Esme’s Wish – Elizabeth Foster – Esme Series #1 – Odyssey Books – Published 30 October 2017
When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?
But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.
After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.
Esme’s Wish is a delightful fantasy that captures the beauty of a watery, magical world, the trust of true friendship, and the strength of one girl’s loyalty to her mother.
Esme longs to discover what happened to her mother, who disappeared several years ago. Everyone else, including her father, have moved on, but for Esme, the unanswered questions plague her. Until, in her search, she finds herself magically transported to the world of Aeolia. There she discovers that her mother had an extra life full of art, magic, and danger. With her two new friends, Esme begins to uncover the mystery of what really happened to her mother.
I had Esme’s Wish sitting on my bedside bookshelf (thanks very much to the author for a copy) for a month before finally getting around to reading it. Why, oh why did I delay? Because Esme’s Wish is delightful right from the very first page. And I loved that first page. Hilarious and heartbreaking all at the same time.
Esme is a strong and independent main character. She is determined to find answers to her mother’s disappearance, stands up to the people she dislikes, physically defends herself, and jumps straight into the action. But she is neither unkind or infallible. As she makes friends with Lillian and Daniel, as she discovers more about the wonders of Aeolia, and as she continues her search for her mother, Esme grows in confidence and strength.
Esme’s Wish is the perfect middle-grade to young-adult crossover novel. It has a child-like quality and Esme comes across as younger than her fifteen year, but the book is written in a way that will capture the attention of older readers. Aside from a little mild fantasy violence, there is nothing to stop younger readers picking it up. Esme’s Wish is very well written and crafted with obvious care. Who wouldn’t enjoy a book that employs words like avaricious, phantasmic, and nebulous (and that was just from one page).
The world Elizabeth Foster has created is unique and yet similar enough to our own world for both Esme and the reader to fall into it quite easily. But there are benefits to the magical world of Aeolia, including dragons, the ability to breathe underwater, and magical Gifts. I loved how some of the magic crossed over with science, for example one man’s Gift is echolocation, while another’s is the ability to move and shape water. The history and culture of the world also had a number of similarities to our own, rooted in Greek history and mythology, which is explained when Esme learns the history of Aeolia.
Overall, Esme’s Wish is a delightful fantasy, one I will greatly enjoy sharing with our library’s readers. It is the first book in the series, and while it has a very satisfactory ending (I love how everything was neatly and cleverly tied up), I can’t wait to read the sequel, Esme’s Gift, which promises more adventure, friendship, and magic.
The author provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Magic, dragons, water, magical powers, friendship, family, mothers.
Reading age guide: Ages 10 and up.
Advisory: Mild fantasy violence.
Published: 30 October 2017 by Odyssey Books.
Format: Paperback, ebook. 252 pages.