Thursday, June 25, 2009

Book Review: Watersmeet by Ellen Jensen Abbott

From her birth, Abisina has been outcast--for the color of her eyes and skin, and for her lack of a father. Only her mother's status as the village healer has kept her safe. But when a mythic leader arrives, Abisina's life is ripped apart. She escapes alone to try to find the father and
the home she has never known. In a world of extremes, from the deepest prejudice to the greatest bonds of duty and loyalty, Abisina must find her own way and decide where her true hope lies.

It seems that lately I've been reading books in which some (or all) of the plot involves the subject of prejudice. Watersmeet was no exception. The lead character, Abisina, experiences it on a daily basis. Why, you may ask? It's because her dark hair and skin keep her from embodying the image of Vran (the man who spread his settlement into free territory and cast out the "monsters"). So, Abisina is treated as an outcast, her only refuge is her mother, the village healer. While her life certainly isn't desirable, it is bareable. Until one night she is forced to flee her village, leaving her mother behind.

What I enjoyed most about this book (a 2009 debut) was the growth of the heroine. At the start of the book, Abisina hates "monsters", even though she has been treated as one throughout her life. A great example of this is shown by her relationship with Hoysta, a dwarf. Despite that fact that Hoysta nursed her back to health, Abisina still fears her. Over the course of the novel, however, Abisina is forced to confront the ideas she's been taught, and think of what loyalty and acceptance truely mean to her. Eventually she comes to the realization that not every non-human can be labelled "bad", just like every Vranian can't be called "good".

Abbott's debut was an interesting read. There were times when I loathed Abisina for her callous treatment of non-human creatures, and other times I felt her fear (i.e when rogue centaurs are on the hunt). I think that may be why I liked the book so much. I was able to connect with the characters because they were flawed. I'm looking forward to the sequel, and can't wait to read more from this author.

by Ellen Jensen Abbott
352 Pages
Published by Marshall Cavendish Inc
Rating: A-


Kristen said...

I can't wait to read this book, it's always interesting when you read a fantasy that is unusual. Thanks for sharing your review!

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