Today I am reviewing a book filled with magic, mystery, and charm. The name of this lovely novel is “Esme’s Wish” by Elizabeth Foster, and I found this book charming. Elizabeth kindly asked me to give this an honest review, and she sent me a copy to read.
To start with my first impressions, this is a book that has a well-planned sea-themed world that is grounded in reality but mixed with magical fiction. I was so very impressed with the hook on this story, the world presented, and I couldn’t put the book down. I read the entire book in about a day.
And the thing that I want to applaud here is that though this is a YA novel, it doesn’t feel like one to me. It reads as an Action-Adventure with mixes of magic and sci-fi even. It does, however, have all of the elements of YA, and it’s the right length, but I didn’t even realize it was one until I was done and going through my notes.
Now with that said, let me go into some critiques here for “Esme’s Wish.” There was a minor story structure issue I found under the “Story Structure, Foundation, and Presentation” category of my scoring. Specifically, I didn’t feel the father’s character fleshed out enough as to why the daughter’s character would care what happened to him. I also felt no chemistry with the homelife that the daughter character had that would justify any reasoning why she would be concerned with it. I almost felt as though the story could have started without any of the acknowledgments of her previous life. One of the reasons I’m saying this is because it doesn’t exactly come up in the end. It’s glanced at, which is an acknowledgment at least, but it isn’t a critical story point for the whole story to move along.
Now, let me go into what I enjoyed about “Esme’s Wish,” and I’m starting with “Lost in Translation.” There are a lot of magic systems and ideas that were unique to the writing. The good news is that nothing was confusing, nor was it distracting. I never once was compelled to Google anything or figure out if it made any sense to the story. I found it delightful.
Under the category “Cliche Much,” I was so pleased to read that there were no cliche moments of tired and overused ideas. In YA, I think there are some misconceptions where cliche narratives have to exist and are boring to be considered YA. “Esme’s Wish” is the proof that is not so. I wasn’t bored or tired. I found the magic so unique, and even the character development was not pointed by point to many cliche things that could have gone on with the protagonist. I also never found the antagonist to be cliche either, nor his motive. I enjoyed the fresh take that this book had to so many good ideas.
For my next positive critique, I’d like to go into “Story Structure, Foundation, and Presentation”. I was so pleased with pacing, the tension in the story. I found that the story was plotted very well, and moved at an incredible pace. As far as the Story Structure, the characters are realistic and well-grounded. I found the plots and sub-plots to be compelling and understandable. I found the motivations to make a lot of sense for both the protagonist and antagonist. With the spelling, grammar, and all of the interface of the novel on Kindle, I was delighted. I love little icons and pictures in my books. I think it was a beautiful read and made the experience more delightful. I know there was a lot of time and effort spent into making this book a lovely read. So for me, all three categories were well-considered, and it read beautifully.
Last, but most certainly not least, I want to say how much I truly enjoyed the “Whole Story” of this book. I was so happy that every plot point and subplot and moment in this novel had a compelling conclusion. “Esme’s Wish,” reads as a standalone, and it’s not, it’s a starter for a series and the kind of opener I enjoy. This is a book that makes me desperately want to read the next one. I think anyone who loves fantasy and the sea would adore this novel. It’s so good.
With all of that in mind, I’m giving “Esme’s Wish” a wonderfully and well-earned score of 97/100. If you have a teenager who loves the sea, or a grandma who does, get them this book. It is excellent for 13 up, and I think that anyone could easily fall in love with the story and the setting.