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Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I am thrilled to be a part of the Whirl Blog Tour and excited to be able to bring to you today my review, an author interview with Emma Raveling, and an ebook giveaway courtesy of Emma. Please visit Emma's website to see the full tour schedule.

You can learn more about and connect with Emma Raveling here:
You can now purchase Whirl here:

Whirl (Ondine Quartet #1)

Seventeen-year-old Kendra Irisavie is an ondine, a water elemental caught in the middle of an ancient war with the Aquidae, immortal dark demons who will stop at nothing to destroy the fragile balance of the Elemental world.
Fierce and independent, Kendra has always played by her own rules. Gifted with the powerful magic of Virtue and trained to be a deadly fighter, she has spent her life breaking hearts and getting into trouble.
When her life explodes one violent night in a northern California city, a dark stranger appears, promising answers to her mysterious past. Alone and with no one to trust, she must now navigate through a dangerous new world, face the temptations of a forbidden romance, and remain true to her duty and destiny.
All while the Aquidae continue to hunt her down, in the hopes of eliminating her forever…

THREE WORDS: Original. Beautiful. Captivating

MY "I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK" REACTION": Want. Sequel. Now. Please. Oh and can I please be a ondine too?

MY REVIEW: Whirl has one of the most intriguing synopses that I’ve read in a long while, but they way the synopsis grabbed my attention cannot even begin to compare to how gripping I found the book itself. Emma Raveling’s debut novel Whirl is a captivating, imaginative, enchanting, enticing, fast paced page turner.

Seventeen year old Kendra’s life changes forever the night her mother dies. Kendra is an ondine, a powerful water elemental, who, along with her mother, has lived away from the ondine community and in the human world her entire life. After her mother is killed, the mysterious and good looking Tristan comes to take her back to Haverleau, an ondine community in Washington. Once in Haverleau and among her own kind, Kendra quickly learns things about herself, her mother, and her purpose that she never expected. With new friends, complicated romances, and an unasked for fate, Kendra must find herself and her power in order to defeat the evil Aquidae who are out to get her.

Whirl pulled me in from the beginning and by the last sentence of the prologue I was hooked. In Whirl, Raveling has created a highly original and spellbinding fantasy world full of charismatic characters, a thrilling story, creative fantasy elements, and some sizzling romance.

I love how Raveling took a fantasy/mythical being- the ondine- that has not been explored much in YA books, and created such an intricate and fascinating world around it. From the detailed histories of the ondine to the governing infrastructure within Haverleau to the societal hierarchy in this community, Raveling provides so much detail, background, and development that this world she created, especially Haverleau, and the people within it, seem incredibly real and believable.

There is a large cast of characters, all very well developed and engaging. I really love the heroine Kendra. She is one of those perfectly flawed characters that could easily demand your attention, but doesn’t have to because you can’t help simply giving it to her. Kendra is witty, independent, tough, clever, and compassionate, but she’s also quick to judge, hasty to act and speak, and has a temper…yet, underneath her tough, hard exterior lies an insecure vulnerability. I instantly connected with Kendra and found her to be a relatable and impossible to ignore. Kendra’s new friends, Chloe, Aubrey, Ryder, Cam, and Alex provide an eclectic and refreshing reprieve for both Kendra and readers alike.

Two of the most intriguing characters are the charming Julian and the mysterious Tristan, both of whom make for very different romantic interests for Kendra. Julian is a rich, charismatic demillir (male ondine-born) who serves as a chevalier (knight or protector of the water elementals). Julian and Kendra often share witty, sarcastically insulting banter and always seem to be trying to one up each other. Julian really gets underneath Kendra’s skin, but there exist an undeniable attraction and pull between the two. Scenes involving these two were always fun to read. Tristan on the other hand is a gardinel (a selkie warrior) and his job is to protect Kendra. A romance between Tristan and Kendra would be most forbidden and dangerous, but their connection is palpable. The chemistry between these two sizzles right off the page and is enticingly hot. Both men are completely swoon-worthy and I cannot wait to see how this little love triangle progresses.

The story itself is fast paced and never boring. There were scenes that left me breathless and wanting more and scenes that took me by surprise. Raveling doesn’t shy away from the realistic and vivid when it comes to the fight scenes; there’s an exciting edge to the way she presents these scenes. The fantasy elements are, well, fantastic. Kendra’s ondine powers are explored in such a way that I found them wickedly cool. Raveling has truly presented the world of water elements in a new, fresh way.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: I am always impressed when a writer can create a new, refreshing, and fantastical world that I’ve never imagined before, and I’m doubly impressed when I find myself longing to be back in that world hours after I’ve put a book down…when it comes to Whirl consider me doubly impressed. Whirl is an enchanting, fun, beautifully written novel. I will eagerly be awaiting the next book in the series. A definite MUST read!

My Rating
5 Cupcakes

I received an ebook review copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Interview with Emma Raveling

Emma Raveling is a fantasy author who leads a slightly eccentric life traveling throughout the world with her accommodating husband and charming, neurotic dog.
Hopelessly addicted to coffee and diet coke, she has a strange love of spreadsheets and organizational tools because they give her the illusion that she is somehow in control of the chaos that is her life. A dedicated practitioner of vipassana meditation, Emma loves to cook and often spends time scouring the Internet for new recipes. She adores beautiful art such as painting and sculpture, classical music, lyrical writing, and great graphic design.
Whirl is her debut book. She is currently busy at work writing Billow, the second installment of the Ondine Quartet series.
How would you describe/summarizes Whirl in a tweet using ONLY 140 characters?

A journey of fantasy, magic, action, and romance as a fiercely independent teenage girl faces the difficult reality of her destiny.

An excellent tweet that perfectly describes Whirl.

Where did the idea or inspiration for Whirl and the Ondine Quartet series come from?

Whirl was actually inspired by a piece of classical music. The French composer Maurice Ravel composed a work for solo piano called Gaspard de la Nuit. This music was based upon a series of poems by Aloysius Bertrand.

The first movement of Ravel’s work, entitled Ondine, is based upon the poem of the same name by Bertrand. I included this poem as the epigraph in Whirl. Not only is it the inspiration behind the entire series, but it also becomes relevant to the overarching story as the series progresses. Based upon an old French myth, the poem tells the story of Ondine, a water nymph who sings to a mortal man, attempting to lure him to her. He rejects her love and pleas to join her in ruling the water world. Rejected and heartbroken, Ondine fades away, disappearing beneath the waves.

I highly recommend readers of Whirl to listen to Ravel’s Ondine. It poignantly captures the essence of Bertrand’s poem, and the intricate music immediately calls to mind the haunting, tragic image of the beautiful Ondine fading away into the water. 

I just love the poem in the beginning and I love the story of Ondine. 

Your characters in Whirl are very realistic and relatable, especially Kendra. Are any of them based on people in your real life? Did you put a bit of yourself into any of your characters?

If similarities exist between my characters and people I know in real life, it was not a conscious connection. However, I do think writers naturally take bits and pieces of things they’ve perceived or experienced with people and these little puzzle pieces unconsciously filters into their work. So certain aspects of my characters were most likely taken from things I’ve seen in my life.

There are some aspects to Kendra that I think come from my own past. I definitely went through a rebellious phase as a teenager. Although my personality was very different from Kendra, her need to push boundaries and challenge the rules is something that I very much can relate to.

But, I believe it’s not something unique to me. Most teenagers, in some way or another, feel that. After all, that’s part of what growing up means.

I really love Kendra's rebellious nature! She reminds me a great deal of my teenage sister.

Did you research myths and lore surrounding water elementals and ondines? Did any of these stories influence the development of your fantasy world in Whirl.

I didn’t do that much research into the lore around water elementals, other than understanding the basics of selkie mythology. The reason why was because I wanted to create my own mythology and world. I spent a great deal of time imagining and creating the rules and structure of the Ondine Quartet world - everything from the history of the society, magic and special powers, politics and government, the different races of water elementals, and societal and moral values.

I also spent a great deal of time studying French and etymology. Many of the words I created to use in Whirl (such as race names, location names, special terms, etc) were constructed out of specific meanings, and the combination of various word roots.

You definitely did an amazing job of creating your own world and mythology in Whirl; it was one of the aspects I loved best.

Do you have the other books in the Ondine Quartet series planned out? Could you tell us a bit about the sequel Billow?

I’m a devout planner and had the entire Ondine Quartet series planned out before I even started writing Whirl. Although each book in the series will have a self-contained plot and story, it was important for me to be aware of the entire arch and course of the series. There are different sub-plots and themes planted in Whirl that will play out toward the end of the series.

Billow begins six months after the end of Whirl. Kendra has, for the most part, adjusted to Haverleau life and enters the chevalier elite training program under the tutelage of the gardinels. But she is still dealing with the aftermath of what happens in Whirl, and struggles with issues within herself and in her relationships with other characters. Tristan and Julian both become further complications and a new threat from the Aquidae hangs over Haverleau. Kendra soon finds herself in a situation where she will be tested to her limits, and it will drastically alter the course of her life.

Billow sounds like it will be just as fantastic and captivating as Whirl! I'm already very excited to read it.

In Whirl there are 8 Virtues (powers) that first born Ondines can have: Clairvoyance, Kinesis, Projection, Healing, Cloaking, Empath, Teleportation, Transmutation. Could you briefly explain each one? Is there one Virtue that is meant to be more powerful than the others? Which one would you most like to possess?

Ondines with Clairvoyance have visions of the future and provide prophecies that guide the policies of the water elemental government.

The Virtue of Empath allows an ondine to sense the emotions of living beings (humans, water elementals) nearby.

The Cloaking Virtue deals with disguise. Cloakers are responsible for creating the Mist around ondine communities that prevent discovery by humans. The best Cloakers also work with their mate as Warden Pairs, re-enforcing the magical wards around an ondine community that keeps the Aquidae and other dark creatures out.

The Healing Virtue has the power to manipulate the water in bodies on the cellular level, allowing the users to shift molecules around and repair any damage.

Each book in the series delves further into each of these Virtues. Whirl explores Clairvoyance, Empath, Healing, and Cloaking. I don’t want to post spoilers for the following books in the series, so I won’t get into the other Virtues at this point. ;)

I do believe Empath is the noblest of these eight Virtues and there is a reason why I gave it to the heroine of my story. The capacity to understand how someone else feels, no matter how different they may be from yourself, is perhaps the best part of what humanity has to offer.

That being said, I would not like to possess the Virtue of Empath because I wouldn’t be strong enough to handle the disadvantages of it (always being able to sense someone else’s emotions is not exactly a pleasant thing). So if I were to select one to possess, it’d probably be Healing.

The Virtue of Empath absolutely fascinates me, but I, too, don't think I'd be able to fully handle the ability. I can't wait to learn more about the other Virtues!

If Whirl were to be made into a movie, who would be your dream cast for the main characters?

This is difficult! No matter who I select, it will never match up to what readers have in mind as they read the story. Also, if I had a real choice, I would rather cast actors who could convincingly portray certain personality/emotional traits of my character and not cast them based on looks.

So, please bear in mind that my answers to this are based on looks alone, and that my image of my characters may not be the same to all readers!

- Kendra: Lily Collins, with lighter, honey brown hair.
- Chloe: Elle Fanning
- Aubrey: Emma Stone (with short hair)
- Tristan: Ben Barnes (but more bulked up)
- Julian: Ian Somerhalder
- Ryder: Alex Pettyfer
- Marcella: Marion Cotillard
- Gabriel: Mehcad Brooks
- Naida: Jodie Foster
- Rhian: Helen Mirren

I love this casting. While reading, I imagined Ian Somerhalder as Julian too! Although in my head, Tristan looked like Jared Padalecki ;)

As a chick, I love strong, capable, kick butt female characters; characters like your Kendra. Do you have a favorite female character (from any book) that exudes these qualities?

Certainly one of the most memorable characters, at least in recent years, was Katniss from The Hunger Games. Her difficult journey throughout that trilogy displayed her strength on so many levels.

But strong, capable females are not only limited to heroines like Katniss, who are survivors in the purest sense of the word. For example, one of my favorite female literary characters of all time is Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. She is the epitome of strength and intelligence, a girl who grows and changes from being a know-it-all to a brave, compassionate, and bold character who sacrifices a great deal to support her friends and do what she believes is right.

I couldn't agree more! Hermione is my all time favorite character for many of the reasons you stated.

One of things I love best about books is all the different worlds found within them.  I will always hope that every owl I see is carrying my Hogwarts letter and I will knock on the back of every wardrobe looking for Narnia. What fantasy or made up world would you love to be real?

Hogwarts and the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Hands down. Who wouldn’t want to have butterbeer? :)

Perfect answer! Wanna be my roomie at Hogwarts?! And I happen to have a great recipe for Butterbeer :D

Who is your favorite literary villain? Who do you love to hate or hate to love?

My favorite literary villain would have to be Jack Torrance from Stephen King’s The Shining. He frightened me (and still does) more than anything I’d ever read before because his “evilness” comes from within himself. I think this kind of literary villain is always the most powerful - those whose own darkness rises up to overpower them. Harry Potter’s Voldemort is also an example of this.

Great and scary villain choice!

What is the one book that you think everyone should read at least once in their life? Why?

Argh! Choosing one book would be too difficult- there are so many I love! I’ll have to go with two books (sorry!).

For adults, I would choose Beloved by Toni Morrison. Morrison has one of the most mesmerizing and powerful voices I’ve ever come across.

For children and young teens (well, really any age), it would have to be the Harry Potter series. It would be such a shame to not experience that kind of magic at least once in your life.

You are forgiven ;) These are great choices! Toni Morrison is an amazing writer and the Harry Potter series is the one series that I too would recommend to EVERYONE.
I want to thank Emma Raveling for taking the time to answer my questions and giving us all the opportunity to get to know her and her work a little better. 

I also want to thank Emma for generously offering 1 ebook copy of Whirl to one of you. To enter to win, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below. And be sure to stop by all the other blog stops on this tour.

***For some reason Rafflecopter keeps messing up the forms on my blog, so to enter please simply leave a comment with your name and email address. 

For extra entries you can Tweet (include @wordspelunker and a direct link), Facebook, blog, etc about this giveaway daily. Just leave a link in the comments.

Giveaway ends Oct. 18 at 11:59pm

If you have already entered this giveaway with Rafflecopter, don't worry I have your info. and entries saved!

-Winners will be emailed and must reply within 48 hours or new winners will be chosen
-Winners will be chosen randomly



Emma said...

Thank you for such a well-written and thoughtful review! I'm so glad you enjoyed Whirl. And thank you so much for having me here and allowing me to answer such great questions!

In Julie's Opinion said...

Wow! What a terrific review! I hadn't heard of this before I read your review, but now it's at the top of my must-read list!! Thanks so much for such an awesome review and giveaway:)

Linda: Book Ninja said...

Wow! I realy want to read this now!
Hogwarts would definitely be totally awesome in real life!

lindadao2060 at yahoo dot com

In Julie's Opinion said...

Awesome review and giveaway!! I hadn't heard of this book before but after reading your review and this interview, I definitely want to read it!! Thanks for the giveaway:)

jwitt33 at live dot com

Kathy Habel said...

Thank you for the chance to win this book! ---bkhabel-at-gmail-dot-com---