The final book in Mitchell’s historical trilogy with paranormal overtones (The Springsweet, 2012, etc.).
In Connersville, Ind., young Julian Birch struggles to accept the limitations imposed by his polio-withered leg: Unlike his brothers, he won’t be able to fight in World War I or work the family farm. But Julian has inherited a gift from his parents. Father Emerson can affect earth (how is not precisely clear), and mother Zora calls water. Julian can bring dead insects back to life; he also has visions of a strange girl on the edge of an ocean. Meanwhile, Kate, the bohemian daughter of Amelia (fire elemental) and Nathaniel (air), can stop time—but is much more interested in becoming a filmmaker. Eventually, the two meet in Los Angeles, where they discover exactly how much their gifts cost. The ending of the book is truly compelling. However, it’s a tough road getting there. Readers unfamiliar with the first two books will struggle to understand veiled references to the elementals’ gifts. The menacing character of Caleb/Virgil appears at first with seemingly no reason. Frequent point-of-view shifts and a certain floridness in Mitchell’s prose make it difficult to care about the characters, and uneven pacing means that some characters get far too much page time for their importance to the plot.
The least successful of the three. (Paranormal historical fantasy. 12 & up)