Elizabeth's Reviews > Between the Water and the Woods

Between the Water and the Woods by Simone Snaith
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really liked it
bookshelves: own

3.5 stars - A book I picked up for the illustrations, keeping an eye out for Kilpin.

I loved this little romance/adventure story. It was the sweet/feel good fantasy novel that was not all swords, violence, and the she-will-save-them-all motif. However, I do wish this wasn't so short, and in turn, more flushed out.

Emeline is from a small, disconnected village at the edge of the kingdom, surrounded by a protective moat from the dangerous woods. One day, Emeline's brother, Dale, crosses the moat on a dare, and encounters a Dark Creature, called the Ithin and when Emeline saves her brother via water lilies, her family must now travel to the Capital to tell the King of the new threat.

I loved the story telling in this book. Snaith's writing is easy to consume and she creates a strong family dynamic that we do not see much in the genre. Care not only extends to her father and brother, but to Mr. Fish, a farmer in the village, and her brother's pesky friend Aladane. The world is mystical and old, yet developing and constantly changing.

Yet, it is too simplistic. For example, the reader does not learn much about Emeline's magic, her mysterious late mother, dark creatures, or the "magic that was left to spoil." Within this world, there is a clear divide between science and magic, but the reader only gets a taste and neither side is truly explored; the danger in this world is present, but not truly felt; the social norms are not clearly defined in this world. The reader experiences the world through naive Emeline and her family as their village is so stuck in time, they do not use money, but barter instead, the rest of the world are using guns with silver bullets, carriages that run on steam, and eat meat from a cow, and not fish; they don't even have coffee. Devastating.

In turn, characters are not fully flushed out. The reader knows Emeline, but other than her bravery, protective tendencies, budding fear of her magical abilities, and feelings for Sir Reese, we don't know much else about her. Sir Reese, a character that is depicted as an Underdog, is not given details, but basic information. The budding romance between Reese and Emeline is sweet and innocent, yet was missing a small something.

The novel moved along well enough, but most of the book, the characters are travelling. By the time we are all in the city and learn some thematic political intrigue, the novel is on the way to wrapping up. The "twist" and final battle are interesting, definitely didn't see coming, but some of the magical wind was taken out of my sails.

I left the book satisfied for these characters, but incredibly curious. I wanted to see more of these characters and this world. I wanted to see more of Emeline's abilities. I wanted to know what the King decided! I wanted to see the romance fully develop between the two. Go Reese for being considerate of the entire family, by the way. You just don't see that type of consideration.

Truly, despite my above complaints, I would recommend this book. It's a sweet middle-grade story that I would love to read again. I will definitely keep an eye on this other to see how her writing develops over time.
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Reading Progress

August 24, 2020 – Started Reading
August 24, 2020 – Shelved
August 24, 2020 –
page 27
August 24, 2020 –
page 51
August 24, 2020 –
page 82
August 25, 2020 –
page 106
August 25, 2020 –
page 106
28.8% "Reese is very Mr. Darcy: rude and stares."
August 26, 2020 –
page 144
August 26, 2020 –
page 161
August 26, 2020 –
page 175
August 27, 2020 –
page 209
56.79% "Very slow paced for a short story"
August 27, 2020 –
page 245
August 27, 2020 – Finished Reading
January 15, 2021 – Shelved as: own

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