Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book Review: The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt

by Kimberly Willis Holt
Ages 14 and up
Genre: Historical fiction

When Amos Kincaid was born, his mother died, and his trapper father, away most of the year, came home to the surprise of his existence. He took baby Amos to his brother and sister-in-law to raise. Years later, after much has befallen young Amos, his father returns with a new wife, to reclaim Amos.

This is a book that is hard to describe or summarize. It is a book about love and loss, the harshness of frontier life, learning to accept people for who they are, about family and what that means. At its heart, this book is a coming-of-age story set during the days of frontier life, in which Amos grows from baby to man, and the important events that contribute to the "making" of him.

I borrowed this from the library, attracted by the beautiful cover and intriguing title, but not really knowing what to expect. The inside cover of the book is quite cryptic:
"What would you do if you knew you had a special gift -a sixth sense- that was passed down from one generation to the next? A gift that could help people in times of need, but one your father often saw as a trap. Would you use that gift? This is the story of Amos Kincaid, the dowser's son."
The subject of dowsing is mentioned right away in the book. We learn that Jake Kincaid -Amos' father- has the inherited the "gift" of dowsing (finding water deep in the ground through the use of a "divining rod"), but that he never-the-less prefers the life of a trapper. Despite the title and provocative book cover blurb, dowsing doesn't seem to play a major role in the book. After having read the book, the questions posed on the inside book cover don't seem really relevant. The cover makes it sound like that is what the story is about, but I felt like the dowsing was just part of who they were, not a central driving element of the story. Amos himself never really seems to dwell on those questions.

I spent the first third of the book wondering where the story was going, but I couldn't bring myself to put it down! I had to find out what was going to happen with Amos. The book has a melancholy feel, and yet is also full of the resilience of hope. I ended up really liking it. I'm so glad I read it. And, since this author is new to me, I will be checking out her other books.

(My library has categorized this as Young Adult. I would agree with that. There are a lot of mature themes in this book.)

Book published by Henry Holt and Company
Copyright 2010
309 pages
This copy borrowed from the library

Also check out these other reviews:
Becky's Book Reviews
Willow Lane Reviews


  1. This one is a TBR for me. And what a great idea...posting links to other blogger reviews of the same book!!!

  2. Oh, let's see--I read one by Willis Holt before--maybe When Zachary Beaver Came to Town--didn't she write that? I liked it, if I remember correctly.

    This sounds really good! Great review!

  3. Kathy - I've seen that feature on other blogs, and I love it: several different reviews that give me a better "picture" all in one place.

    Amy - Thanks! I think that was one of the ones I saw when I researched more of her books.