"For Sebastian, the only choice he feels he can make is to take action and look for the missing queen, even if it means he can never go home again. This way, at least someone is actually doing something, not just sitting around. Nell has lived a structured and rigid life, never breaking a rule, but never feeling she fitted in either. Stowing away on a field trip that she never got permission to go on is the biggest rule break she has ever done, and she is sure something bad is going to happen to her for it. The Water Kingdom (The Water Novels Book 1) tells the story of Sebastian and his quest, and what happens when he accidentally runs into Nell. Author Deborah Gray takes a fantasy/fiction story of two different worlds and mixes it with coming of age, romance, and finding your voice to give young adult readers a meaningful and rich story.
The Water Kingdom is titled to be the first in a series so let me warn you now, the end is a cliffhanger! It's a natural ending point, but at the same time there are many unanswered questions, so a second book feels like a must. Author Deborah Gray writes in an easy, confident manner that engages the reader, and has you identifying with the characters, remembering people just like them from your own high school experience. Although it is set in a fantasy/fiction setting, the plot line and issues of not fitting in, feeling alone, and not having a choice in life are issues that teens today all feel that they are faced with. This is a great book for all readers; it is clean, there is no sex or graphic violence so I recommend it for any age group."
- Michelle Randall, Readers' Favorite
Young Adult Finalist
"In Deborah Gray’s The Water Kingdom, Nell Cunningham sneaks along on a field trip to White Shell Lagoon, but finds more than she bargained for—including a violet-eyed boy who clearly isn’t human. Meanwhile, Sebastian has been tasked with finding his lost queen and her priceless locket, but there’s danger around every corner for him—and for Nell, too.
Though its plot is certainly intriguing, The Water Kingdom also has some aspects about it that are a bit too cliché and predictable. Many of these obvious hints and tropes give away the plot twists before they happen, which perhaps takes some of the fun out of the story in general. Also, there were many scenes and plot points that were far too rushed, hurtling the reader through a fast-paced plot that may have been better executed if it had been slowed down a tad. Aside from that, The Water Kingdom is an incredibly entertaining young adult novel that shows a lot of promise.
The Water Kingdom’s greatest strength lies in its imaginative and descriptive storyline. Exciting and fascinating from the first page, this story is full of adventure, mystery, and delightful fantasy. Deborah Gray is a talented writer, seamlessly weaving lifelike characters and impeccable detail into a narrative that is consistently riveting. In many ways, The Water Kingdom is so well-written that it seems overwhelmingly believable at times. The Water Kingdom is a brilliant, creative novel that is impossible to put down—and will certainly inspire many equally great sequels in the future."