Completed 10/25/2015, Reviewed 11/3/2015
The premise of the book is really interesting. I was excited to get it. It’s short, so I expected it to have tight prose. Noria is training to be a tea master, following in the footsteps of her father. They live in a world dominated by China, which tries to control all aspects of their lives, including water. Global warming has made fresh water scarce, but the tea masters know of hidden springs whose waters create the best tea. When Noria’s father dies, she carries the secret of springs, trying to safeguard them from the authorities. Of course, secrets are hard to keep.
The biggest problem with the book is that nothing happens. Noira becomes a tea master, her father dies, and the secret gets out. There’s nothing more to the story. There’s a lot of description of the tea ceremonies and a lot of tension over the secret spring. But really, I spent the whole book rather bored by it all, waiting for the secret to get out and see what the ramifications were.
The prose isn’t bad. The author is Finnish and the book was published in Finnish before being translated into English. I don’t think that had any bearing on the book. It would have been pretty but boring in Finnish as well. The book has been nominated for several awards, but my sense is that the premise carried most readers, whereas for me it wasn’t enough. I like good prose, but there has to be more than nice descriptions to get me through a book, even a short one.
I give this book three out of five stars. I’m giving the book the benefit of the doubt because of the prose and the premise.