Reviewing The Second Part Of The "Esme Series": Esme's Gift

§ I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel. §

When Esme returns to the "real world" she tries everything to convince her father that Aeolia is real. However, in the end she is forced to return on her own. Once back, she starts to live like the locals and goes to school, makes new friends and learns all kinds of things about this fantastical place. 

At the same time, Esme needs to find a way to help her mother wake up from a coma, and her new school is not as welcome as it seemed. At the same time, there is a new student and Esme can't stop being suspicious about him ... 

Esme's Gift Elizabeth Foster

"Esme's Gift" starts right where the first part, "Esme's Wish" stopped. This way, the books interlace seamlessly when you read them back to back. However, even if you find yourself taking a break of two years between these parts - i.e. if you are me - you are able to get back into the story. The first few pages are a little confusion but when Esme explains everything to her father, she also retells the story for the reader and the plot, and characters start to come back to you easily. 

Once Esme returns to Aeolia the plot stagnates a little. Esme starts to build a life in this other world, and as a reader you are taken along with it. This is where Foster's amazing world-building and way to describe a new environment comes into play: 

Esme goes school supplies shopping, and you know exactly what the shop and the people had been like. The school system is explained nicely, so that you could place your own characters á la fanfiction style into it as well. Once more, the details and world-building are unique and well handled. The information is distributed in the same moment Esme learns of it. Thus, info-dumping is avoided in this part as well. 

However, since this is the second part, I wonder if putting the focus on world-building and showing hasn't caused the plot to suffer. "Esme's Gift" has three plots, all of them sort of run parallel to each other:

  • Esme wants to cure her mother, since she is in a coma 
  • The new student in school is suspicious, and did he have anything to do with past events? 
  • There is a highly charged election at the moment 

So as you move on, you end up reading a little of this plot line, then some worldly information, then a little of the other plot line. Though, they all connect by the end, I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't have been more enjoyable if Foster had chosen one main plot and focused on it. 

Furthermore, of the three plots, only one finds a full conclusion. The other is left hanging, while the third has a question mark behind it. I hope that these find their ending in the next part of the series.  

Since "Esme's Gift" is set in a world as flawed as our own, Foster also manages to tackle and mention issues such as: toxic parents, racism, and prejudice that the older generation might have. However, she doesn't do so by obvious means. Instead, she uses clever metaphors or calmer moments to work through them. For example some people have gross prejudice towards Esme because she is an "other worlder" which provides a great metaphor for every day racism in our world. I feel that especially for teenagers and tweens who read this book, this is a softer and more "comfortable" way of approach and easy to understand. 

In the end, "Esme's Gift" is a suitable and enjoyable continuation of the Esme Series. It continues the first part and it is easy to get back into the story. Even if the plot takes some time to build up and show its true potential, the book provides a good and entertaining read. 

Personally I look forward to reading part three, also in the hope that the other two plotlines are brought to a conclusion!

Esme's Gift by Elizabeth Foster
Published2019by Odyssey Books
Series: Esme Series #2
Goodreads:Add to shelf

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