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In this YA fantasy, a teenage girl confronts prejudice, war, and family secrets
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In this YA fantasy, a teenage girl confronts prejudice, war, and family secrets
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Editorial Reviews

Krista Hutley
Long ago, Vran led his people to a new land, driving off the hated “monsters” (dwarves, centaurs, fauns) who had lived there for generations. Abisina has been outcast in Vranille for her “dwarf dirty” coloring since birth. Her mother’s status as the healer keeps her safe until Charach, an evil, charismatic leader, comes to cleanse Vranille of the unworthy. Abisina’s only hope is to find her father in distant Watersmeet, but to get there, she will have...
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761459927
  • Publisher: Amazon Childrens Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/28/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 341
  • Sales rank: 810,793
  • Age range: 12 - 16 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 4, 2009

    What a great read!

    What a great read! Abisina, Harat, and Reushlan are all fully realized characters. The supporting characters and even villains are complex. I loved that Abisina was both defiant and all too willing to believe what others had said about her. That her father both fails her and saves her rings true for all of us who have to grow up without our fathers. What I loved more than anything though was that her mother's love reached out and lifted her beyond what everyone else had said about her as an outcaste. Isn't that what we want from our mother's love, to sustain us when all else fails? This is a well written book with a fully realized world and a plot that moves at a briskly thoughtful pace. By that I mean, character and setting don't get lost in the journey, nor does their development slow down the pace of book. Indeed all elements of this book work together. There are dark and even a few gruesome moments, an excellently realized battle, and moments of great joy and peace. I was left wanting to know what would happen next in Vran and in Watersmeet. After I finished the book my own mind spun out several possible scenarios for the next book which for me is always proof of a thoroughly satisfying read. I look forward to the next installment.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by coollibrarianchick for TeensReadToo.com

    W-A-T-E-R-S-M-E-E-T. The word easily rolls off my tongue. The cover with the picture of the girl caught my attention first. She has the look of a scared, caged animal. I want to know what Watersmeet is. As I usually do with fantasy books, I dove into this book with gusto. Any book that can keep me interested from beginning to end and not drag is a good thing.....

    First time novelist Ellen Jensen Abbott has impressed me with her book, WATERSMEET.

    There are many forms of prejudice in Vranille. Every day it is a fight for survival for Abisina. Shunned constantly and roughly pushed aside by others, Abisina is an outcast just because of how she looks. The worst thing about being an outcast is the all-consuming loneliness she felt on an everyday basis. There's always a fight for food and no one, unless they were an outcast themselves, is allowed to talk to her.

    The only thing that kept her alive was her mother, who was the village healer. Things are about to go from bad to worse for Abisina. Someone other than her mother is about to come into power, meaning bad news for all outcasts.

    Forced to flee, she heads to Watersmeet for help in the form of her father, a man she has never known. Along the way, she sees fauns, has a run-in with centaurs, eats a poisonous mushroom to save herself, faces minataurs, and has the courage to continue on.

    Will Watersmeet be her salvation or her downfall?

    The teacher in me came out as I was reading this book - you can easily make comparisons between this fantasy world and the real world we live in. How many times have people in this world faced prejudice, violence, and oppression, all because they were different than the ideal that society has imposed? Remember the Holocaust and Hitler? I saw many similarities between Charach and Hitler. Both were very charismatic leaders and no one saw the evil side of them until it was too late. You can do a lot of interesting activities in the classroom with this book.

    Abisina changes a lot in the course of this story. There were many challenges she faced that brought upon these changes. First and foremost, and probably the most important, is that she had to look at the prejudices in herself. Once that was done, she became more forgiving, accepting, and tolerant. This, of course, is crucial if she wants to continue the legacy of Vigor.

    Does that mean we will see more of Abisina in the future? I certainly hope so.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    It seems that lately I've been reading books in which some (or

    It seems that lately I've been reading books in which some (or all) of the plot involves the subject of prejudice. Watersmeet was no exception. The lead character, Abisina, experiences it on a daily basis. Why, you may ask? It's because her dark hair and skin keep her from embodying the image of Vran (the man who spread his settlement into free territory and cast out the "monsters"). So, Abisina is treated as an outcast, her only refuge is her mother, the village healer. While her life certainly isn't desirable, it is bareable. Until one night she is forced to flee her village, leaving her mother behind.

    What I enjoyed most about this book (a 2009 debut) was the growth of the heroine. At the start of the book, Abisina hates "monsters", even though she has been treated as one throughout her life. A great example of this is shown by her relationship with Hoysta, a dwarf. Despite that fact that Hoysta nursed her back to health, Abisina still fears her. Over the course of the novel, however, Abisina is forced to confront the ideas she's been taught, and think of what loyalty and acceptance truely mean to her. Eventually she comes to the realization that not every non-human can be labelled "bad", just like every Vranian can't be called "good".

    Abbott's debut was an interesting read. There were times when I loathed Abisina for her callous treatment of non-human creatures, and other times I felt her fear (i.e when rogue centaurs are on the hunt). I think that may be why I liked the book so much. I was able to connect with the characters because they were flawed. I'm looking forward to the sequel, and can't wait to read more from this author.

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  • Posted October 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Very Well Done!

    This is one of those novels that I definitely think our young adult population should be reading as it addresses many important issues, such as discrimination, bullying, tolerance, and forgiveness. I certainly don’t expect to come across such phenomenal themes when I pick up a novel, but that’s exactly what I got in Abbott’s Watersmeet, and I really enjoyed it.

    Abisina has had a very hard life, and yet, for the most part, she is relatively normal. I would think that someone who goes through as much as she does, being outcast, jeered at, and occasionally beaten, would not only hate those who treat her so unfairly, but also hate the world. Abisina is a much stronger person than I am, because I don’t think I’d come out on top like she does, but even so, it’s a struggle for her, and I loved that Abbott made Abisina’s character so real. Yes, Abisina comes out on top, but she struggles with her feelings throughout the novel, and even though she was discriminated against by her own people, she easily becomes the discriminator when meeting others, such as dwarfs and centaurs. She’s not perfect, by any means, and though she did and said some things that I scoffed at, in retrospect, I’d probably do the exact same, as shameful as that may be. It is very easy for us to become what we hate, especially if we’ve experienced it our entire life (being bullied to becoming a bully, etc.). It’s just as easy for us to fear a certain thing or group if we’ve experienced unpleasantries because of it/them (such as a fear of all dogs because one bit us once upon a time), and I really loved the struggle that takes place throughout the novel as Abisina must come to terms with the idea that not all dwarfs, centaurs, etc., have ill will towards others.

    I really enjoyed the fantasy aspect of this novel as Abbott fleshes out the mythological creatures we don’t hear all that much about: centaurs, fauns, trolls, dwarfs, and fairies. Though we learn more about some than others, I was initially drawn to this novel because of the title—I wanted to know more about centaurs and Abbott definitely provided a lot of information. And, I love that she provided both sides of the coin for these creatures; not all are good, and not all are bad, which, again, goes back to the idea that we are all unique and prejudice against others is a terrible thing.

    Overall, I really enjoyed the journey Abisina embraks on in order to find her father and try to save her people from the evil that has taken over. At some points I did feel like the novel was a bit slow in terms of action, but when the action came, Abbott did a phenomenal job capturing the reader’s attention and bring it all to life.

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  • Posted December 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Read!

    When I picked this up I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but it grabbed me from the first page and I couldn't stop reading! This was an excellent Young Adult novel. The main character, Abisina, was fascinating and raw. Everything, from the storyline, to all of the characters, to the history of this world that Mrs. Abbot has constructed, seems so real and alive-very much like the trees that she wrote about that lived in Watersmeet. It was humorous and tragic, heartwarming and it made me angry in parts. Any book that makes you feel so many emotions is a treasure. And I haven't even begun on the writing! This woman knows her stuff! There was not one instance where I read a line and thought, "That doesn't seem right." This was beautifully written. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment!

    My only issue: What happened to Jorno? I kept expecting to see him pop up somewhere, and I find it hard to believe that such a brilliant character would be destroyed so quickly in the story. I'm holding out for hope that he'll appear in another book.

    Parents: In case you're wondering, this book contains lots of violence and abuse and bullying, but no sex. Think Lord of the Rings and Narnia.

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    Posted October 25, 2011

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    Posted November 18, 2010

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    Posted August 29, 2010

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    Posted August 29, 2009

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    Posted March 21, 2012

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