Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell

Heartbroken over the tragic death of her fiancĂ©, seventeen-year-old Zora Stewart leaves Baltimore for the frontier town of West Glory, Oklahoma, to help her young widowed aunt keep her homestead going. There she discovers that she possesses the astonishing ability to sense water under the parched earth. When her aunt hires her out as a “springsweet” to advise other settlers where to dig their wells, Zora feels the burden of holding the key to something so essential to survival in this unforgiving land. Even more, she finds herself longing for love the way the prairie thirsts for water.
Maybe, in the wildness of the territories, Zora can finally move beyond simply surviving and start living.

Saundra Mitchell is a master of setting. All of her books have had a vivid and palpable feel to them, and this book is no exception. I could taste the dust of the road, smell the grass on the prairie, feel the water between my toes, etc. Whenever I want to feel like I’m in another world, I pick up one of Saundra’s books.

Zora is a great character. Her grief is tangible and drives her to do selfish things because she can't see beyond it. That rang true to me. Desperation also drove her to find her inner strengths, which also rang true. And the guilt she felt from her attraction to Emerson was fantastic. I really liked Emerson, too. all his actions made sense according to his personality, and I had a good feel for who he is.

The shape of the story wasn't as effective as I was hoping. It was pretty even throughout, and I kept looking for more surprises. The foreshadowing of complications from the wells was natural and needed, but I was hoping for something on top of that—completely different, yet related. This story kind of seems a vessel to find the earth and water elements, and then the next book will have the actual conflict. Which is a bummer because I thought there were a few missed opportunities for conflict. For example, I wasn't sure of the point of the stage robbing, especially since we don’t see Ellis again and the conflict with Royal doesn’t really amount to anything. I am hoping it's not setup for the next book.

The ending, however, is superb. I loved how it ties the two books together while setting up for the third, which I will most definitely be reading.


Kelly Hashway said...

I don't think I've heard of this one before. Very nice review.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Nice review. The book sounds like one I would enjoy.

Jessie Harrell said...

I don't see the link for the contest ... that being said, I really enjoyed Saundra's last novel and am looking forward to this one too. Thanks for reminding me about it.

Unknown said...

The review is thoughtful and well-balanced, and left me really wanting to read the books -- I'd love to learn how to be a 'master of setting,' right?