The guilds had existed for two and a half thousand years, and it certainly wasn't the first time that tragedy had struck and claimed the life of an Elemental before their time. It had happened before, and it was sure to happen again, but for Memphis Gray, it was the first time that tragedy had struck so close to home in her own small world.
The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire by Iain Reading had a promising premise. There are individuals who can manipulate the elements of the world - air, water, fire, and earth. When the energy of two are combined a powerful force is created. Some times great things happen and other times catastrophic events results. The mission of the Waterfire Guild is to maintain balance in nature and the combination of water and fire has positive effects. However, the another ancient guild, the EarthAir, are set on upsetting the balance, causing natural disasters for personal profit.
However, this young adult novel does not live up to expectation. Focused on a guild made up of teenagers, a reader can make quick comparison to Harry Potter, but the writing is lacking the sophistication of of J, K. Rowling. I found the story to be disjointed and often felt the author had to insert "explanations" because the story was contradicting itself. I have to wonder if Reading uses an outline.
The reading level of the book was lower than I was expecting as well. I thought it was a young adult novel. The teens are high school seniors, yet the story read like a middle grades novel. The lack of parental involvement and what adults were present were child-like incarnations (the way a child would like for an adult to be) instead of responsible adult.
Things like the kids hanging out in a secret hideout with the uncle of one the teens, being rushed off to Greece in the middle of the week when there is school, and the eccentric "Mr. Park" were more like the elements I find in middle grade fantasy novels, than one for high school students. There is so little parental involvement that when one student falls off the stage during the performance and needs to go to the hospital the parents are no where to be seen and no one in the story thinks this is unusual.
I'm sure my views of The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire were colored by my editing a manuscript while reading it (I have trouble turning off my "editor eyes") and the fact it followed the superbly written young adult novel, When You Leave by Monica Ropal. Seriously, though if this had not been a Netgalley book for review, I would have given up 50 pages in. I think Reading has potential as a writer and for younger readers this might be a great book.
Buy The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire at Amazon
available formats: ebook and paperback (268 pages)
published: April 2014
audience: middle grades/young adult
read: March/April 2015
A free egalley was provided for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. Thank you for supporting this blog.