Friday, April 13, 2012

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Title:  The Springsweet
Author:  Saundra Mitchell
Series:  2nd book in The Vespertine series
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
Publication Date:  April 17, 2012
Source:  ARC

Heartbroken over the tragic death of her fiancé, 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.

I hate staring at a blank piece of paper when I’m trying to write a review. Conversely, I love that I was so engrossed in the novel that I neglected to take a single note. Luckily, I’m caught up on reviews and not having to write this three weeks after I read it, so this should be relatively painless.

I loved Saundra Mitchell’s The Vespertine when I read it last year. I hadn’t read much in the way of historical fiction up to that point, but I was blown away with how easily the story pulled me in, and it turned me into a massive fan of the genre. The companion novel to The Vespertine was no different. You don’t have to have read the first novel in this series, but it will help explain some things that the author touched on in The Springsweet.

I didn’t fully appreciate Zora’s character in the first novel. She seemed pushy and flighty, and when things turned out badly for her, she withdrew into herself. That’s the Zora you first meet in The Springsweet. It’s been a year since her beloved Thomas was taken from her, and she’s still depressed and at a loss for what to do with herself. Her mother doesn’t know what to do with her sullen, yet impetuous daughter either. When things take a turn for the worse, Zora is shipped off to Oklahoma to help her young, recently-widowed aunt sustain her homestead.

Zora doesn’t believe she deserves happiness without Thomas. She doesn’t believe she will, nor should she ever, find love again. And so she is content with the manual labor necessary to maintain her aunt’s farmland, and for the most part, it keeps her from dwelling on the past much. But along the way, she unearths some things about herself. She is a springsweet, a water witch, a dowser. Zora can put this previously latent power to good use for other homesteaders and help support her aunt and cousin in the process. But as she learned from her cousin Amelia’s situation in the first book, powers of this nature can be taken for granted…and used against you.

Zora also discovers that she is still alive. That her heart can belong to another, even after the tragedy she has survived. She only has to let herself want it. But there are two boys vying for her heart, and though her aunt pushes her toward the better match, Zora is pulled much more strongly to the boy deemed the wrong choice in the eyes of her aunt.

The characters in The Springsweet are so well-written, so believable that I could envision them perfectly and could almost hear them speaking in a Southern drawl or in a genteel manner, depending on the speaker. Zora narrates the book, and she is from a respectable background, but she has a mouth on her, a tenacity that I found endearing. Her new locale only aids in the loss of her more refined manner. West Glory isn’t quite what she expected, but through the beautiful prose, I could picture it quite clearly. And it made me yearn to go back and read the Little House series.

This isn’t a throw-you-for-a-loop kind of book, and I did find some situations a little predictable, but it wasn’t irritatingly so. As I was reading, it felt as if the book kept growing shorter. I wasn’t ready for it to end! And now that it has, I want the next book, especially after that ending. I expected it, but even so, I’m glad to have my suspicions confirmed and can’t wait to see how it plays out.  From gorgeous gowns and balls to open prairie and yummy cowboys, this series just keeps getting better!

Rating:  Photobucket

Book-A-Likes:  The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray


  1. Nice review. I am going to have to look for this author, it sounds like a series I would like.

  2. I used to devoutly historical fiction. Loved it. I've heard Saundra Mitchell's books are great and I've heard this book is great. If I ever decide that I want to delve back into the hist fic realm, I'll try this series. I'm happy you enjoyed it. Great review!

    1. I used to read the classics and loved them, so I don't know why I held off reading historical fiction. But I'm a big fan now. Same deal with contemporaries. Once I finally gave them a shot, I adored them! Glad to know you're a hist fic fan, too. :D

  3. WOW!! this book sound good ... although I didn't like the cover much, anyway happy you enjoyed it :-)

    1. Aw, I love the cover of this one...and it actually fits the book. :) But I am getting tired of the pretty dress covers, so I can see why you might not like this one.


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