“All I’ve ever wished for is my mother to come back to me.”
Title: Esme’s Wish
Series: Esme Series, Book 1
Author: Elizabeth Foster
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication: 30 October 2017, Odyssey Books
Read: February 2018
“A fresh new fantasy of an enchanting world.” – Wendy Orr, author of Nim’s Island and Dragonfly Song.
When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?
But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.
After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.
This fresh, inventive tale is an ideal read for younger teens.
Hello, everyone! I am here today with a review for Esme’s Wish as part of the #EsmePH blog tour hosted by Shealea @ That Bookshelf Bitch. Thank you very much, Shealea and Elizabeth for letting me be a part of this tour! This is the last day of the tour but you can check the schedule below and visit the other participants’ reviews!! Also, be sure to read until the very end for a giveaway and join us in a Twitter chat tomorrow (more details below)!!
– My Thoughts –
Esme’s mother, Ariane, has been missing for several years. ‘Lost at sea,’ her tombstone indicates, but Esme believes otherwise. The book opened with Esme objecting to her father Aaron’s wedding with her stepmother Penelope, a bold move that just shows how much Esme believes that her mother is still out there, somewhere. But this gesture earned looks of disappointment from the guests. The people of Picton didn’t like her mother and Esme, they stayed away from them and told their children to do the same. Poor Esme didn’t have many friends growing up. It also seems that only Esme is concerned with finding out what really happened to her mother, everybody else has moved on and are just glad of the riddance.
Everything changed when a giant eagle swooped in from the sky, grabbed Esme with its talons and flew her to the magical city of Esperance, capital of Aeolia. Okay, just kidding about the flying part, but an Eagle did lead her there. How? You’d have to read the book to know. It involves an island, a notebook, a rock pool, a shell, and lots of chasing around.
Ariane was an artist and constantly travels for her artistic inspirations and art exhibitions. Her paintings usually depict aquatic sceneries and creatures – oceans, beaches, rivers, dolphins, and water gods such as Poseidon. She always brings Esme souvenirs from her travels and tells her stories including a beautiful place with boats that move on their own, musical magic and dragons. People’s judgment towards her mother is rooted in her not being a Picton-born and her ‘talk of other worlds’ that they just brush off as delusions. They were almost certain there’s something off about Ariane’s head. But they can’t be more wrong. Esme found Esperance.
The thing I really loved about this book is how Elizabeth used her words to build Esperance right in front of my mind’s eye. From the vast ocean to Esperance’s main water canals and waterways, the boats that roam through them, the grids of buildings that line the city, libraries with waterfalls inside (!!), to the dragons flying around the blue sky. The city is full of magic – boats move on their own as instructed, bags with passwords (one of my favorites!!), actual message bottles, magic portals, people who can manipulate water and other different kinds of Gifts. The water’s enchanted as well, and people can walk on and breather under (!!!) water. And yes, there are dragons.
I also love this particular passage about sirens:
Esme and the others trod water, ringed by a circle of pale androgynous beings, with icy green eyes and hair as rough and choppy as the surface of the sea. Their sculpted cheekbones fell away like the curve of a perfect wave; their translucent skin was honed to a marbled beauty, their faces as mutable as the ocean itself. As they moved their heads, the light fell on their faces in different ways, and their features shifted between masculine and feminine with a hypnotising fluidity.
It’s one thing to make a magical world alive for your readers and another to make them want to jump onto the next train (or rock pool, in this case) to visit your world. The way Esperance was described was so compelling that I wanted to jump into the book and experience its magic first-hand. (Also plunge into the waters because it’s really hot here in the Philippines.)
Origin and creation stories always fascinate me too, and the birth of Aeolia isn’t an exception. I mean, the whole world came from a single drop of water. Bits of Greek mythology are also weaved in the story, which excited me, a mythology fan, even more. This and all of Aeolia’s history is compiled in a compendium, which was Ariane’s last project as an illustrator before she went missing. I’d give anything to have a copy of Aeolian Myths and Legends: A Compendium in my hands!!
The lack of romance in the story, which is rare in YA novels (I think), also made it easier to focus on Esme’s quest to find her mother. I really admire Esme’s persistence in finding the truth about her mother. People back home may see her refusing to move on as a sign of stubbornness and rebellion but I feel there is a special connection between her and Ariane and she really feels deep inside that her mother is alive. This bond is also extended to her mother’s friends and colleagues that the mere mention of her mother’s name makes her trust them enough to stay the night at a stranger’s house without second thoughts. You’d think that being in a foreign world where everybody is a stranger will make her at least a little bit wary.
But it’s okay because at least she made friends in Lilian and Daniel and even help them solve their years-long quarrel. The two also proved to be great characters and friends to Esme, helping her retrace her mother’s steps and patiently explaining how things work in Esperance.
Although some parts of the story confused me, like Nathan Mare’s involvement in everything, and the whole story on how her Ariane got to where Esme found her, I still enjoyed most of the story and I hope my questions will be answered by the next book in the series (Esme’s Gift, coming later this 2018).
I’m excited about the next book because I want to know how Esme and Lilian, okay Daniel too, go on with their everyday lives with their new Gifts. I also need flashback stories on how Aaron and Ariane met!!
Overall, Esme’s Wish is a great read full of magic, friendship, and adventure!! Elizabeth Foster’s first novel is so promising and I’m excited about what she will bring us next! (Maybe a real-life compendium as a companion book, please?)
– Quotes –
‘I suppose it wasn’t such a big deal. But it felt like it at the time. I guess when lots of big things are happening around you … little things can blow out of proportion.’
‘I can’t get used to the news that she’s gone. It’s the same with my mother—she passed away a few years ago. I still think about going to visit her, and then remember she’s not here anymore. Such a long goodbye, that forgetting and remembering that seems to go on forever. Like a little death each time. I can’t imagine what it must be like for you.’
The more she found out, the more she wondered what else she didn’t know about her mother.
‘Hey, you know how you can tell when people aren’t really listening? They nod in all the wrong spots.’
‘It is a rare and enviable ability to be able to ride the waves of history, to visit the far shores of centuries past. Others can only reminisce, or read about such events.’
The future was still as fearful as ever, but at least now she wasn’t facing it by herself.
‘Fame’s overrated,’ she said to the others. ‘Friendship’s not.’
– About the Author –
Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Once she started writing, she never looked back. She’s at her happiest when immersed in stories, plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee.
– Blog Tour Schedule –
18 February (Sunday)
- Esme’s Wish blog tour launch @ That Bookshelf Bitch
- Review from Charvi @ Not Just Fiction
- Review from The Nerdy Elite
19 February (Monday)
20 February (Tuesday)
21 February (Wednesday)
- Review and author interview from Belle @ Belle’s Archive
- Review and author interview from Brooke @ The Brookeworm
22 February (Thursday)
- Review from Susanne @ floralcars
- Review and author interview from Sam @ Samantha House
- Review from Taiwo @ Stuffed Shelves
23 February (Friday)
24 February (Saturday)
- #EsmePH Twitter chat (8:00 AM Philippines / 8:00 PM EST)
- Announcement of Twitter chat giveaway winner
– Giveaway –
And now, for the most awaited part – the giveaway! You can win a printed copy of Esme’s wish and other merchandise such as stickers, bookmarks, and bookplates! Don’t forget to drop by all the blog tour stops for more chances of winning! This giveaway runs until March 8, 2018
We are also having a Twitter chat tomorrow, come and let’s explore Esperance together!!