Between the Water and the Woods
Illustrator: Sara Kipin
Emeline’s quiet village has three important rules:
Don’t look at the shadows.
Don’t cross the river.
And don’t enter the forest.
An illustrated fantasy filled with beauty and power, BETWEEN THE WATER AND THE WOODS sweeps you into a world where forests are hungry; knights fight with whips; the king is dying; and a peasant girl’s magic will decide the future of the realm…
When Emeline’s little brother breaks all three of their village’s rules, she is forced to use her family’s forbidden magic to rescue him from the dark things he awakens, the Ithin. Now that the Ithin are afoot in the land, she must, by law, travel to the royal court and warn the king. But the only way she and her family can make the journey to the capital is with the protection of a sour magister and a handsome, whip-wielding Lash Knight. Will Emeline survive in a city where conspiracies swirl like smoke and her magic is all but outlawed?
Seven full-page black-and-white illustrations included.
Publisher: Holiday House
Published: March 19th 2019
Death, Murder, Mentions of Grief, Sexism
Okay, first off: I went into this expected something completely different. I was expecting a graphic novel. However, I still really enjoyed this. It’s short and a light story to knock out if you want some fantasy that doesn’t require too much thinking.
This story starts off hitting the ground running. We see Emeline and her brother encounter this monster on the other side of the moat and a few pages later they’re on their journey to ask to king to grant their small village protection while she discovers her hidden powers.
And yes, there are illustrations, but the writing and the imagery was really vivid and rich… at least until the ending. Yet even then, things were info-dumped, especially after the initial start, but again, it didn’t bother me… until the end.
And speaking on the illustrations, Sara Kipin’s art is amazing— I’m a huge fan of her work, so the little snippets here and there gave life to the magic and the story itself.
The big theme on family and how close Emeline was with her was heartwarming. They stuck with her throughout it all and they were so supportive and a strong unit, you know? It was definitely the best part of the book.
But Emeline as our main character is pretty high on the list of things I liked about this story. She wasn’t a sword weilding— or in this case, whip weilding lady, but she was true to herself even when she was constantly judged by everyone around her and she stayed true to her morals and ideals. She was likable and easy to follow.
The last 20% was probably the part I had the most issues with. Like I mentioned above, the writing was solid and I was really liking it… but this felt so rushed and muddled and confusing. The big battle was disorienting, the big bad’s exposition on why he did it was infodumped on me.
The romance, which I can’t lie was slowly developed but not evolved anough to feel… genuine? It came rushed into completion and I love yous were thrown at a moments notice. If I’m being cynical and nitpickey, yes… I’d say I’m not really believing it, however, while reading I didn’t mind it that much. It was something cute and simple and wasn’t the main point. If I’m honest, it wasn’t really a focal point until the last 20%, but I was enjoying it on a surface level, you know?
But, I really enjoyed this one and I can see myself buying a finished copy when it releases— if not for the finished illustrations alone.