Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Book Review: Waterfall by Lisa T Bergren

Waterfall (River of Time, #1)
Goodreads description

Lisa Tawn Bergren's new YA series, River of Time, is romantic, historical fiction in which the plucky heroine doesn't have to fear a vampire's bite but must still fight for her life.

In Waterfall, American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidently finds herself in Fourteenth-Century Italy . . . Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties. Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds... until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the Fourteenth Century and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.

My review

When I picked up Waterfall I was really hoping that I would enjoy it as much as some of the other bloggers whose reviews I’ve read but by the time I’d finished, I wanted to announce to the world that everyone should go out and buy it immediately and I couldn’t wait to start recommending it! It has everything that a perfect medieval time travel should have: sword fights, hot Knights, a feisty heroine, castles, pretty dresses,  danger, humour and of course…. a good dose of romance! If you haven’t already guessed, I fell head over heels in love with it and it has earned its place on my favourite’s shelf. I actually put off writing this review for quite a while because I wasn’t sure quite how I could begin to explain what I thought about it…..

The heroine and main character Gabi, who narrates the book is a bold and strong girl who is also kind hearted and fiercely loyal whilst having believable human weaknesses too. Most of the time she has lots of common sense but she also has an impetuous nature so instead of steering away from the danger she faces, she wants to jump right into the action to wield her sword along with the men whilst feeling like a nervous wreck inside. She is the kind of girl who refuses to ride sidesaddle on a horse and is prepared to scale a high castle wall to rescue her sister. This makes the plot a whole lot more adventurous but leads Gabi into a lot of trouble too. Yet even when times got tough, she stuck them out resiliently and was determined to find her sister Lia. I loved having her as narrator because her inner monologue is witty at times and gave a good insight into how she felt travelling unexpectedly back in time.

But where’s a leading lady without her handsome hero? Cue the handsome and chivalrous Knights by her side that are willing to die to protect her. The romance was so adorable and I was cheering for Gabi and her chosen man all the way despite the challenges because they were just born for each other. If there’s any love that can transcend through time, than it’s definitely the one to be found in this book.

There was also whole cast of well written and memorable secondary characters such as Marcello’s flirtatious and easy going cousin Luca, Gabi’s sister Lia who has great talent with a bow and arrow and Marcello’s back stabbing prospective fiancĂ©e Lady Rossi. Their convincing characteristics and differing complex personalities were part of what made the book really come alive for me because I truly cared about what happened to them. I particularly loved the main male characters because they were all such genuinely honest, kind and chivalrous gentlemen who put men of our century to shame.

The plot swept me in with adventure, political intrigue, passion and page turning excitement. I liked how other plot elements weren’t sacrificed because the pages were filled with both suspenseful and heart stopping action as well as great character development and interactions, which is often hard to find together in YA. It was amusing to read how Gabi slowly tried to adjust to being in the fourteen century at the beginning with lots of embarrassing mistakes and enthralling to watch epic fight-to-the-death battles play out in my mind later on.  With so many elements of the plot, it might sound chaotic but it all slots together smoothly and everything comes together really well. 

I’m unsure how accurate the historical detail in the book is, but to me it was a convincing setting and I wouldn’t care if it wasn’t based on truth at all!I’ve loved Italy since my visit there last year, it was really interesting to read about how it might have been centuries ago from Tuscany and Castle Forelli to the political warfare.

Whilst it is classified as Christian fiction, I don’t think this will bother anyone who is not a fan of this genre because the Christian content is minimal and involves Gabi starting to wonder about God and some other short prayers by the people of the time. Don’t let the genre label put you off because it’s hardly noticeable in a historical setting where religion would have played an important part for the people then anyway. For me as a Christian, it was nice to see these elements included but I would have enjoyed Waterfall just as much if they hadn't been there.

Verdict: Waterfall is the kind of book that you can completely lose yourself in and it reminded me of why I love historical fiction so much. It’s the best YA debut I’ve read and I can't wait to get started on the newly released Cascade and the third in the series Torrent when it is released later in the year. I would especially recommend it to fans of historical romance but I think it’s one of those books that fans of every genre will be able to enjoy. Give it a try but be prepared to become addicted!

Rating: 5 stars


  1. Brilliant review! This sounds great! I HATE the cover so I wasn't sure about this book, but now I'm convinced!

  2. @ Cliona Thanks :) That's what reviews are for, right? I'm really glad that that mine's helped you and I hope you get to read it!

  3. Yay!! I never get tired of reading all the glowing reviews for this book. I hope you like Cascade just as much :) I'm so glad this series is being published so quickly because I don't know how I'd make it if we had to wait a whole year between books.

  4. Great to read another glowing review for this one! I don't know why I haven't bought it yet lol

  5. Oh hot knights, sign me up. It sounds a little like the Tortal series by Tamora Pierce. Thanks for the great review I really need to pick this one up. :)

  6. @ Small I love reading reviews where others love a book just as much as you! I don't think I've seen a negative one for Waterfall. I agree about the fast release system- it would be awful if we had to wait. I think they should make the books into films- move over Twilight and Harry Potter ;)

    @Amy You won't regret reading it if you pick it up!

    @Alexa Oh, I haven't heard of that series before. I hope you can get round to it :D

  7. Gosh, such praise! I just ordered this book based on your review. It was on my to-read list already and I was looking for a way to stop feeling sorry for myself for missing the book sale I wanted to go to tonight.. And what better way than buying a book you can get lost in :)

  8. @Daisy I'm so glad to hear that! No one's ever told me that before. I really hope you enjoy it as much as me and that I haven't hyped it up too much. I'm looking forward to seeing what you think :)


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