'She plunged beneath the surface, her eyes blind in the murky, green water: dived again and again until she couldn't take another breath. There was no trace. Freya was gone.' Jess has heard the rumours, old folk tales of creatures that live beneath the water: dangerous shapeshifters with a taste for human children. She's dismissed them as crazy stories -- until her best friend is stolen and Jess discovers all the legends are true...Trying to rescue her friend, she meets one of them -- a kelpie -- but he turns out to be nothing like she imagined. Caught between two worlds, between kelpies and humans, and between mysterious Finn and brave Magnus, Jess must chose between what she's always known - and what lies beneath. Gill Arbuthnott creates an enthralling world of love and revenge, divided loyalties and imminent danger in this brilliant fantasy novel for young teens set in 16th century Scotland.
3 Out Of 5 Stars
Genre: Another-World, Supernatural--
Jess lives a quiet life out on the farm with her parents, brother and grandmother. Young children have been going missing over the years with no trace, thought to be dead, and Jess gets the feeling that she is being watched. When Jess and her friend Freya are out by the pond picking berries, they find a beautiful horse stuck on some bushes. Next thing Jess knows is that Freya is taken by the horse into the pond, believed to be dead by the town. Jess knows something is going on that she can’t explain, but with the help of her grandmother, she sets out to find out what happened to Freya.
I will admit that the direction the book takes is not in the slightest the direction that I was expecting it to go. The strange thing is that the synopsis is pretty accurate as to what occurs in the story, as a general idea, but I think it gave me a very different impression of the book when I was reading it. I was expecting an angsty teen romance, and yes it is kind of a bittersweet romance/love triangle, but it felt more like it was for a younger audience, maybe pre-teen instead. When I was reading the book, I had no idea this was set in 1500s Scotland, it felt more like a fairytale/fantasy land than any historic setting that I know. That is not a criticism to the author, it was just a surprise to me when I discovered that this was suppose to be a real historical place. I would say that this story felt like reading an old folk tale told to children as a lesson or a moral, less than a fiction novel for teens. I am sure a lot of people will really like this, but it was not very engaging for me.
Jess is described as a gangly, awkward 15 year old who has no interest in boys and goes about her life, perfectly content. She seemed very young to me, more like a child than an almost woman. Freya was more of a woman than Jess, who was the one with the two men vying over her. I had a hard time connecting to the characters and I think it was predominantly because they have actions but not a lot of complex emotions. Relationships are formed without reasons, just like it is a given, but I wanted to know more. All of a sudden an emotion appears with no real reason as to how or why. To be honest, the hows and whys are my favorite part of a book. I think the book was suppose to be less about the characters and more about the mystery of the lake and the Selkies and wolf battle, but I like my books to have in-depth characterizations as well as a fast moving plot.
The story was very fast paced and an easy read so I found myself almost completing the book in one sitting without even realizing it. I would recommend this title to a young reader who likes mythology or fantasy books because I feel like that is a better fit for the book.
I received this title from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.