Author: Ellen Jensen Abbott
Series: Watersmeet #1
Abisina is an Outcast in her village of Vranille, mostly for her dark skin and hair. Her mother is the town’s only healer, but it only buys her the right not to be thrown outside the walls entirely and left to the ruthless centaurs who prowl these lands. But when disaster strikes, and Abisina is left to fend for herself, she finds that not everything she has been told is the truth—not about herself, her family, or her world.
In a nutshell, this is a decent book about a young girl learning to overcome prejudice. Abisina may hate Vranille and its ways, but she’s picked up more of their mannerisms than she would care to admit, which makes dealing with nonhuman species such a challenge. Though it doesn’t help that many of those species would happily kill humans in a continuation of the atrocities both sides have been inflicting on each other.
I liked Rueshlan best. He’s an interesting man with some interesting gifts, and is one of the few with any level of magic. The explanation for power is completely missing, but it’s still fun to watch what he can do.
There also isn’t a lot done with history that isn’t relevant to the immediate story. The mines are a big part of Haret’s thoughts, but it all ends in a disappointing “I told you so.” And no clues are uncovered about the event (that had to be magic) that sealed them off. And then everyone just moves on because other things are happening. It still feels like there’s a lot beneath the surface, but the story stays tightly focused on its one main point which causes some potentially interesting sidequests to get ignored.
That said, it’s still a very simple story at heart, even though Abisina grants more complexity than I usually see when writers are dealing with this topic. If you like stories about prejudice, this one is well done. For myself, I’d rather have more action-adventure. I rate this book Neutral.