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Title: Vodnik by Bryce Moore
Published: March 28, 2012
Publisher: Tu Books
Rating: 4 / 5
When Tomas was six, someone — something — tried to drown him. And burn him to a crisp. Tomas survived, but whatever was trying to kill him freaked out his parents enough to convince them to move from Slovakia to the United States. Now sixteen-year-old Tomas and his family are back in Slovakia, and that something still lurks somewhere. Nearby. It wants to drown him again and put his soul in a teacup. And that’s not all. There’s also the fire víla, the water ghost, pitchfork-happy city folk, and Death herself who are after him. If Tomas wants to survive, he’ll have to embrace the meaning behind the Slovak proverb, So smrťou ešte nik zmluvu neurobil. With Death, nobody makes a pact.
Disclaimer: I always try to be honest and impartial in my reviews my goal is not to tear down a writers work but to offer my most humble constructive opinions. Be it negative or positive it meant to be taken as such, after all these are just my opinions so please take it with a grain of salt.
Favorite Quote – “I missed it all?” Dad asked on my left. He sounded disappointed. “Be glad you did” I said.
When I first read the synopsis of Vodnik I thought well this is something new and immediately I wanted to read it. The Plot was original using Slovakian legends to tie in a fish out of water slash self discovery story of the main character Tomas. As a young child after a horrific accident Tomas leaves Slovakia to live in America. In America Tomas is a fish out of water he doesn’t fit in, and when he returns to his native country of Slovakia at age 16, after his family loses their home in a terrible fire. He discovers he doesn’t fit there as well. Not to mention the culture shock Tomas encounters when he first arrives. The plot also includes a deal with death, social issues like racism, unemployment, refugee like conditions for the Roma (gypsies) is touched upon as a tie to the racism arc. They live denied of opportunities many degenerate into a life of crime while some crawl in a bottle and drink themselves into oblivion. Which just re-enforces the Slovaks low opinion of Roma which is addressed quite often.
I loved the format of the book— at the beginning of each chapter there is an excerpt from from the guide book of the dead. Giving the reader a little detail about magical creatures in Slovakia. I enjoyed Vodnik immensely the bridge between the old world and new set against the backdrop of a medieval castle. I liked the conflict “the bigget gang” added, after Tomas has a horrible encounter with them. That made me so angry, he’s forced to learn to protect himself thus becoming stronger, and has the has the added benefit of making Tomas better equipped to face the Vodnik. I thought the story was original, the setting was amazingly quaint and old world. I was introduced to Slovakian legends which I thought was cool. The pacing was ok there were moments when the story stalled for me but overall I enjoyed the experience.
I don’t have much negative things to say my issues are minor and don’t affect your enjoyment of the book. Just moments I found personally I didn’t like. For one thing the pacing overall was good except for those moments when the story lulled. The constant mention of the racism the Roma experienced was annoying after a while, show don’t tell and tell. The instances where the writer shows how the Roma are poorly treated conveys the point. I’m not saying he shouldn’t tell but not so much that Tomas comes off as a whiner or an angry kid. He mentions the racism element in almost every chapter. I would recommend this book for fantasy buffs the Slovakian legends will be something new compared to our legends here in the United States. Or anyone looking for something original to read—age group 12 and up. Since there is no cursing or mature scenes in the book. I gave Vodnik a four out of five.