Illustration © Jim Kay.
Ephraim Appledore-Smith and his family have retreated from the world at large to a long-empty family mansion called the Water Castle because it was built with money from the family’s natural spring water business — think Poland Springs — though that business is long defunct. Ephraim’s father has had a stroke, and his mother hopes that the Water Castle might be a good place for him to recover. Ephraim and his siblings have a lot to deal with; not only their father’s illness but changing schools and adjusting to life in a very small town where their family is infamous. Mallory Green is a girl whose own family has long been the caretakers of the Water Castle, and Will Wylie’s family has been at odds with Ephraim’s for decades, so when the three of them are drawn together by a mutual desire to find out the secrets of the Water Castle, everyone is surprised, even them. Turns out the mansion and its grounds do hold lots of secrets, and maybe even the fabled fountain of youth. Could that be the cure Ephraim desperately wants for his father?
This is a great read combining a puzzle mystery (lots of puzzles) with well-developed and believable characters, some science, maybe a little magic, and many exciting discoveries and adventures. It doesn’t shy away from real world problems and difficult relationships, nor does it allow them to spoil the thrill of the chase. In all, an excellent book.