Author: Saundra Mitchell
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Publication Date: April 17, 2012
Series: Companion to The Vespertine
Source: ARC from author
About the Book: It’s a long way from Baltimore to Oklahoma Territory. But Zora Stewart will go any distance to put the tragic events of her sixteenth summer behind her. So this city girl heads to the tiny frontier town of West Glory to help her young widowed aunt keep her homestead going.
When another Baltimorean shows up in West Glory, Zora couldn’t be more surprised. Theo de la Croix made the long trip out west hoping to court Zora, whom he has long admired from afar.
But Zora has developed an attraction to a rather less respectable fellow: Emerson Birch, a rough-mannered young "sooner" whose fertile land is coveted.
As Zora begins to suspect that there may be more than luck behind Emerson’s good land, she discovers an extraordinary, astonishing power of her own: the ability to sense water under the parched earth. When her aunt hires her out as a "springsweet" to advise other settlers where to dig their wells, Zora feels the burden of holding the key to something so essential to survival in this unforgiving land.
Even more, she finds herself longing for love the way the prairie thirsts for water. Maybe, in the wildness of the territories, Zora can finally move beyond simply surviving and start living.My Thoughts: I have a new rule. It's called the "Read Everything Saundra Mitchell Publishes" rule. This has been my unofficial rule since reading her first book Shadowed Summer. It was strengthened by The Vespertine but I felt three books were needed to make it official. Consider it official.
Saundra has such a way with words. I know I've said it before but I don't think I can stress it enough! I mean, I flagged two separate sentences on the first page alone! Her writing style and word choice are superb. They work so well together. It turns an intriguing read in to a beautiful work of art. I'm gushing and it sounds like hyperbole but it is so, so true! Saundra has a wonderful turn of phrase... at times delightful, at times lovely, at times haunting. I can relate to Zora (the main character) when she says, "The word spilled on my skin, clean and clear. I rolled it in my thoughts, longed to roll it on my tongue." I think a much less eloquent version of this thought whenever I'm reading something by Saundra. (Usually it's more like, "The words! So pretty! So.... PRETTY!!!!")
When the story begins Zora, devastated by the events of The Vespertine, has been forced to grow up quickly. She is broken and lost in the world that was once so familiar to her. My heart just broke for her... to have given up on happiness so young! In an effort to get out of societies obligations she "ruins" herself and is sent West to live with her aunt.I really enjoyed Saundra's descriptions of the west and the town Zora joins. I don't know that I would have made it as a frontierswoman! (Sidenote: There is a scene that was eerily reminiscent of a childhood phobia and put me off eggs for some time!)
And now the characters... oh, the characters. Zora i so very wounded. I was rooting for her as she moved on with her life and began to heal. I appreciated that she didn't just go on and pretend that everything was fine. She took the hard road (quite literally!) Theo and Emerson were both so interesting to learn about. I have to admit... I prefer Emerson! He is handsome, rugged yet sweet, and he plays the fiddle! I am such a sucker for a guy with musical ability! The other characters were authentic and added to the feeling of being immersed in Zora's world.
The Springsweet is truly a gem. I read it in one sitting the day I got it. Saundra Mitchell has crafted a beautiful story that draws you in and stays with you long after you've turned the last page. And what a last page it is! If you've read The Vespertine you will by aching for the final book Aetherborne! I highly recommend giving this book a try! Read The Vespertine first to get the full effect!
Random Things I Loved:
*The opening line, "That I went a little mad, I could not deny."
*"...a city growing in desperate gasps."
*The Poe mention!
*"I longed to throw rocks at them, to chase them away -- to dare them to grieve just once over somethign real and then decide if it was romantic."
*"I wondered if I'd stumbled on inquiries for a zoo."
*The use of the word "expectorating." I will now have Gaston's song from Beauty and the Beast stuck in my head for the foreseeable future!
*Zora's strength. She doesn't sit around waiting to be saved.
* I just love the word "springsweet."
*Nellie Bly gets a mention too!
*I liked the contrast in the ways that Zora builds relationships with Emerson and Theo.
* The words!!! All the words!