The Springsweet (The Vespertine #2)

The VespertineBy Saundra Mitchell

Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
Publication Date: April 17, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Publisher

Heartbroken over the tragic death of her fiancé, seventeen-year-old Zora Stewart leaves
Baltimore for the frontier town of West Glory, Oklahoma, to help her young widowed
aunt keep her homestead going. There she discovers that she possesses the astonishing
ability to sense water under the parched earth.

When her aunt hires her out as a “springsweet” to advise other settlers where to dig their wells, Zora feels the burden of holding the key to something so essential to survival in this unforgiving land. Even more, she finds herself longing for love the way the prairie thirsts for water.

Maybe, in the wildness of the territories, Zora can finally move beyond simply surviving and start living.

Goodreads Summary

It’s been a year since her beloved Thomas was shot and killed, but 17-year-old Zora hasn’t been able to pull herself out of her mourning depression. Her mother and friends have plans to push her back into society to find a husband but Zora has no interest in being unfaithful to Thomas’ memory – any marriage in her future will be intentionally loveless.

With the push west well underway, there’s a demand for mail order brides for homesteaders and miners and Zora sees it as a perfect solution, one that will keep her heart protected. She takes the decision out of her mother’s hands by deliberately damaging her reputation by kissing Theo de la Croix, a slick stranger who seems to have his eye on her. Zora’s mother gives her what she wants, in a way – she gets her ticket west, but not to be married. Instead, she’s sent to Oklahoma to live with her Aunt Birdie.

When she arrives in dry, dusty Oklahoma, Zora discovers she has a mystical connection to the water running underground. To her Aunt Birdie, who’s struggling just to keep herself, her daughter and Zora fed, she’s a potential moneymaking dowser. To Emerson Birch, a young man who rescued her from robbers, she’s a springsweet, someone with gifts that complement his own with growing things. Theo de la Croix has followed Zora from Baltimore to Oklahoma and he doesn’t care about her talent with water at all, he just plainly intends to court her. Go ahead, cue the creepy music, you know you want to.

While it sounds like there might be a little love triangle, Mitchell never seems to focus there. This is obviously Zora’s story, but it’s also sort of Zora and Birdie’s story. Of all the relationships Zora has, it’s her aunt that understands her best and honestly tries to do her best for her. Birdie is a wonderful, strong woman – just 22, she has a young child and a home of her own to try and sustain with almost no income. She’s tough but not bitter, realistic but not without hope and pragmatic enough to know she can use Zora’s talent at finding water to buy some security for her family.

Zora begins the book as a character that’s obviously lost and doing some wallowing in her grief. She didn’t just lose Thomas – there were events at the end of the last book that resulted in the deaths of three other people that were close to her. There were other people who were close to those who died as well and they’d all gathered themselves and decided to move on – only Zora was still outwardly mourning too. Her discovery of her talent as a springsweet were like a switch – thankfully – and she found her backbone and sense of purpose again. I loved her sisterly relationship with Birdie and her motherly relationship with her little cousin Louella. It was always through the dynamic between the three of them that I could figure out where Zora was in her healing process. Although they were few and far between, when she was with Emerson, I thought it was adorable how funny she was – it was a nice reminder that in the first book, she was sort of a silly chatterbox.

I think the guys got a little shortchanged again (same issue I had with the first book). I’ll go ahead and repeat myself for my own sake and say this was Zora’s story, not theirs, but at least Emerson’s was entwined with hers a bit and I’d have liked to have known more about him than what he told me in a single scene. There just flat out wasn’t enough of him. Despite his apparent obsession with her, Theo was less than impressive in his pursuit of Zora. I stalk my morning coffee more aggressively. He was in more scenes – which I’d rather have had Emerson in – but he was a kind of wishy-washy presence.

The plot for The Springsweet is straightforward and if you strip the settings and character specifics off, this book and The Vespertine are pretty similar stories. The beauty of Mitchell’s writing style made me forget most of that while I was reading and I’m sure the minute I pick it up again, I won’t care then either. I love the way she sets a scene and is able to use such a small amount of dialogue yet have her characters express so much. Her descriptions of the Oklahoma landscape are beautiful – if maybe too idyllic – and she captures the level of poverty well.

My Summary: I’d been anticipating this book for a while and it didn’t disappoint me, even if there were bits here and there that I’ve complained about. I’m a romanceaholic but I can live with the fact that it’s light because the relationships between Zora and Birdie and Zora and her friends were wonderful and they all actually enhanced the ending for me. I liked the story and characters a lot – I loved Mitchell’s beautiful writing which has put it on my reread shelf. I can’t wait until next year and the last book in the trilogy, Aetherborne.

My Rating: B+

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Comments

  1. phnxprmnt021 says:

    Ah, I’m super-jealous now. Vespertine was a nice change, and I’m actually really happy to hear Springsweet is about Zora, and focuses on her and her relationships with female characters! It sounds like Mitchell knows what she’s doing 😀 I’m not so much for romance, so I don’t think the skimping in that dept. would bother me. Thanks for the review, it definitely made this one a higher priority!

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