Whisper Falls by Elizabeth Langston
Source: Review copy thanks to the publisher and Netgalley
Synopsis from Goodreads:
While training for a mountain bike race, high-school senior Mark Lewis spots a mysterious girl dressed in odd clothing, standing behind a waterfall in the woods near his North Carolina home. When she comments on the strange machine that he rides, he suspects something isn’t right. When Susanna claims to be an indentured servant from 1796, he wonders if she's crazy. Yet he feels compelled to find out more.
Mark enters a ‘long-distance’ relationship with Susanna through the shimmering--and temperamental--barrier of Whisper Falls. Curious about her world, Mark combs through history to learn about the brutal life she's trapped in. But knowledge can be dangerous. Soon he must choose between the risk of changing history or dooming the girl he can't stop thinking about to a lifetime of misery.
Whisper Falls is exactly the kind of book that can be summed up by the picture on the cover. It looks like what is- a love story about a Seventeenth Century maid and a modern day guy meeting through the power of a magical waterfall. I loved the sound of it when I first heard about it and it was on my wishlist to read. I was pretty excited to be able to read it, so went into expecting a nice, romantic read with lots of history and a clash of cultures.
The story is told from the two points of view of the two main characters- Susannah, an indentured servant, who is pretty badly mis-treated by a cruel and cold master- and Mark, an 18 year old mountain bike enthusiast from the 21st century. I enjoyed the switch in tone between these two, and seeing their worlds in the alternating chapters throughout the book.
As a character on her own and in her own world I like Susannah a lot. She is very caring and hard-working, she hides forbidden books to read in secret, and she adores the little children that she cares for and is great with them. She is good, sweet, and smart, and in her place and in the chapters told from her point of view I had no problem with her.
But when we see her from Mark's chapters she annoyed me. The way she speaks to him comes across as very curt and prissy. I don't know if that is just perspective and that if we met someone from that time period now they would sound the same to us- but when she was talking to Mark she bugged me.
When they meet there is the inevitable clash of cultures, the language has changed over time- slang words for instance, and the style of dress obviously. But something about the other one resonates with the other. They can talk to each other and they just click. Susannah shares her story and you can't help but feel for her and root for a happy ending for her. Mark becomes very sweet and self-sacrificing to try to help her out as a friend. I enjoyed hating the nasty master Mr Pratt, and hoping he would get his come-uppance!
Overall Whisper Falls is a little bit of a corny predictable read (I don't think it's a spoiler to say that they end up falling in love), but it's also a nice, light, easy read (with a few dark bits that give it an added punch). There is plenty of historical information, romance and drama. It was a fun story and I really enjoyed it. I liked the conclusion of the story, and it could easily end at that point- but it has left me wondering (I suppose as any good book with characters that get under your skin does)- "so what happens to them next"?