cover image The Water Castle

The Water Castle

Megan Frazer Blakemore. Walker, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8027-2839-5

Blakemore (Secrets of Truth and Beauty) skillfully explores the intersection of science and magic in this multifaceted story. When 11-year-old Ephraim Appledore-Smith’s father suffers a stroke, the family leaves Cambridge, Mass., for his mother’s ancestral home in Crystal Springs, Maine. Known as the Water Castle, it’s where her family bottled water, long disappeared, that was believed to have healing powers—some claimed it came from a Fountain of Youth. Interspersed with chapters taking place in the Water Castle in 1908, the plot grows increasingly sophisticated as Ephraim becomes obsessed with finding the water he believes will cure his father. He and two classmates whose families have been linked to his for generations—not always positively—come together on a research project about explorer Robert Peary, but are soon, along with Ephraim’s siblings, discovering secret rooms and staircases in the intricately built house, in search of the water. While strongly suggesting that the water has magical, scientifically based powers, Blakemore refuses to provide a neat explanatory ending (which may frustrate some readers); instead, a sense of skeptical wonder pervades the book and lingers. Ages 10–14. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Jan.)