It is so rare that a book moves me to tears, but it does happen occasionally. I sit there staring at the pages, or in this case my kindle, blinking them away, silently insisting to myself that I will not cry about a fictional story. And that's exactly what happened this morning.
I love this book. I know that's bad reviewer etiquette- to simply say you love it and walk away. But I did love it. I loved the characters, who were real and fleshed out and had their own personalities and strengths and weaknesses. I loved Owen, the eight year old boy who is both courageous and painfully shy. I loved Ankarette who was kind and loving and generous and clever to boot. I loved Elysabeth Victoria Mortimer who chatters non stop but deep down is a steadfast and loyal friend. And there were others who grew on me but I don't want to ruin anything for anyone who might be considering reading this.
The world building was wonderful. It is reminiscent of England. You'll see many names, like Yourk, which will remind you of their counterparts. To the people of the kingdom of Ceredigion though, a fountain, and a waterfall are sacred. The fountain can grant wishes if you wish upon it. The waterfall determines a man's guilt. The accused are given sanctuary at the fountain. The guilty die on this waterfall. Important people are "buried" this way. Some people, are fountain-blessed. To be fountain-blessed is to receive magical powers. They are rare and they receive different gifts, and it is said that their power will save them from the waterfall if they should go over. I would love to go into more gushing detail about the fountain-blessed but I don't want to spoil anything.
I was about halfway through the story before I realized how much of this book is based on The Cousins War. Ankarette is telling Owen the story of the old King Eredur. How he was brought into power by the Earl of Warrewik. How Warrewik rebelled against him when he did not get his way. How Eredur's wife is now in Sanctuary at Our Lady of the Fountain. How Eredur's sons, the two princes, have disappeared and are presumed dead but no one knows for sure. When I realized this, I started noticing many other similarities and was all the more impressed by the book. I love when history and fantasy collide. The author says in his note at the end, that this is, in a way, based on what might have happened if the Tudor's had never seized the throne from King Richard. And of course, if King Richard and other's had the powers of the fountain at hand.
The story telling here is subtle. The author shows you everything and tells you nothing. You start out feeling one way, or thinking one thing, and he expertly leads you to another conclusion entirely. I genuinely cared about most of these characters in the end. I already have loaned the second book from the kindle lending library, and hope it lives up to the expectations set here.
These books are frequently on sale for about $1.99 and can be borrowed from Kindle Owner's Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited. I mention this because I've had such bad luck with Kindle Unlimited books in the past year, and was put off by this. Don't let these things fool you- these are wonderful books! I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys fantasy or books about The Cousins War.