Penni Russon is a freelance editor with a special interest in books for children and teenagers. She studied Children's Literature at Monash University and then Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT. Penni began her writing life as a poet, and UNDINE and BREATHE are her first novels. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and two children. http://www.pennirusson.com
Australian author Russon's supernatural thriller succeeds thanks to an engrossing, off-kilter mystery and a cast of adolescent characters rendered through pitch-perfect dialogue. Sixteen-year-old Undine begins to have bad feelings, the kind she hasn't had since her beloved stepfather was killed in an accident almost four years prior. She had premonitions before that tragedy, and now she is feeling uneasy again-and begins hearing a voice telling her, "It's time to come home." A stanza from The Tempest, written on a paper bearing her name as its watermark, ends up on her doorstep, and she and her best friend, Trout, become convinced that her father (whom she had been told died before she was born) is alive and reaching out to her. Undine sets off to find him, leading to an intelligent and thoughtful showdown of sorts between the heroine and her parents, both of whom harbor deep secrets. The narrative gets a bit too clever in places (her father, who sent her the Shakespeare verse, is named Prospero Marine) but the atmosphere is involving. Undine and Trout, two-thirds of a romantic triangle, make a compelling and believable pair, grappling with the equally daunting burdens of newfound magical ability and of ordinary high school. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 7 Up-Undine isn't your ordinary teenage girl. She doesn't like Tuesdays, has a best friend named Trout, and can cause storms to form out of thin air. She comes from a tight-knit family that includes her mother, brother, and aunt. She has always been told that her father died before she was born but a mysterious whispering voice convinces her that he is still alive. Trout, thanks to his love of Shakespeare, links the words that the voice is speaking with The Tempest. After the book itself appears in her house, Undine figures out where the voice is calling from and goes to meet her father. Teens will empathize with this girl who has magical powers that she can't control and a desire for a father who loves her for herself, not the powers she possesses or what he can gain from them. The strength of Russon's writing and the intensity of the story itself will draw readers to Undine, but they will also find some familiar themes, such as unrequited love, reflected in her best friend, Trout. Australia creates an interesting backdrop and readers will enjoy some of the unfamiliar slang. This novel offers readers a new and interesting magical twist as well as a surprise ending.-June H. Keuhn, Corning East High School, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.