First reviews - Waters and the Wild

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Oct 5, 2011
blah - flags. So many flags.
'What a completely enthralling new novel from Jo Zebedee! Throughout 'Waters and the Wild' there's a haunting sense of disparateness - between goodness and evil, darkness and light, truth and lies and, movingly, between what each character believes they know and what really is. From the very opening chapter, the reader falls headlong into a mother's nightmare; on holiday in the Glens of Antrim, little Amy suddenly and completely disappears. We're drawn into spiralling panic as Amy's family search frenziedly for the lost child. It's at this point (and, boy, does this fascinating novel stand re-reading!) that a schism slowly begins to uncurl - growing relentlessly throughout the novel and fracturing spectacularly in the closing chapters. This may sound slightly generalised, but I am trying VERY hard not to give any spoilers - you'll understand when you throw yourself into this amazing novel and follow each twist and turn as Amy and her family race towards the breath-taking conclusion.

This is no light-hearted fairy tale; a palpable sense of darkness permeates not only each character in the novel but also the lushly atmospheric surroundings of the Glens of Antrim. This is a place steeped in myth and legend which will prove to be either Amy's salvation or her destruction. It shelters and exposes; it protects and it injures. Nothing is guaranteed. Did the fairies take Amy all those years ago? Does she still possess fragile childhood memories of past times with them (and an ability to communicate with them, now, in the present) or is this little more than a troubling adolescent psychosis which will drive Amy remorselessly towards her destruction?

Jo does something extremely clever (and utterly compelling) in this novel - she moves seamlessly from one narrator to the next and drives the action relentlessly on; we explore each person's assessment of Amy's deteriorating condition (including Amy's own terrified thoughts of what she's experiencing) as each undertakes their own personal quest. But who is correct in their understanding of Amy's condition and who (perhaps even Amy herself?) is driving her towards destruction?

This is a lush, beautifully crafted tale of journeys - physical, personal, emotional and spiritual - set against a backdrop of the beautiful Glens of Antrim. These journeys (taken, quite literally, into the unknown) are driven by lost wishes, fervent hopes, horrifying darkness, growing doubt and heart-breaking moments of awareness that we cannot posses as adults what we once hoped and dreamed of as children. The magical creatures that people 'Waters and the Wild' are entrancing, beguiling and often seductively vicious. Yet no matter how terrified she may be of these faerie creatures, Amy feels compelled to return to them - just as her family, friends and helpful locals are driven to follow her in her ever more destructive quest to resolve her situation. And when, with superb sleight of hand, Jo finally unwraps the full story of Amy, her fractured family and these haunting creatures, the reader is filled with such a sense of sadness for what has been lost and what can no longer be. And YES - the delicate unravelling complexity of this novel demands that you sit right down and read the whole thing right through again!

Absolutely fabulous work - eerie, atmospheric and incredibly evocative with gorgeous descriptions of the countryside and its people; I can't recommend this highly enough - and I've managed to get to the end of this review without giving away key plot points!! Take this book to the Glens of Antrim and read it with the waves crashing on the shore; I can guarantee that your goose-bumps won't simply be caused by the cool water!'

Phew! First one in.....
Yay!!! And am I correct, Jo - it's July 23rd when I will be able to begin my quest to experience the above sentiments?

Huge congrats!! Truly looking forward to this, CC
Sounds great springs. Looking forward to ordering and reading!

Not sure what advance readers do but happy to help out if I can be of use!
I tried to join there, but while I have an account it's not been approved, and I got no reply when I emailed for help. I'd presumed it was actually a dead forum now!
Water and Wilds, I hope there is going to be more books.

Are the fairies real or is she delusional? brought forth from a child's fertile mind and a mother's obsession?

Why I have never met a Simon?
Thanks, Nixie! I think this is a standalone - and I'm not sure I have a definitive answer, even now :)
"Waters and the Wild" is a gripping tale that brings you into the world of a young lady whose mind is trapped between two realities. A haunting piece of atmospheric fiction, the suspense carries throughout the story.

I do think Simon seems a little too good to be true. His purpose appears to be a heroic rescuer, but he lacks the background or character development seen in the rest of the family. The dynamics of Amy's dysfunctional family play into the story seamlessly, providing fascinating insight as to how they found themselves in their current situation.
Thank you, Kythe! I’m so glad the atmosphere worked well.

Simon - I think I dropped the ball there. Originally I did include more about his life in Belfast and that shone light as to his actions (he failed to act when his father had a stroke, leaving extensive damage - that action leads him afraid to fail to act again, and I suppose drove a redemptive arc.) I cut that section as the structure changed and I could no longer send Simon back to Belfast.

When Harebrain (who was an early beta) read the finished version he asked me where Simon’s backstory had gone and why! In retrospect I think it added and should have stayed :) I can now think of several ways I could have kept it and another writing lesson is learned :)

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