The Water Dancer

A Novel

hardcover, 416 pages

English language

Published Sept. 24, 2019 by One World.


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5 stars (1 review)

9 editions

well written, entertaining, educational

5 stars

This is at least 3 books. It is a rousing adventure story with well developed characters, it is a polemic about the evils of slavery, and it is a fantasy novel. Coates is a skilled writer and I spent the first third of the book admiring his use of language. At some point I became immersed in it, and stopped remarking on the cleverness. I was listening to the audiobook, and there are definitely places where call-response spoken word and snatches of song enriched that immersion. The fantasy element is relatively small, if important as a plot device / metaphor. Probably nobody reading this needs to be convinced of the general notion that slavery was (and is) evil, but at least for me, reading this helped me internalize some of the specifics. The hero is "owned" by his white father, the same father who sold his mother into even more …