Apr 30, 2015

Review: The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee

TitleThe Water and the Wild
Author: K.E. Ormsbee
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publishing Date: April 14, 2015
Pages/Format: 448, ARC
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For as long as Lottie Fiske can remember, the only people who seem to care about her have been her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter-writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things and people are arriving on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot’s getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless.

And then a door opens in the apple tree.

Follow Lottie down through the apple roots to another world—a world of magic both treacherous and beautiful—in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.

Book in One Word: Fantasmical.

I first heard about The Water and the Wild when the cover popped up on my Twitter feed, and I immediately went "PRETTY COVER WHAT IS THIS BOOK I MUST HAVE IT." For months I pined for this book and then a copy fell into my hands, and I was able to read the book and fall down a magical apple tree and into a world full of fantasies. I hyped myself up a bit for this book, but it fortunately did not disappoint, and neither was that cover deceiving.

The Water and the Wild is about one Lottie Fiske, who has spunk and stubbornness a la Junie B. Jones, Ramona Quimby, and Hook's Revenge's Jocelyn Hook. (Though I don't know if they'd all be friends or totally clash.) Every year for her birthday, Lottie places a wish in the box in the apple tree, and it is eventually granted by a person known only as the letter-writer. Lottie lives in Thirsby Square with her wretched adoptive mother, and her only reprieve is her best friend Eliot Walsch. But Eliot is dying of an incurable disease, so Lottie asks the letter-writer (who's the only person to know about her parents or tell her anything about them, and who left her a note on the back of a picture of her parents that says "If you should ever need anything, write back") to save her best friend. For some time Lottie hears nothing about her request--until some oddish children show up in Thirsby Square and Lottie finds herself falling down an apple tree.

And so we--and Lottie--end up in New Albion, an alternate, magical version of New Kemble, where Lottie resided in the real world. New Albion is divided by the Northerly and Southerly courts and is filled with sprites, Barghests, gengas, will o' the wisps, magnificent oddities, and a not-so-nice king. Long story short, Lottie ends up on a mission of sorts as she tries to save her dear Eliot, who's nearing the end. But she's not alone. With her she has Adelaide Wilfer, a slightly snooty girl who has extremely good hearing; Adelaide's poetry spewing brother Oliver Wilfer, who has a little talent-esque thing of his own (aside from over half of what he says being poetry, and being awfully nice); and Fife Dulcet, a floating Northerly boy who reminds me an awful lot of Peter Pan (I mean that in a very good way) and has quite the interesting bit of magical talent-thing himself, and he's probably my favorite character in the entire book. (And who I seriously hardcore shipped with Lottie. The shipping in Middle Grade novels is strong.) On their journey, the quartet faces a great deal of things, and it's quite the adventure to be on. And by far, one of the standouts in The Water and the Wild is the fantastic characters, who I just adore.

The world in this debut novel is quite interesting, There are bits that remind me of Wonderland, which was an inspiration for the book. (I interviewed the author here, if you want more info.) One setting I kept picturing as Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and there was another that reminded a bit of Lemony Snicket's The Bad Beginning and perhaps a house or two in the Harry Potter series. Some elements seem familiar, yes, but it's all told in a way that keeps the story pretty original and lets it stand alone. And really, the world is quite simple, from the outside; I wouldn't call the fantasy very obvious or anything. But it's once the world is explored and sick creatures try to beckon you to them so they can steal your body, or vines capture you, or animals do un-animal-like things, that you start to see all the magic it has. It was one thing after another, but it wasn't jam-packed; it was an adventure full of all kinds of wondrous things.

Though The Water and the Wild is technically a Middle Grade novel, it's most certainly a book that can be enjoyed by all ages. (And really, who wouldn't want to sit and drool over that cover for hours?) It's reminiscent of so many fairy tales we grew up reading and watching, and is like one itself, and I think that adds to its appeal and enjoyment factor. And there isn't really even anything bad about it. (Except that it ended. I NEED THE SEQUEL RIGHT NOW.) The story was good and compelling and oh so magical. The writing was full of voice and excellent word choice and was therefore quite good. And the characters, they are wonderful. The Water and the Wild deals with loss and family and friendship and getting attacked by wolf-like creatures, but at its heart it's a lovely little tale about a venturesome girl and a group of magical children (and some birds living in pockets) who embark on an enchanted adventure to save one dying boy (and some other things, too). Really, it's quite wild.

Did I like it? Yes!
Did I love it? Pretty much.
Would I reread it? Why not?
Would I purchase it? I already bought it!
Who would I recommend it to? I'd say everyone. This is such a fun little fantasy that I think many people might enjoy. And if you like books with very compelling characters, good writing, and an interesting story, then you should probably check this book out.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, and that in no way sways my opinion of the book.


  1. Hmmm, this sounds like a pretty interesting book. I do not think that I would have considered reading this without your review, so thank-you!


  2. My daughter's favorite book of all time. She loved it so much that she asked me to purchase 24 copies so that her 4th grade teacher could teach the book to her classes for years to come.


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