When Marcus magically travels to Farworld, he meets Kyja, a girl without magic in a world where spells, charms, and potions are everywhere, and Master Therapass, a master wizard who has kept a secret hidden for thirteen years, a secret that could change the fate of two worlds.
But the Dark Circle has learned of Master Therapass's secret and their evil influence and power are growing. Farworld's only hope is for Marcus and Kyja to find the mythical Elementals —water, land, air and fire —and convince them to open a drift between the worlds.
As Kyja and Marcus travel to Water Keep, they must face the worst the evil Dark Circle can throw at them —Summoners, who can command the living and the dead; Unmakers, invisible creatures that can destroy both body and soul; and dark mages known as Thrathkin S'Bae.
Along the way, Marcus and Kyja will discover the truth about their own heritage, the strength of their friendship, and the depths of their unique powers.
Water Keep by J. Scott Savage is the first book in his Farworld series. Telling the tale of two kids from different worlds where neither of them really fit in. Marcus is an orphan on Earth who has been crippled his whole life, when he was found outside a small monastery in Arizona he wasn't expected to survive. The combination of being in a wheelchair and being an orphan has always made him a target for other kids at the schools where he has bounced around. Kyja is also an orphan. She lives on a world called Farworld where everyone, even the animals, can do magic in some form, everyone except Kyja that is. Growing up for her has been hard as many people fear that she is diseased or cursed and refuse to let their children interact with her for fear that her condition will spread.
This book was very entertaining with strong characters, excellent pacing, and vivid imagery being used to describe the various locations in Farworld. It's not unusual for children in YA tales to have to overcome a perceived weakness and find strength, but Savage does a great job keeping his story from being a cookie cutter copy of an established trope. Marcus and Kyja's diversity has given them a bit more resiliency than normal thirteen year old kids would have, but each of them has developed different coping mechanisms that come into play through their adventures. The supporting cast of characters was also spot on. Riph Raph, Kyja's pet skyte (a small dragon like creature), was a great source of comedy with his constant verbal sparring with Marcus.
The scenery of Farworld is not too terribly different from Earth, everything just seems to be brighter. There are plenty of things that set it apart in a major way though. The fact that farm animals can talk and use that ability to tell jokes is a bit of fun. The parts where the dawn chimes appear are especially capable of capturing the imagination.
Overall this is a great start to a series and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest and sharing it with my daughter when she is a little older.
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