Ten years ago, something bad happened to Tomas in Slovakia. Something he doesn’t quite remember, but that left horrible burns on his body and prompted his parents to move the family to America. But a house fire leaves the family in a poor financial situation and they move back to Slovakia with Tomas, now 16, who sees things that could not, should not be. Tomas is a reclusive American boy, who wants nothing more than to watch his movies. He is not at all prepared for fire vilas, water demons, or the prejudice against his own Roma heritage.
But none of that is willing to leave him alone. Least of all Death herself who offers him a bargain he cannot help but take.
Vodnik is an excellent read for those who are looking for fantasy with a spark of something new. I had a lot of fun reading a mythology less common than the usual fantasy/urban fantasy fare, and that newness made up for the slight pacing and predictability issues that snuck in and out of the chapters. Tomas is a reluctant hero that many a young reader will be able to relate to- and he deals with some hard issues like racial prejudice and bullying that are important for folks to read and think about. It is a book about growing up, as many young adult books are, but it avoids being preachy and remains pleasant. It is a book about family and love and everything that draws one person to another.
If you are looking for an enjoyable read, give Vodnik a shot. You won’t look at a tea cup the same way again.