“Between the Water and the Woods” by Simone Snaith
Source: ARC from work
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction Fantasy
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?
Between the Water and the Woods is a sweet, gentle fantasy. It’s very reminiscent of the fantasy books I read growing up. It has a bit of a timeless feel. It’s a perfect stepping stone book for younger readers who are outgrowing Middle Grade books but aren’t quite ready for all that the Young Adult age range has to offer (or simply those who enjoy gentle, sweet reads).
The trope of magic vs technology/science plays out nicely over the course of the story. You clearly see it play out in the court but you see glimpses of it with our characters. The final resolution plays out well.
I really loved the fact that the kids stay with Dad for the course of the entire story. The dead or missing parent trope is popular for good reason: kids need a certain level of agency to move the course of the story along. It was a breath of fresh air to read about a father getting into trouble just as much as the kids.
Not your typical fantasy book but a delightful read for those looking for a slower paced, old school fantasy story.