by Rebecca Nolen
Publisher: SkipJack Publishing
Published: Nov. 12, 2013
| Age Level: 8 - 14 | Grade Level: 4 - 10
Award Winning Historical Fantasy!
Looking for a good story?
West Virginia, 1895
A deadly dry spell has left the earth parched and souls desperate. Crops are failing. Cities are starving. A missing newspaper man doesn't account for much in times so terrible, except to the twelve-year-old son he left behind. When Elliot Sweeney discovers the search for his father has been called off, he boards a train alone to find him.
His quest leads Elliot into the depths of an abandoned mine, with a peculiar pocket watch, a blind burro, and a gutsy girl at his side. He finds a world he never dreamed of, even in his worst nightmares, and lands smack in the middle of a war between two kingdoms. Monstrous insects, smiling villains, and dark riddles are everywhere.
˃˃˃ Greed! Drought! Child-slavery!
Elliot must decide who to trust, the horrible Prince LeVane who is turning the entire world to dust, has enslaved hundreds of children, and is working his father to death? (If Elliot doesn't go to the water lands to retrieve the mysterious knife that LeVane demands, his father will die.) Or should Elliot trust the fascinating water nymph, Queen Tosia, who says she will help him rescue his father? But then he overhears her making plans to kill him.
˃˃˃ A page turner!
Will loyalty, family, and love prevail over greed and exploitation? Deciding who to trust may prove to be Elliot's greatest challenge, while the fate of the world above hangs on his choice.
The Dry is a historical fantasy or fairytale set in the late 1890’s of Virginia when children were used to work in the coal mines. A desperate drought has taken place in the area and Elliot has been left with his Uncle Nat while his newspaperman father searches out the story of missing children. He doesn't return when he's supposed to and so three months past his expected return date, Elliot, feeling his uncle's disgruntlement at his continued presence, sets out to find his father.
Elliot travels to a coal mine where the children are forced to work and ends up in a strange world called Penumbra. Penumbra is filled with creatures of all sorts that can talk and do all kinds of amazing things.
There are interesting facts about wasps at the beginning of each chapter that have nothing to do with the book, although there are wasps in the story. The author makes a note at the beginning of the book that the facts are there simply so that readers can learn 42 fascinating facts about wasps that they didn't know before (all without knowing they were learning something). I think that's a wonderful idea!
The Dry is rich with fun language: palindromes as well as uniquely and brilliantly descriptive word choices - "noodley grass tufted across the far bank", " trees stretched across like a crowd of old men warming their skinny limbs".
The Dry is a book that makes the reader think along with Elliot, for the words can have a double meanings. That's part of the twisting and turning in the plot of the story. There's plenty of that and it all happens fairly quickly too.
If you enjoy fantasy and fairytales, I suggest you give The Dry a read. I think you'll enjoy it. I rated it 4 stars out of 5.
Thank you to the author for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.
NOTE: The Dry won first place in the Young Adult category with the Texas Association of Authors. She will be receiving the award on the steps of the state capitol on April 11th.
About the Author:
I write, illustrate, and care for loved ones at home. I taught children, kept various pets alive, and collected bugs for twenty-two years in the wilds of Sugar Land, TX. I moved to the big city to seek hipdom. Failing that, I practice the fine art of balance at the YMCA and on odd days, I walk the dog.
Presently, I am holed-up in a drafty room at the top of an old house tapping at the computer, and eating donuts.