Sevenyears 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 debut novel and first in a series by Australian author Elizabeth Foster.
Esme’s mother had disappeared sevenyears ago, thought to have been lost at sea. Her father is now remarrying but Esme doesn’t believe the ‘lost at sea’ claim and while her father is away on his honeymoon she plans to do some investigating of her own. While searching for clues about her mother’s disappearance Esme finds a doctor’s note about her mother’s headaches, delusions and talk of other worlds. Was her mother ill and nobody told her?
After following an eagle down to the beach Esme notices a lustrous shell in a rock pool but as she reaches for the shell she is pulled into the pool and plummeted down into its depths. When she surfaces she is in another world. She is befriended by Daniel and this is where Esme’s real journey begins. As Esme tries to uncover what happened to her mother more mysteries are revealed that will have a lasting effect on Esperance and its people.
Foster’s writing is beautifully descriptive and flows effortlessly. Esme has a strong personality thriving in seclusion after being shunned by most of the town folk. She soon becomes firm friends with Daniel and Lillian and learns to trust and rely on others. I liked that the three teens could be friends without a love triangle in sight.
I loved the town of Esperance with its watery canals, gondolas and bridges which reminded me of Venice. The world of Aeolia is tied to the Gods and frequent mentions of Greek Gods through statues and paintings gives scope for additional research.
The magical element was enchanting; my favourite being Akitsu’s shop with its enchanted paper fish, birds, beetles and butterflies all so delightfully imagined and brought to life on paper.
The story wraps up well, however also leaves on opening for the sequel Esme’s Gift.
Recommended for readers 10+ years Content: battle with a spectre
Shattered by her mother's mysterious disappearance sevenyears prior, Esme is unable to move on. Her father's re-marriage is the last straw, especially when she finds out that her guardian during her father's honeymoon turns out to be the interfering older sister of her stepmother Penelope. Drawn by unanswered questions and a mysterious sea eagle Esme finds herself at Spindrift, the site of her mother's disappearance where she tumbles into a whole new world.
This novel has so many strengths it is hard to know where to start. I will resort to using headings.
The prose. Delightful. Here is but one example:
'She couldn't see the woman's face, but it didn't matter. There was a map of this person within her, one that she had folded and unfolded countless times. The fall of her hair, the slope of her shoulders, the shape of her was more than enough.'
The world building. The enchanted world of Aeolia is delightful, the city of Esperance reminiscent of Venice, with its canals, yet steeped in the lore of the sea. It is a city beneath the waves that is also above sea level, a land with its own magic which is waning, yet still indescribably unique.
'At the mention of 'Aron' the bag came to life. It quivered and puffed like a set of bellows, before stretching out to more than its original size. Esme watched the bag's contortions in awed silence. When it had stopped expanding, she fumbled with the drawstring and peered inside.'
The friendships In Aeolia, Esme meets Lilian, who longs to acquire the gift of singing songspells, and Daniel who wants to be a ranger and tame dragons. Initially at odds, Lilian and Daniel have past differences to overcome, while Esme in her turn must learn to trust and open up to her new friends.
The quest Like all good fantasy novels there is a quest. In Esme's case it is simple - to find her mother. But it soon becomes apparent that her mother's disappearance was far from simple. That it is, in some strange way, linked to the Aeolia's waning magic. Linked so strongly that Esme begins to doubt her mothers motives. What will her friends think if they find out the truth? Will she find the courage to face her fears?
Esme's Wish marks the beginning of a delightful new fantasy series for upper primary and lower secondary school readers. I thoroughly enjoyed my immersion in this world.