapters they wer
Rebecca Nolen
Aug 26, 2016 Rebecca Nolen rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
This is a children's book with crossover appeal. Set in the coal country of West Virginia in 1895 during what was a historic drought that devastated the region. Could the drought have been caused by a madman below the mine, using the blood of children to power his mad machine that sucks the earth dry? This playful mix of fact and fiction brings to light a power play between good and evil that leaves you guessing.
Mar 06, 2014 Myeve123 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A boy who searches for his missing father... hmm where did I hear that premise before :D I liked the premise so I picked the book. Great world building; I like the setting/description of the draught (and the thirst for water). I rooted for Elliot the protagonist, and although I skimmed over the last chapters (the battle), I enjoyed the ride this book gave me.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for honest review.
I received this book as a first reads giveaway from Goodreads. This book has a very good premise. I realize this book is written for maybe grades 3-6 but I found the writing very minimalistic. There were many instances in the book where a bit more backstory and explanation or description would have served the story well.
Aug 19, 2014 Rebecca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: won-giveaways
I received this book because I won a giveaway.
I cannot make it past page 67. I've been forcing myself to read it. Maybe it's just not the right genre for me, but I wasn't ever hooked. Nothing in this book made me want to keep reading.

I'm not saying this is a bad book. I'm just saying it wasn't for me. If you enjoy over the top descriptions about huge bug people, you'll love this.
Patricia Kaniasty
I guess I just did not see what most everyone else did about this book. I did not find it creepy or fascinating. I found it to be a little confusing at times. Nothing really stuck out as great with this story. I was reaaly looking foward to reading it too.
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I live and work in Houston, TX. I am a Texan, so an occasional y'all slips out in conversation. I am an avid reader and must have stacks on my to-be-read shelves at all times. I am in a few book clubs and reading circles. I read suspense, British murder mysteries, YA, and children's books. I am asked often to write reviews, but I only do reviews for books that I could discuss with my saintly ...more
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