When Tomas was six, someone--something--tried to drown him. And burn him to a crisp. Tomas survived, but whatever was trying to kill him freaked out his parents enough to convince them to move from Slovakia to the United States.
Now sixteen-year-old Tomas and his family are back in Slovakia, and that something still lurks somewhere. Nearby. Ready to drown him again and imprison his soul in a teacup.
Then there's the fire víla, the water ghost, the pitchfork-happy city folk, and Death herself who are all after him.
All this sounds a bit comical, unless the one haunted by water ghosts and fire vílas or doing time in a cramped, internet-deprived teacup is you.
If Tomas wants to survive, he'll have to embrace the meaning behind the Slovak proverb, So smrťou ešte nik zmluvu neurobil. With Death, nobody makes a pact.
Tomas is a complex character. When he was six years old, someone or something tried to drown him. He ended up horribly scarred. It freaked his family enough to leave Slovakia and come to the United States. It didn't help that Tomas also had a very vivid imagination at that time and 'claimed' to speak with such creatures as the water ghost.Tomas doesn't remember much of what happened that one fateful night that scarred him. Then after his family house is gutted by fire, his parents decide to move back to Slovakia. Once there, Tomas encounters the 'truth' behind his scar along with a very colorful cast of paranormal creatures that include the Vodnik, the water ghost, and even Death herself.
I really enjoyed this fantasy! Tomas's encounters at first seem like he's going insane but once he realizes these creatures aren't a figment of his imagination that's when this story comes to life. His pace with Death to help his seriously ill cousin, while still trying to figure out if his very vivid childhood imagination was in fact real, get him in some very sticky situations. I also loved the family in this story. Sure, Tomas isn't too excited at first to leave the comfort of his former home in the United States for a new home in a former communistic county but later learns that the only way to come to peace with his past is to embrace his roots. **I love stories like these! His father and uncle are very encouraging of Tomas even when some of his adventures seem a little 'off'.
The references to racism ring very true too. In Slovakia the Roma, modern-day Gypsies, are harassed and bullied. There's one scene that's very intense and shows how hatred of a group of people can trigger violent reactions.
Tomas's humor over everything lightens what could be an otherwise darker tale. This is a coming of age story where Tomas goes on his own journey to discover more about his past and his own abilities.
Tu Books has to be one of my favorite publishers because they embrace diversity and open up whole new worlds of enchantment to readers. VODNIK has something for everyone: humor, action, mystery, and of course the trickster Vodnik. Think the Mad Hatter after too many Red Bulls!
Another winning Tu Books tale!
2. Dark humor
3. Coming of Age tale where Tomas goes on journey to find his past while learning to come to terms with his own abilities
4. Another Tu Books winning tale