A #WyrdAndWonder Wednesday Book Review | “The Living Waters” (Book One: Weirdwater Confluence series) by Dan Fitzgerald

Posted Wednesday, 21 September, 2022 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonderWednesday graphic made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: Originally, I received this novel “The Living Waters” via a blog tour hosted by Storytellers on Tour which is now a closed blog touring company as they left our bookish community at the conclusion of 2021. This author and duology was my last chance to host for them and it was a pleasure of joy discovering stories, authors and worlds within their catalogue of blog tours. Let me share a bit of the backstory about how I found them and when they entered my bookish life:

During my 3rd Year of co-hosting @WyrdAndWonder, I was able to participate on my first blog tour with Storytellers on Tour which was featuring the author Brianna Sugalski on her “Disenchanted” blog tour. What I appreciated about Storytellers on Tour was their dedication to Indie Authors of Speculative Literature (whether they were independently published, self-published or sought hybrid publishing options) and their ability to have found authors who were telling stories in Fantasy which intrigued me to read. Fantasy has been a challenging genre for me to explore even a bit moreso than Science Fiction – which was why I felt blessed to be on their blogger team. Whilst some of their tours I sought out a book to consider for review, I actively enjoyed hosting creative content using book photography and/or featuring their authors in conversation (ie. interviews) or giving them the breadth of joy to write a guest post based on a topic of my choosing. Overall, Storytellers on Tour were dedicated to creating community and for championing those of us who are choosing to share our readerly lives each day we bring content to our book blogs. 

Thereby, I received a complimentary copy of “The Living Waters” direct from the author Dan Fitzgerald in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Please note: this is an extended review and discussion about the first half of the duology for the Weirdwater Confluence series which originally began on “The Living Waters” blog tour in November and December, 2021.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

You won’t be surprised I’ve decided to join my first #SelfPubFanMonth this September, if you’ve been following along with my #WWWWeds posts! As I’ve announced my participation this past week. As I am re-approaching how I read and blog this Autumn, you’ll see that I’m taking the lighter load approach each week – whilst being mindful that if I cannot get to all the stories I want to be reading, just making progress into the stories is my new normal right now.

However, I need to clarify that this particular duology and release by Mr Fitzgerald is NOT a work of self-publication. Usually, I am the one to verify those kinds of details and this particular week, I thought I had double-checked myself before I wrote my #WWWeds post — however, to err is human as the saying goes and I’ve already amended my #WWWeds post to reflect the error as well as apologising to the author directly for mentioning this was self-published when in effect it wasn’t – as it was published via Shadow Spark Publishing.

I can announce other works which will be published by Fitzgerald will be self-published which made me feel a bit better as I moved into re-reading this story during #SelfPubFanMonth as you could consider this highlighting of what is coming next from him as a writer and as a published author.

I knew I wanted to re-connect to “The Living Waters” and this month felt like the right timing to do that as it is a duology which I first learnt about whilst hosting for Storytellers on Tour. I’ve been celebrating Indies & Self-Published authors since I first started book blogging in [2013] as nearly all my most beloved reads in #SpecFic are from those two categories of writers. Continuing to find new ways to send out a signal flare of joy on their behalf is something I am always happy to root out! Thereby, as I try to read as much as I can during #WyrdAndWonder (annually in May) and by extension during #SpooktasticReads (annually in October) — it is now with a bit of joy to finally join the community of Self Pub Fantasy Month which will be seen in other posts which populate onto my blog this September. And, no, I haven’t forgotten about #Mythothon and hope to bring some Mythological stories into my readerly queue as well.

After making my faux pas in claiming this duology was self-published, I decided to feature it during a showcasing of reviews during a newly designated heading of #WyrdAndWonder Wednesday wherein I will be sharing fantastical reads betwixt and between @WyrdAndWonder. It will give me a chance to read more Fantasy each year and during the months I find myself particularly drawn into a story of Fantasy outside of the month of May, I can celebrate finding it whilst helping new Fantasy nerds to find out about the event! Let’s all continue to #EnterTheFantastic, together.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Before I share my fuller ruminations – these were the thoughts I had whilst I concluded my previewing of the novel during the original blog tour in (2021):

It will be interesting to see what becomes of their time together – what they discover about themselves as individuals but also what personal growth is meant to be undertaken as well. I had a feeling that despite the fact they were both put together on this journey, they each had a different path to follow afterwards or at least, perhaps they both had a different destiny to put it that way instead!? I wasn’t entirely convinced they were meant to be together in the traditional sense because I felt this was one journey which would encourage self-awakening discoveries. And, of course the artwork eludes to another conclusion altogether, too!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A #WyrdAndWonder Wednesday Book Review | “The Living Waters” (Book One: Weirdwater Confluence series) by Dan FitzgeraldThe Living Waters
Subtitle: Weirdwater Confluence : Book 1
by Dan Fitzgerald
Source: Author via Storytellers on Tour

When two painted-faced nobles take a guided raft trip on a muddy river, they expect to rough it for a few weeks before returning to their life of sheltered ease. But when mysterious swirls start appearing in the water, even their seasoned guides get rattled.

The mystery of the swirls lures them on to seek the mythical wetlands known as the Living Waters. They discover a world beyond their imagining, but stranger still are the worlds they find inside their own minds as they are drawn deep into the troubles of this hidden place.
The Living Waters is a sword-free fantasy novel featuring an ethereal love story, meditation magic, and an ancient book with cryptic marginalia.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Portal Fantasy, Fantasy Romance

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8493260940

Also by this author: The Living Waters (#25PagePreview)

Published by Shadow Spark Publishing

on 9th October, 2021

Format: Paperback Edition

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Weirdwater Confluence series:

Artwork from The Living Waters novel by Dan Fitzgerald featuring Gilea and Temi. Provided by Storytellers on Tour and is used with permission of the author Dan Fitzgerald.
Artwork from The Living Waters novel by Dan Fitzgerald
featuring Gilea and Temi.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

a duology featuring:

The Living Waters by Dan FitzgeraldThe Isle of a Thousand Worlds by Dan Fitzgerald

The Living Waters (Book One)

& The Isle of a Thousand Worlds (Book Two)

An aging alchemist seeks the key to the Universal Tincture said to unlock the Thousand Worlds of the mind, but she never expected to solve the riddle of her hermetic heart.

A meditation acolyte travels the mystical social media known as the Caravan and finds that the Thousand Worlds lie just below the surface, if she can only learn to see the space between the stars.

This steamy romantic fantasy explores the confluence of the physical and the metaphysical through the commingling of bodies and minds.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

NOTE: It is independent from the Maer Cycle trilogy, but there are a few points of contact, and both are part of a planned larger universe called the Copper Circle, which will include a trilogy called the Time Before, set 2,000 years before the Maer Cycle. Found this sidenote about the duology from the author’s website and felt it was relevant to share in case others are keen on reading serial fiction with the foreknowledge of how different duologies, trilogies and universes in an author’s collective works interconnect.

Published by: Shadow Spark Publishing (@ShadowSparkPub)

Converse via: #Fantasy, #SpeculativeFiction and #FantasyRomance
as well as #WeirdWaterConfluence & #EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

About Dan Fitzgerald

Dan Fitzgerald

Dan Fitzgerald is the fantasy author of the Maer Cycle trilogy (character-driven low-magic fantasy) and the upcoming Weirdwater Confluence duology (sword-free fantasy with unusual love stories). The Living Waters comes out October 15, 2021 and The Isle of a Thousand Worlds arrives January 15, 2022, both from Shadow Spark Publishing.

He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When not writing he might be found doing yoga, gardening, cooking, or listening to French music.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

My Review of : The Living Waters by Dan Fitzgerald

This is such a curiously written world by Fitzgerald – as part of the background of his worldbuilding is the concept of painted faces. Wherein all persons (male or female) do not emerge outside without their faces properly painted. I am uncertain as to what started the tradition though at one point, the lead character’s Mum mentioned it might have something to do with the sunlight and offering protection against its strong rays. In that regard, it would be an interesting twist on protection from sunlight as compared to otherworlds and our own.

What struck me the most though initially is how this world is set against a society which values self-learning and the artfulness of scholarship. Sylvan is about to undertake quite the journey – wherein he’ll be exploring a river and that takes him out of his own comfort zones but not without the hopefulness of what he will discover as he takes on the adventure of seeking what is not yet known. You could feel his enthused reaction to the quest and the hesitation of his brother Artemis who is not as adventurous as Sylvan. Yet it was their mother who provided the best surprise as the mysterious book centred in the story was gifted to Sylvan before he undertook the journey, and it was that particular book which I felt held both clues and disclosures of truth that perhaps no one in this family was ready to find revealled. In that, my attention was fully grasped.

Temi was determined to shake free of the lock hold her family had on her as I noted their adversities in life seemed to be hinged against whether or not she would marry well or choose a path in life that would be both worthwhile to substantiate the wealth of the family against any happiness she might choose to seek out for herself. You could understand why she wanted to take an adventure and see if there were a secondary path she could opt for instead – one where her fate remained her own choosing and where the difficulties of home could either work themselves out or find another solution elsewhere which was not co-dependent on her own life and the choices, she wanted to make for herself therein.

And, yet just after glimpsing sight of Temi, Fitzgerald introduced us to Gilea whose a woman of her own destiny – that much is readily noted and seen due to how she carries herself along with her bold self-confidence which I believe might not be quite the norm in a society dictated by rules, decorum and tradition such as this one wherein Sylvan and Temi find themselves restricted. Gilea didn’t reveal as much about herself as Sylvan and Temi had of themselves as I had a sense Gilea was far more guarded and weathered by life than the others. She had seen more than them and she had lived a harder life than them as well. Yet, part of me wondered what other secrets she might be holding back – not just about herself but of what this particular adventure truly involved.

Part of the tradition of this journey Sylvan and Temi were undertaking is that they each had to contribute manual labour to the construction of the boat they would be navigating downriver. That in of itself was a bit of an interesting twist because neither of them seemed to be very outdoorsy to me in the beginning – in fact, I think part of this journey was meant to challenge the person to be more than they were when they first started and/or to test them in a way that could not be accomplished in another capacity. Both of them became fast friends and companions with each other but that spoke of the ease in which they both had a bit of their own self-confidences to depart to others even though I felt of the two of them, Sylvan knew more about what he wanted out of life than Temi knew of her own heart’s desires.

Leo was the Captain during this roughabout – a weathered bloke who knew the river well but had an odd sense of duty about his role as well. He wasn’t easily convinced of dangers yet unseen as Gilea was herself, but he also was quite hearty and capable of life on the river, too. He was a quirky character in some respects as he’d much prefer to live away from people and to travel the river wherever it would take him vs having to be landlocked in one singular place. You could respect that because sometimes it is hard to stay in one location without travel as everything can become a bit too consistently complacent.

As they started to make their way down the river, you could tell Gilea was holding back information about the journey as much as Leo was eagerly anxious to find the swirls which captured his attention the most. The swirls themselves were curiously moving side by side and around them – as the swirls followed the river or they were connected to the river in a way that was not yet disclosed. What was interesting to me is how Gilea seemed to know more about the swirls than everyone else and yet, she was cleverly keeping quiet about them and about why their presence on the river might be increasingly more prolific. This wasn’t a pleasure cruise by any means, as Sylvan and Temi found out quite quickly as they were expected to do the hard labour and to keep their work ethic strong throughout the journey itself. They were not as accustomed to the conditions of the river tough except that I felt Temi had a bit of an edge over Sylvan as she led a far different life than he did back home. Temi by most respects was more adaptable and went with the flow of events.

I enjoyed the encounters with the people who lived by the river — from the father and son, who were still missing the absence of their Mum and wife but still brewed her favourite tea. To the two brothers – one of whom had been to the living waters and had met the mysteriously tall men. It helped anchour you to this world to see past the river and the people aboard the raft as their points-of-view were more limited in scope to what they had done in their own lives rather than to see the wider view of the world in which they lived. It felt strange that in this world people were more constricted in movement – as there was protocol of how one could travel and, in some areas, even within a city their movements were equally constricted and tracked. The most freedom I felt Sylvan and Temi had experienced thus far along were on the river itself.

As the story expanded into the Living Waters section of the story, things turnt a bit more interesting as the people there had a very complex society. There was an insurrection in progress at the time of their arrival and there was a very difficult choice to be made in order to keep the peace and to keep innocents from being attacked. This was in part handled by the intervention and intervening actions of Sylvan, Temi, Gilea and Leo being present in the Living Waters. Merk and Sadie were a step removed from their society – as they were part of the movement to accept more than what they were aware of in their own society and to be more advocational towards others who were not like them. These passages were drawn out and at times a bit harder to read due to the evolving events which were affecting the Living Waters overall.

What I found more interesting was the communication methods Fitgerald knitted into the backbone of the Living Waters section as a lot of it dealt with telepathy and mediation. The ways in which Merk, Sadie and the characters interacted with each other was most fascinating but also with the Pillar, too. Which I took as one of the more ancient and wise persons of the Living Waters – an entity built round love, peace and healing. Though not all of the Living Waters were benign and genuinely open to outsiders as their section of this world is more of a hidden sanctuary than a place that is meant to be found and seen by every generation of travellers or outsiders. I definitely enjoyed staying alongside these characters and getting a glimpse of insight into how they lived and how they perceived the greater world at large.

I was a bit surprised in the choice Temi made at the end of her roughabout as it seemed to be opposite of her choice during her journey. Part of her story for me felt disappointing because I thought for sure she was going to head off in a different direction. Sylvan had a better conclusion to his character’s journey because he finally found himself amongst likeminded peers who could help him achieve more knowledge and gain more traction in his field of choice. He truly had a lot to give and to accomplish in the sciences he was studying and developing new knowledge about through his observations and experiences. I felt Sylvan gained more through the roughabout and partially that was due to his level of curiosity as a life sciences scholar.

Gilea seemed to have had a harder ending to the roughabout than others in the past – wherein, she was starting to realise she needed to resume her own course of exploration into her personal studies of mediation. In her society, if you undertook that kind of journey, you were able to achieve a higher level of awareness and there were more opportunities for you. I was mildly disappointed by how Temi and Gilea had to separate and go forward alone. There were moments during their time in the Living Waters wherein I felt they were growing closer and more connected to each other; though not necessarily romantically but still, there was a bond between them that could not be denied. Although part of me realised at the conclusion of the final chapter, Gilea’s storyline at that moment was the basis of what was going to become explored in the sequel The Isle of a Thousand Worlds.

Overall, I felt the story was a bit too slow moving for me as a reader as until we reached the Living Waters section of the novel, I felt myself waxing interest in different intervals. I also felt a bit let-down by the ending chapters of the story as I felt what I perceived of where the characters were going forward next was altered somewhere along the way. This kind of narrative is harder for me as a reader because the transitions and changes are extended out through a very slow-moving arc of story. I was thankful to see Temi was keeping art in her life but again, how her story concluded was part of my disappointments at the end.

Note on Content: Nudity

There are quite a few scenes which involve nudity, but they are handled well by Fitzgerald. One of the more curious characters who finds a way to disrobe the most was Leo who had a penchant for swimming in the nude whenever the mood struck him to swim. You had to smile how Fitzgerald chose to highlight those scenes and how he described them as well.

Small Fly in the Ointment:

I only wish the font and the size of the font used for the marginalia notes in the book Sylvan was reading was easier on the eyes as the main font and size used for the novel itself. The font instead was squished a bit together and harder to discern as you were reading – at least for me. I had to go by Sylvan’s own thoughts and reactions after those inclusions rather than reading them myself. I also wasn’t exactly interested in knowing exactly how Sylvan had to kill a river rat – as hunting isn’t something I was interested in knowing the exact bits about or reading an overly descriptive scene about taking an animal’s life for food.

I was a bit confused why there were a few sprinkles of stronger language within the context of the story as well. The flow and pacing (albeit slower than usual) were fine without their inclusion and honestly with them inclusive it didn’t add anything to the story or the characters in my opinion. I felt the story could have staid absent of strong language and have been a more enjoyable read.

On the Speculative and Fantastical writing styling of Dan Fitzgerald:

Fitzgerald is quite the subtle writer – he doesn’t envelope you in the Speculative and Fantastical elements of his story and series straight-away but rather prefers to introduce you to his lead characters and allow you to get your bearings within his world. It is a refreshing spin on how Fantasy duologies and series are generally begun and of course, in recent years, I’ve come to enjoy Low Fantasy novels which equally have their own unique tempo of revelations. To me, this felt a bit Low Fantasy in the beginning, but it was too early-on to know if it would maintain that effect as I felt this was more of a story which brokered itself somewhere befitting a Portal Fantasy & a Fantasy Romance with Speculative undertones which were nearly fitting of a Magical Realism plotting. Time would tell of course if that first impression will hold true until the end.

Some of the moments on the river pass by very slowly – as Fitzgerald has a slower pacing to his storytelling to where you have to remain patient to see what is going to become revealled. I thought perhaps the pacing might have picked up a bit once they began their journey onto the river itself, but time moved very slowly within the story. He also tempts the reader to question the ‘swirls’ in the river and the larger presence of why they were constantly close to the crew of the roughabout as it seemed to foreshadow other parts of the story which were just out of sight. And, of course the truth about those ‘swirls’ is a bit harder to process than you might realise in the beginning.

Despite the fact Fitzgerald foreshadowed a lot of the story early-on as the travellers made their way along the river, I was left with more questions than answers by the time I finished the story. I was fascinated by how he described the aquaculture in the story though – how he came up with the different varieties of fish and how the creatures of the river were very much a lasting presence in the story itself. From a scientific perspective he had a keen eye on introducing those kinds of concepts into the threads of this narrative and that was something to cherish. I also liked how he mentioned the art and concept of self-study and independent study into the storyline as well which applied to more than one character.

This is definitely a Speculative Fantasy story writ for those readers who shy away from the more violent storylines which are more popular and I for one was grateful the violence in the story was downgraded from the usual levels. I’m not one who enjoys overtly violent stories of any genre and that was a welcome grace in The Living Waters. It would serve better readers who want to take the slower route towards the conclusion and to have a more speculative foundation rather than traditional Fantasy arc as well.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This extended review continues my
participation on the blog tour
which was courtesy of:

The Living Waters blog tour banner provided by Storytellers on Tour and is used with permission.My original post for the blog tour can be viewed here.

as it marked my final tour for hosting with:

Storytellers on Tour host badge provided by Storytellers on Tour and is used with permission.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com
#EnterTheFantastic banner created by Jorie in Canva.
Before you leave, be sure to remember @WyrdAndWonder returns this
October for #SpooktasticReads – a 13 day mini-event! Follow us on Twitter
& Instagram for further updates and information
– Let’s get our spook on together, shall we?
Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com
I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Be sure to leave notes, takeaways and commentary about this story as well as your thoughts about duologies vs one-offs and trilogies. I’d be keenly interested to know what you’re currently reading by either an Indie Publisher and/or a Self-Pub author right now as well. All genres interest me (for the most part, a few do not) and thereby, leave your comments below if you’re a regular reader of both Indies & Self-Pub novelists. Especially if you’ve already read this story and/or the sequel as well.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

{SOURCES: Book cover for “The Living Waters” and “The Isle of a Thousand Worlds”, book synopsis, author biography, artwork featuring Gilea and Temi, the tour banner and Roadie badge were all provided by Storytellers on Tour and are used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #WyrdAndWonder Wednesday graphic, #EntertheFantastic banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2022.

I’m a social reader | I tweet my reading life

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #EnterTheFantastic
  • #WyrdAndWonder Wednesday
  • 2022 Backlogue Reviews

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

read more >> | Visit my Story Vault of Book Reviews | Policies & Review Requests | Contact Jorie


Posted Wednesday, 21 September, 2022 by jorielov in Aquaculture, Book Review (non-blog tour), Content Note, Eco-Fantasy, Ecology, Environmental Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, Portal Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Storytellers on Tour, Vulgarity in Literature

All posts on my blog are open to new comments & commentary!
I try to visit your blog in return as I believe in ‘Bloggers Commenting Back
(which originated as a community via Readers Wonderland).

Comments are moderated. Once your comment is approved for the first time, your comments thereafter will be recognised and automatically approved. All comments are reviewed and continue to be moderated after automated approval. By using the comment form you are consenting with the storage and handling of your personal data by this website.

Once you use the comment form, if your comment receives a reply (this only applies to those who leave comments by email), there is a courtesy notification set to send you a reply ticket. It is at your discretion if you want to return to re-respond and/or to continue the conversation established. This is a courtesy for commenters to know when their comments have been replied by either the blog's owner or a visitor to the blog who wanted to add to the conversation. Your email address is hidden and never shared. Read my Privacy Policy.

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)