Before starting this book, the reader is shown a charming map of a mysterious place named Esperance, capital of Aeolia, a map that hints at what’s to come. The story opens in our world, on the wedding of Esme’s father and her new stepmother, Penelope. Esme isn’t happy and she is unable to disguise it. She’s missing her mother, Ariane, who was lost at sea presumed dead. Esme is a lonely child, little liked by the villagers of Picton Island where her father is lighthouse keeper. An outsider, she wants nothing more than to find out what happened to her mum.
When Penelope’s sister, the despicable Mavis, moves in to mind Esme while her father has his honeymoon, Esme experiences strange headaches and dizzy spells. She has a vision of her mum and dad and is puzzled by it. Her anguish over her mother intensifies and she decides to take off to Spindrift Island where Ariane disappeared many years before. As her quest unfolds, Esme is swept unexpectedly into another world, the world of Esperance, where she makes new friends and continues her search.
What unfolds is a series of adventures large and small, of dragons and other mythical creatures, and of special magical gifts. To say more would spoil the enchantment.
Foster has a fluid, engaging narrative style. The writing is simply exquisite. The pacing, plot twists and characterisation are just perfect. Depictions of the city of Esperance are conveyed in vivid and captivating detail. The various threads and elements of the story are woven together beautifully, culminating in an ending filled with wonder and surprises.
This is a story of loss and searching, of ancient Greek myths, of the artistic temperament and supposed insanity, of minds capable of accessing the inner realms the rational mind cannot reach. Absorbing, enchanting, whimsical, Esme’s Wish is a story to lose yourself in. I would recommend this book to readers one and all. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Seven years after the disappearance of Esme's mother, Esme's father is ready to move on. The same can't be said about his daughter, Esme doesn't want him to marry someone else, but her objections are being ignored. When her father and his new wife leave Esme at home while going on honeymoon together, Esme decides to investigate the mysterious vanishing. Her search leads her to Aeolia, an enchanted world she accesses by accident. There Esme finds the first clues about her mother's actions before she was never seen again. Will she be able to get some much needed answers?
Esme stays in Esperance, a beautiful canal city plagued by earthquakes. Esme isn't well liked at home because of her mother, but here her mother was popular and Esme soon finds two allies. Daniel and Lillian are kind to Esme and they help her with her mission. Esme never expected to find such good friends. While getting to know more about Aeolia's history Esme discovers her mother had an entire life there, she only knew part of the woman she so admired. What was her mother hiding and why did she disappear?
Esme's Wish is a gripping magical story. Esme is a fantastic main character. She's smart, gentle and caring. She's never given up on her mother and her loyalty knows no bounds. I was incredibly curious about each truth she unravels. Esme is having a great adventure and I enjoyed every single moment of it. She's a resilient and determined girl and she constantly conquers her fears, which is something I admired about her. She's a fantastic main character and it was a joy to read her story. I really liked reading about her friendship with Lillian and Daniel, they have such a heartwarming bond, which for me was one of the best parts of the book.
Elizabeth Foster's writing has a nice easy flow. She has fabulous world building skills and I was impressed by her vivid descriptions of Aeolia and the mesmerizing way she writes about magic. Esme's Wish is filled with surprising twists and turns and I loved searching for clues together with the brave Esme. Esme's Wish is a terrific beginning of a series and I can't wait to read more about Esme and her friends. Elizabeth Foster completely enchanted me with her wonderful story and I look forward to the next one.
Esme's Wish is the story of a teenage girl, Esme Silver, who has just witnessed her father getting remarried even though she does not believe her mother is dead. Following her feelings and some small could-be-clues, Esme makes her way to the last place she knows her mum, Ariane, was before her disappearance and discovers there is a whole other world waiting for her. Esme finds herself in Esperance, a city in a world called Aeolia, where many residents seem to know her mum. Over the course of the book, Esme finds out more about her mother and gradually realises she did not know as much about her mum or herself as she originally thought she did.
Esme is a is a strong character in that she does not give up just because something appears difficult. She is determined, resilient and independent but she also allows the people around her to help her when she needs support, something I think is great for the main character to do. The two friends Esme makes soon after arriving in Esperance and continues her journey with are Daniel and Lillian. These two educate Esme on life in Aeolia, it's history and the magic that has not been working right for many years. They both have stories of their own and both of them are interesting additions to the story.
The world in which the story takes, Aeolia, is somewhat simplistic but beautifully described. Not sure if it is what Foster had in mind, but I pictured Esperance as an ancient European style city with lots of light architecture standing out amongst the deep blue skies and waters. The only issue I had within the world were some of the creatures in it, specifically the dragons. When there is mention of dragons in a book I want a great dragon story or at least a cool dragon side-story, but they were mostly described as a transport with only a few hints at them being something more. I hope that the plot of book two will allow for more of the dragon story I was hoping for.
Speaking of the plot, it was, in my opinion, brilliant for a novel aimed at younger readers. Being 241 pages, I did not expect a whole lot to happen in the first book of the series, but Foster managed to pack it will quite a lot of story. There was a decent dash of fantasy elements, such as magical talent and mythical creatures, mixed up with the large mystery that surrounds Esme and her mother and those two elements mixed well together. There were no dull stretches as most of the major plot points overlapped with each other, but it was all rather realistically paced with the events making sense and occurring naturally.
I personally enjoyed the way this book was written - detailed but not overdone. Every element, whether it be the character, the world or the events taking place, were all written in a way that made them easy to picture without feeling like I was being smothered with descriptions. The writing felt natural and made the story feel more real. Despite Esme's Wish being targeted at younger readers, I, as a young woman in my twenties, thoroughly enjoyed the magic this story had to offer.
I thought this was a wonderful novel and I have only a minor complaint that I do not believe is worth deducting a star for. I cannot wait to see where Elizabeth Foster takes this series!
I really enjoyed reading this book. Esme was such a likable character and I got caught up in her search to uncover the truth about her mother's disappearance. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep me interested and the vivid fantasy world Esme unwittingly travels to was so well imagined I find it hard to believe Esprance is not a real place. I am looking forward to when the next book in the series is released so I can find out what adventure Esme and her new friends go on next.
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.