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Esme's Gift by Elizabeth Foster

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver faces her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift—the power to observe the past—and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must face their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places.

Esme's Gift is the second installment of the Esme trilogy, by author Elizabeth Foster. The fantasy adventure, aimed at readers 12 years and over, is a gripping read.

Foster packs Esme's Gift full of suspense, drama, a touch of romance, and plenty of action. This is a sequel and it would be hard to pick this up as a standalone story. To fully appreciate Foster's skill at world building and the back story, Esme's Wish needs to be read first.

This time around it was delightful to watch the bonds between the characters grow - Esme, Lillian and Daniel make for a formidable team. It's refreshing too to see young adults who work with their flaws and embrace them. Esme is likable and relatable, if a little too naive at times.

The book is pitched at its target audience beautifully. It's an easy read that will appeal to a broad range of readers. It's a fantasy that feels real, full of action without being too scary. The language Foster uses won't be too tricky for younger readers, but it also doesn't talk down to them by being too simple. It's also a wonderful book for parents and children to read aloud together. Adults won't find it boring or babyish - they'll be swept up by the Aeolia magic too.

Foster is a talented writer, she knows exactly how a trilogy works. While she answers some of the residual questions from the first book, she sets the story up perfectly for the third. Too often in a trilogy the middle book is a recap or a set-up, Foster combines both aspects perfectly, while also writing a cracking story full of its own mysteries.

Esme's Gift is a real page turner, full of delight and surprises. I can't wait to explore more of this magical world in the final book of the trilogy.

Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell Odyssey Books, RRP $23.95


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