The Living Waters by Dan Fitzgerald

Two of the elite painted-faced nobles of the city on a roughabout: a rite of passage for the wealthy to test their meddle in the outdoors. Temi is a talented artist whose family is has fallen on hard times; she plans to disappear during the journey, so she can to get a fresh start. Sylvan has recently graduated in from school with a degree in biology and has been waiting to explore his area of focus, aquatic animals. 

They are joined by Leo their guide and Gilea their minder who is also a trained herbalist. They will to take the two adventurers downsteam… hopefully keeping them safe.

A float that will give them experience. Some wildlife to study, a storm to wait out, and maybe even a run-in with bugs, nasty creepers that find their way under your skin… But, the object of this quest is The Living Water. An occurance of mythological heights… the unexplainable swirls in the water that are allegedly the cause of so many unexplainable happenings. Will they be able to get past the gauntlet and find their destination?

At first I had no idea what type of book I was getting into… Is this Indiana Jones? Are we going upriver to find Kurtz? Or, is this a more of an inner journey? Two things come to a strict confluence in this book. One is the emphasis the royals put on skin color. They cover themselves head to toe and keep exposed skin painted at all times to keep an ultra-white pallor. Juxtapose this obsession with purity with the constant muddy and toxins in the river waters and Fitzgerald and definitely saying something. There’s so much subtlety in his writing that takes some reflection to really appreciate. I found myself going over select passages several times.

An easy read at just 300 pages and a small cast of characters… like the atmosphere of this book. The rhythm of the days and nights spent manning the oars. This book sneaks up on you and the freshness of the narrative continually made me want to read more. 

My only criticism lies in the early characterization. Much of it was through the actions of others to get a read on the main characters. I think I wanted a bit more from the narrator to fill in some of the gaps. The result was that it took me a little too long to get connected to Temi and Sylvan

Overall, a book that I will recommend to people looking to step away from so many of the overused tropes in fantasy writing. 

4 out of 5

Many thanks to Storytellers On Tour, and the author for putting together this tour.

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