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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Under the Waterfall by Sally Odgers

Under the Waterfall by Sally Odgers
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (312 pages)
Age Recommendation: Not specified
Rating: 5 Suns
Review by: Orchid

Someone is out to kill Corrie. Athen Bard offers to help her, but why does he look so much like her disabled brother, Ethan? Why does everybody but Athen despise her? If Corrie is to survive, she needs to solve the mysteries, fast.

Athen Bard is amazed to meet a strange girl who looks just like his dead sister, Corrayo. In the world of Sisterin, women rule and men are unimportant. How can Athen deal with a girl who says she comes from another world?

"Be careful what you wish for, it might come true." This phrase is often heard by young people when they are complaining about something not going their way. Unfortunately for Corrie, her wish did come true.

Three years after Corrie's younger brother Ethan is badly hurt in an accident he still hasn't fully recovered. Corrie usually accepts his slowness, but occasionally she feels stifled by the restraints her parents put in place to protect Ethan. A family holiday at a quiet campsite turns into a life threatening journey for Corrie when she swims through a waterfall and finds herself in another world.

The first person Corrie meets looks exactly like her brother, but his name is Athen. The language is slightly different but she discovers she has arrived in a world where women are in control. By a weird coincidence she discovers Athen's sister Corrayo died in an accident three years before.

Everyone in Sisterin has a crede. Crede's can be clothers, bards, scryers, seers, weavers or a member of one of the many other credes. Nullards have no creed and are considered too lazy to work. Males are bois who the women consider to be lesser citizens.

Athen, the bard, looks after the creedless Corrie. Despite several attempts to swim back through the waterfall, Corrie is unable to escape Sisterin and instead joins Athen in a visit to a seer who she dubs Weird Sarah. Corrie is overcome by sickness and even the slightest mishap affects her like a major accident. What awaits them at the seer's will affect the future of Athen, Corrie and the seer.

Under the Waterfall catches the attention from the first page and continues to hold the reader right through to the last page. At first it seems Corrie will return home quite quickly, but when her attempts fail she is faced with a dilemma. Should she resign herself to a life in Sisterin? Or should she keep trying to get home. The similarities between her world and Athen's cause her some confusion and at times put her in danger, but with Athen's help she keeps trying to overcome the difficulties. The journey to the seer makes Corrie realize something more sinister is creeping up on her, threatening to destroy her completely.

The similarities between Athen and her brother Ethan, and herself and Athen's dead sister, make Corrie take a good look at herself. She doesn't like all that she sees but from what Athen tells her she thinks Corrayo was definitely the nastier one. Right to the very end there is no indication that Corrie will be successful in her attempt to return home. She even begins to doubt her very existence.

Ms Odgers has built a brilliant world and society, one which her main character could easily understand once she had overcome the initial strangeness. This is a strong story and it was a pleasant surprise to find the tale did not rely on elves, magic or ogres to carry it along. Well done Ms Odgers. This is definitely a book I am happy to recommend as a good read.

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