The Springsweet Hardcover – Apr 17 2012
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Praise for The Springsweet :
A lovely historical romance. . . . The author conjures a convincing picture of life on the Oklahoma prairie, painting an absorbing portrait of the landscape and of the people there. . . . A high-quality, absorbing drama."- Kirkus Reviews
" The Springsweet will steal your heart. Zora is a wounded heroine who had me cheering as she rediscovers the strength she thought she'd lost. Blend in a smoldering, yet refreshingly subtle hero, and add a twist of magic and you have a perfect romance in the Old West with another of Saundra Mitchell's signature rich and nuanced historic settings!"-Aprilynne Pike, New York Times bestselling author of Wings and Spells
"I didn't think YA historicals could get better than The Vespertine . The Springsweet proved me wrong. This is a gorgeous, unputdownable book that will stay with you long after it's through. Saundra Mitchell just gets better and better."-Sarah MacLean, NYT and USA Today bestselling Author of Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord
"With Saundra Mitchell's trademark evocative and gorgeous language, The Springsweet takes us across the plains, where the people thirst for love just as the land thirsts for water. I never wanted this book to end!"-Carrie Ryan, New York Times best-selling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series
Praise for The Vespertine:
"[A] richly conceived historical romance. . . . Fans of Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty will find themselves enchanted by this atmospheric tale."- Bulletin
"Equal parts vivid period detail, gothic melodrama, and foreboding premonitions coming true . . . an absorbing tale."- Booklist
"Written in a passionate, inviting voice, The Vespertine is a rich, historical novel of otherworldly power, forbidden romance, and questionable motives."
-Aprilynne Pike, New York Times Bestselling Author of Wings and Spells
"Sheer pleasure from beginning to end."-TeenReads.com
"I savored every word of The Vespertine; I knew it was an amazing book from the first page and I was entranced until the very last."-Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series
Praise for The Elementals:
"In The Elementals the worlds of The Vespertine and The Springsweet collide with glass-brittle hopes and devastating consequences. The children of the supernatural must learn what their parents have long known, that even the most innocent magic demands a cost. A sumptuous read, as bittersweet as it is beautiful."-Aprilynne Pike, New York Times bestselling author of Wings and Spells
"Saundra Mitchell pulls off a thrilling conclusion to a mesmerizing series! She just gets better and better!"-Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series
"Mitchell convincingly portrays the glittering, raucous L.A. of the burgeoning movie industry and the oppressive unease of looming war."- Booklist
About the Author
Saundra Mitchell is a screenwriter and author. Her companion novels The Vespertine, The Springsweet, and The Elementals have been praised for their rich historical settings, evocative language, and heart-pounding romance. Her debut novel, Shadowed Summer, was a 2010 Edgar Award Nominee, a Junior Library Guild selection, and an ALAN Pick. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and her two children. Visit her website at www.saundramitchell.com.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Zora Stewart was an interesting character. She was so certain her life was over that she has no idea how young she truly is until she was given another chance at love and life. I wish I could say that her special ability made her more interesting, but she used her abilities a handful of times in the book, mostly towards the end, so it really was not as integral a part of the plot as I had assumed based on the book's description. Towards the end of the story, Zora and her aunt decide to advertise her ability and to charge a fee for it so that they can try and save enough money to buy some livestock and improve their own lives. These scenes were some of the most touching in the book for me. One family is given the gift of life when Zora finds a spring of sweet, clear water on their dying property; another wants to drain his neighbor's pond and use their water as his own; the last is given the bitter news that there is no water on his claim and that he has sunk all of his money into a barren wasteland. Even though Zora's talent was not the focal point of the book, it did dictate some of her decisions and made her a less-than-typical society miss of the time period.
As with most young adult books, the author of The Springsweet falls into the trap of creating a love triangle where there really isn't one to try and give the story more depth. Zora must choose between a handsome, young gentleman who follows her from Boston and a local settler who is reviled by Zora's aunt and others. Hmmm, let me think. Who will she choose? The tall, dark, handsome, charming and well educated Theo or the brash, confident, golden Emerson. Zora's choice is so obvious that it is fairly laughable that the author event presents the other as an option, but whatever, I guess it is normal to have two amazing men chasing after the heroine in books these days. That said, I did enjoy the sweet little romance between Zora and her Romeo. I wish that there could be another book to tell us more about their lives and how they get on as they are just barely getting started when the book ends rather abruptly. It will be interesting to see where the author goes with her series from here...
The Springsweet has some gothic overtones, but they are subtle and this is not what I would deem a gothic romance. Theo and Zora meet in a graveyard with none other than Edgar Allen Poe. The lovelorn, grieving young woman and supernatural aspects also would lead you to think this is a more traditional, gothic romance, but the setting itself does not lend to a traditional gothic romance. You do not have the strictures of society or the brooding villain to make this a true gothic romance, but it was an interesting little romance with gothic touches. It was not at all what I was expecting when I picked it up, but I enjoyed reading it and will definitely check out other books by this author. I loved her writing style and think that she could make just about any topic appear interesting and important.
Zora is a brilliant character. She is selfish and everything about her character felt right. I really felt like I knew her, and her actions/reactions weren't shocking, but stayed true to her character. She isn't the only brilliant character either, I really enjoyed Emerson and some of the other secondary characters as well.
Though The Springsweet is rather predictable, I found myself engrossed enough in the story to want to continue on. This book very much felt like filler- I am crossing my fingers for more action and conflict in the next installment.
I definitely recommend this book to those that read the first one, The Vespertine. It is very similar.
First let me talk about what I liked about this book. I liked that Mitchell seems to have done her research about what life in the wilds of Oklahoma would be like during this time period, complete with sod houses and all. It's a touch of realism that serves the story well. I have to say that my favorite character in all of this had to have been Birdy. She's a tough, no-nonsense woman and at times I couldn't help but wish that the story had been centered around her more than Zora. Zora isn't an unlikable character, but she just seemed a little underdeveloped at times.
Now for what I felt was a bit lacking. I can't help but feel that the story and characters should have been a little more fleshed out. Everything happens so quickly that I didn't think that many of the romantic developments felt like they unfolded as naturally as they should have and I think that if there'd been more fleshing out of the characters, the story's fast pace wouldn't have been as bad otherwise. I liked Zora for the most part, but I just couldn't entirely buy her chemistry with a certain male character. There was definitely enough there to make it interesting, but not enough to give the whiz-bang feeling that I crave from romance in my stories. I would be more ambivalent about this, but since this is the second book in the series I couldn't help but want more from a second entry.
Overall though, this is still a nice book and fans of the first entry will be sure to enjoy it. If you haven't read the first book then you absolutely should, but it's not a necessity since most of Springsweet can be understood without it.
3.4 out of 5 stars
Why? I liked Amelia from "The Vespertine" a lot, but I love Zora. The book opens with Zora grief stricken and 'a little bit crazy' after the closing events in the first novel. Readers of "The Vespertine" might remember that Zora was a fun, flirty, and frivolous girl in that book. By the end of "The Springsweet", she has grown into a woman that works hard and cares even more about people. With Amelia, I always liked her but I didn't always understand her. Its different with Zora. Another reason I loved "The Springsweet" more is the setting. I love stories of the west and fighting for, claiming and working the homesteads. I loved reading about Zora, her young Aunt Birdie and Birdie's young daughter. Three women having to fight for everything they have? Yes, please. Also, Ms. Mitchell's 'voice' is even stronger here. The writing was beautiful in "The Vespertine"...I was sucked into that tale right away. Here the writing is still gorgeous, but its more mature. The story is even tighter and clearer than in the first novel.
I don't think that "The Springsweet" is nearly as dramatic as the first book either. There were some twists but they seemed more mild here. That is a good thing because it fit with the overall mood of the story. I loved Thomas from the first book, but I also loved Emerson here. Emerson wasn't quite the 'dandy' that Thomas was and I think that he brings out the strong woman in Zora and I liked that a lot. I enjoyed watching the two of them meet and get to know each other. I loved Zora's crazy scheme at the beginning of the book to get away from her obligations to get out of mourning and find someone to marry. When Zora's 'gift' shows itself, its almost like an afterthought. The story would have been just as wonderful without the element. Still it does add to the story and puts some of the last bits of the story into play.
As with most of my favorite books, I find myself having a hard time writing this review. I don't want to give a single thing away. I found the book to be such a treat (The Vespertine as well) and I can only encourage you to pick up this series. Both books are so different than any I have read before. I am truly excited by these gems and I eagerly await the next book by Ms. Mitchell.
After losing her fiance to a grisly death, Zora finds herself unwillingly to go on with her life. She doesn't want to get over him, so she publicly ruins herself, causing her mother to send her to a widowed aunt out west. There, she finds a new calling. Zora is what is known as a springsweet, water witch, dowser; several other names would describe her skill. She can find water easily, and it proves to be both a gift and a burden. She also finds someone that makes her heart beat again, and he has a special skill all his own.
I really liked Zora's character. She had some melancholy about her, but she still was pretty rational in thought and knew what she wanted. She was also pretty humble, which is refreshing compared to a lot of young adult novel heroines. Her love interest wasn't too bad either, although I would have liked to see more of him in the book and had more questions answered about him. He manages to dodge questions about himself quite well. I think the real standout character though was Theo, a wanna be courter for Zora. He just seems like a real good guy and I hope he continues to be in the series as it continues.
This novel was extremely well written with a nice tone. I liked the language and voice used by the author for Zora and it seemed fitting to the time. You can tell she did a little research. Since its young adult there isn't anything too objectionable. Pretty mild overall actually, although it does describe a little bit of violence from Zora's past. My one complaint would be that the ending was way too rushed. I got a little confused as a result and combined with the ending it was kind of unsatisfying.
I'll definitely continue on with this series. I find it intriguing and a nice quick read.
Review by M. Reynard 2012
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