Published by Walker Childrens on January 8th 2013
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The story of a boy whose family has moved to his mother’s family estate in a small town in Maine to help his father recover from a stroke, and a girl, whose family have been the caretakers of that home for over 100 years, and how they work together to solve the mystery of the Fountain of Youth that their ancestors spent their lives searching for, and that just might save the boy’s father.
In The Water Castle, Ephraim’s father’s recent stroke brings them to move into a family mansion that they inherited, his mother hoping it will help his father heal. Moving to a small town means a new start for Ephraim and he wants to prove how smart he is right off the bat. Only when he gets to school, all the other kids are more intelligent than him, almost absurdly so. He finds out that his new home has it’s own myth as well, one that may involve the fountain of youth.
What I soon found enjoyable about this book is that it also includes the journal entries of a young black woman who worked closely with Ephraim’s now dead family. An intelligent woman, her journal entries reveal her interest in the journey to the North Pole and her assistance to a man who believed the fountain of youth to be real. I felt like her entries scattered throughout the book also leant itself to the mystery and getting more background into what was happening to this small town in Maine.
Ephraim himself is a somewhat difficult character to like at first. He’s boisterous when first arriving in his new school, thinking himself sophisticated and then uncomfortably finding it not to be so. He makes two friends slowly but surely. Mallory is an African American girl, one of the few in town and she is a brilliant and opinionated girl. Her father was the caretaker of the mansion until the Appledore’s moved back in and she dislikes his awe of the place and his servitude attitude. Will Wylie is one of the popular boys at school and their friendship is a wonder to the town as his father heavily dislikes the Appledores for reasons long passed. With the help of his new friends, they find that there may actual be a fountain of youth and in their town nonetheless.
The complexity of The Water Castle was one that appealed to me, but I have to warn future readers that it takes a while to get into the book for things to start moving. Blakemore puts in place a lot of background and mystery that does not fully develop until about halfway through the book. Ephraim may be a bit insufferable at first as a main character, but you get to see him change as he makes friends and deals with everything that is happening around him.
Overall, The Water Castle was a book that surprised me and I loved the adventure and mystery that ultimately leads to the end. The historical aspects of seeing into the past also leant itself to telling this story involving the fountain of youth. I think most readers will enjoy this one if you can push past some of the slower points of the book.