Monday, December 31, 2012

VODNIK by Bryce Moore

It's set in Slovakia! There is little to no romance! There is an emphasis on family loyalty (but not TOO much family loyalty)! There are many mysteries that weave in and out of the story only to be RESOLVED at the end! It's a standalone!

Those are a few reasons of why Vodnik stood out as a special book, and of why I loved it.
Vodnik is about a boy, Tomas, and his parents who move to Slovakia after losing everything in a house fire. Tomas is scarred, not from the house fire but from a fire from when he was small. His mother was originally from Slovakia, but they moved for reasons that Tomas is unclear on, involving his long-gone grandmother, and his traumatic almost-burning-to-death. Tomas starts seeing people made out of water and fire and old women with scythes and it's all very strange, but he is more concerned with his family's many secrets and refusal to talk about anything, as well as Katka, a girl he meets and befriends immediately. Tomas discovers that his ability to see the fantastical inhabitants of Slovakia may help him deal with his "real-world Slovakia" problems.
There's a small cast of characters, Tomas and Katka being the most important. I loved how both of them are really smart and capable but still seem like TEENAGERS, because they ARE. They have quirks and immature moments. The various related family members were cool too. There was a gang of bullies who were incredibly one-dimensional: they may be my one complaint with this book.

DID I MENTION I LOVED THE SETTING? Not only Slovakia in general, but having a run-down castle (Katka's father owns it and runs tours) as base of operations for the characters was totally great. I liked that we didn't spend too much time on Tomas' reasonable aversion to moving to a completely different country, and that he grows to like it fairly quickly. Because even with its problems, it's obviously an interesting place to live.

The fantastical bits, eg all those water and fire people and the creature known as the vodnik (who becomes very important very quickly in the story), were crazy and scary and great. They were all three-dimensional characters, too, with different sides to them and complex histories of their own. That was refreshing.

And, like I mentioned, lots of mysteries in this book. There was a good balance between giving us hints and connections without spelling everything out for us. Many of the twists and explanations were unexpected, but not without foundation in preceding chapters.

I gave Vodnik five out five stars for being a well-crafted, fleshed out story with loveable characters (even the murderous ones).


Yammy said...

Old ladies with scythes? I'm down.

Jasmine Stairs said...

People made out of fire and water? I'm down!

This one sounds exciting and I hope I have enough time this term to read it. :D