Tuesday 7 January 2020

The Cranky Book Reviewer read Esme's Gift by Elizabeth Foster

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in return for providing a review. There was no payment involved. 

Image from Amazon.com

Esme's Gift is the second book in the Esme Trilogy by Elizabeth Foster.

Summary (these are only spoilers if you haven't read Esme's Wish first)

I read Esme's Gift with interest, eager to follow the 15-year-old protagonist on her continued quest to save her mother, who is now lying unresponsive, in a healer's room in the magical land of Aeolia. In this installment of the story, Esme continues to explore and discover the new world around her as she learns to control her magical gift, which she thinks might be key to waking up her mother.

If you liked Harry Potter and The Hunger Games...

I noticed several shared themes with other popular YA series, but Ms. Foster approached the similarities in very different, more nuanced ways. 

If you look beyond a school full of magical classes, conflict between purebred families and otherworlders (kaff -- muggles) and corrupt politicians campaigning for control, there is a solid story about how Esme handles herself and the work she needs to do to master her magical abilities. There are themes of inner conflict between loyalty to her father and staying in the new world to help her mother. There are also undercurrents of empathy vs. cynicism as well as trust and overcoming prejudice from peers, teachers and authority figures. It's a lot to pick apart, but they are ably and naturally woven into the story.

What's good about this book?

Like the first book, there's lots of adventure and travel to absolutely beautifully-described places. The characters are intriguing and more dimensional, and some of the unanswered questions from the first book are resolved, while other mysteries are introduced (this is a trilogy, after all). And of course, there are dragons.

The author's use of language has matured, and descriptive metaphors take the place of similes. And -- it's happening -- there are awkwardly sweet attempts at setting up a romance (come on, book 3!). 

Overall, this book is a wonderful sequel to Esme's Wish, with increased character development and maturing themes (still very sweet), as well as even better writing than in the first.

The Cranky Book Reviewer also doesn't see the point of office dogs. What do they even do?
(Image credit: author's own)

Age recommendation

I'd recommend Esme's Gift to 12-15-year-olds. The themes of trust vs. distrust and the cynicism towards authority are a little darker than in the first book, as well as creating empathy via the various villains backstories, but there is nothing really inappropriate in it for younger teens.

My rating:

4 1/2 stars out of 5

I'm happy to have read it, and yes, I'd love to read the third book in the trilogy when it's finished!

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