Between the Water and the Woods

illus. by Sara Kipin. 320p. Holiday House. Mar. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780823440207.
Gr 4 Up—Emeline lives in a quiet village with her energetic brother and bookish father. She's content with her simple life until the day she rescues her brother from what seems to be a Dark Creature in the woods across the river. As witnesses to the strange creature, Emeline and her brother Dale are required by law to report the sighting to the king. She sets off with her brother, her father, a neighbor (to drive the wagon and provide protection), and a stowaway. Along the way they encounter a Lash Knight, one of the king's soldiers, and a grumpy king's counselor. Emeline learns that the king is advised by two groups: the Sapients who don't believe in Dark Creatures or magic, and the Theurgists, who do believe in them. Both groups are willing to do anything to get what they want—the king's ear. This puts Emeline at risk because she has her own kind of magic. Determined to protect her people and her secret, Emeline and her companions find themselves in the midst of a large, baffling city, and politics that they don't understand. But with the help of Sir Reese, the Lash Knight, Emeline just might find the courage to face the dangers around her. A delightfully fresh fantasy that mixes science and magic in fascinatingly complex ways.
VERDICT A first choice for libraries where fantasy and steampunk are popular.

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