Title: WATERSPELL Book 1: The Warlock
Author: Deborah J. Lightfoot
Publisher: Seven Rivers Publishing
Release date: November 14, 2011
Category: High YA/crossover, Epic Fantasy
The Warlock, the first book in the Waterspell series by Deborah Lightfoot, is a well crafted, traditional fantasy that grabbed my attention and kept it. It’s a truly unique book with magic that transcends worlds via a fascinating pool of water, and in which Lewis Carrol’s ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ has an unexplained relationship to the world inhabited by Carin, a teenage traveller and the Warlock, Lord Verek.
Carin is heading north. She doesn’t know why, just that a wise woman told her she should go because she didn’t belong in the south and now something drives her to keep walking. When she stumbles onto Verek’s lands, her journey comes to an end. At first, she thinks he is going to kill her for trespassing, but when he discovers that she can read the language in the ‘Puzzle Book,’ he asks her to sort the books in his huge and disorganised library.
Verek is emotionally scared, powerful and lacking in basic social skills, nevertheless we feel that there is a warm heart in there somewhere because he loved his dead wife and son. Carin doesn’t see it however and neither do we. We see grief, anguish and rudeness. He seems to wonder why Carin fears him, but he does little to reassure her that his intentions towards her are anything other than murderous, and when he does act in a more civil way, she misreads his intentions. I would have liked to have seen a bit more development in their relationship. At the end of the book, Carin was still as suspicious of him as she was at the beginning and despite spending many hours together, there was no warmth between them. They are as stubborn minded and emotionally volatile as each other.
To him, she is a puzzle, because some of his enchantments have no power over her and he realises that she comes from another world. He takes her to his magical pool and shows her a glimpse of it, enough to confuse and terrify her.
The rest of the story involves her talking to the housekeeper, whose cheerfulness provides some light to contrast with the darkness of her master, making a friend of a wood sprite, an escape attempt, and doing the Warlock’s bidding in his sorcery aimed at finding the secrets of the Puzzle book and Carin’s nature. The mystery, rather than unfolding with each revelation, deepens as the story develops. By the end of the book, the puzzle pieces have been revealed, but the puzzle is not solved. I didn’t find this frustrating in the least because the journey to get to that point was enough to keep me engaged and satisfied.
I enjoyed this book a great deal, especially the description of the pool, its magic and the mystery behind it. The worst part of the story is the ending. It wasn’t the kind of cliff-hanger that had me throw the book in the corner – that reaction I keep for books that open up a new thread and then leave you hanging. This simply ends after a tricky piece of sorcery but before we find out whether Carin is safe or not. It’s not a hopeful ending, but it works for the story and it left me resigned rather than annoyed that I would have to read more to find the answers, so I’m still going to give it 5 stars. I recommend it for those who love traditional fantasy.
I enjoyed the second in this series even more than the first. The end of it takes us somewhere completely different and I’m eagerly awaiting the next instalment. This is a series not to miss.
After blundering into the last stronghold of magic, Carin discovers that she is right to fear the wizard Verek. He is using her to seal the ruptures in the void, and she may be nothing more to him than an expendable weapon. What will he do with her—or to her—when his world is again secure? Or has he erred in believing that the last bridge has been broken? The quest may not, in fact, be over … and Lord Verek may find himself not quite as willing to dispose of his fiery water-sylph, Carin, as he once believed himself to be.
This review was written by Tahlia Newland.
Deborah J. Lightfoot
WATERSPELL Book 1: The Warlock
WATERSPELL Book 2: The Wysard
WATERSPELL Book 3: The Wisewoman