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Todd Jensen writes...

I read "Spirits of Ash and Foam" over the weekend. Here are my thoughts on it.


I really enjoyed it. You continued the story of Rain's quest, had her seek out the second zumi, but added some variety by having the quest revolve as much around rescuing the Kimlets and learning the sad story of Aycayia the Cursed as around the second zumi itself - but with Aycayia's story being linked to the second zumi - and the subplot of Miranda becoming part of the group.

I don't know much about the Taino myths and legends, but your book certainly encouraged me to find out more about them, if I can (just as the quest within the story has encouraged Rain to learn more - complete with surprising her teacher in a good way with her report on them). I liked the touch of the Taino vampire being linked to mosquitos rather than bats (and it certainly makes sense, when you think about it), and also Rain's discovery of the true story of Aycayia as a grieving mother rather than a temptress - not to mention the revelation that the true villain of the story is also the hurricane Julia (which was a good way, I thought, of tying things in together). we also got references to legends I was more familiar with, such as the notion of manatees being the origin of mermaid myths and about selkies.

The style of the legends themselves reminded me of the "Panther Queen" story in "Mark of the Panther" - more in the general atmosphere than in the details - I could even imagine that, if this was animation, the legends would have had their own animation style, different from that of the main story, just as the "Panther Queen" story did. I especially liked the touch of everything in the legends being "First [insert noun here]", emphasizing how they're set at the world's beginning.

A few other parts I particularly enjoyed were Rain, Charlie, and Miranda discussing the Kimlets' first names (and I could see why you named them after characters from "Peter Pan" as the story progressed), Rain's reading list for English class including "The Tempest" (how appropriate) and "To Kill a Mockingbird" (that one brought back memories; it was the first book on my 8th grade English class's reading list as well), and this bit from page 122: "[Rain] put [the book] back on the shelf. (And Charlie moved it back to where it *belonged* on the shelf.)" I work as a shelver at the library, and those two sentences rang true to me after so many times I'd found a book in the wrong place on the shelf and restored it to its rightful position.

Thanks for sharing this second book with us. I hope you get to have the other seven books published. (This time, the local bookstore had "Spirits of Ash and Foam" on the shelf; I didn't have to specially order it as I had to last time. That may be a good sign.)

Greg responds...

Zemi not zumi. And, yes, I think there's definitely some Panther Queen influence in there.

Glad you liked it!

Response recorded on July 30, 2015