Jan's Reviews > The Water Seeker

The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt
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's review
Jan 18, 2011

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bookshelves: teenbooks, historical-fiction

Traces the hard life, filled with losses, adversity, and adventure, of Amos, son of a trapper and dowser, from 1833 when his mother dies giving birth to him until 1859, when he himself has grown up and has a son of his own

A richly detailed historical novel about the pioneers taking the Oregon Trail. The pace is slow, but that is obviously the intent of the author who takes her time in developing the story and the characters. Some of the characters did not strike me as completely authentic—sometimes they were a bit too folk tale colorful (Pirate Pete) and the character of Blue Owl is the stereotypical “taciturn squaw” caricature. The character of Amos is nicely developed, though. As is the character of Henrietta. Told by Amos in third person.

The elements of magic realism ( the birds, the vision of Delilah) seem forced and really rather pointless.

The best part of the novel is the wonderfully descriptive account of the excitement and dangers of traveling West to Oregon. The romance between Amos and Gwendolyn is satisfying. The dialogue and historical details really evoke that time period. But nothing about this book really takes it from good to great. Pleasant story, but not that memorable.


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