Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

13 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: 5 stars, Historical

Click the cover to purchase at Amazon

Book: Waterfall
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Publisher: David C. Cook
Release date: February 1, 2011
Source: Borrowed from Writer Musings
Series: River of Time #1

Summary: (from Goodreads) In Waterfall, American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidently finds herself in sixteenth-century Italy . . . Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties. Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds… until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the sixteenth-centuryâ??and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.

First impressions: I actually read the first chapter, put the book down, and thought about not picking it up again. But if I have any advice it is this: KEEP READING! It doesn’t take long for the story to zoom off, whether or not you’re buckled in for the ride. Once I picked it up again, you practically had to pry this book from my clenched fingers.

Lasting impressions: Disgustingly good. Lisa Bergren is a diabolical plot genius who will keep you fully immersed in this world, despite bedtimes, homework, jobs, or significant others.

Conflicting impressions: For me, the opening chapters with the girls in the present time weren’t as engaging as the rest of the novel. For some reason, I just didn’t connect with that material as well, and felt I got more backstory than I really needed.

Overall impressions: If you’re not already loading this one into your online shopping carts, you haven’t been paying attention. This story has it all: adventure, suspense, romance, and mystery. It will keep you guessing, and keep your heart in your throat.

Gabi is a wonderful protagonist. She is thrust back through the centuries, uncertain if her sister is there with her, and winds up smack in the middle of an ongoing Italian turf war. Despite political, physical, and emotional hurdles, she uses her brain to make the best of her unexpected situation. Even though she doesn’t know who she can trust, she outmaneuvers everyone to put together a daring plan to rescue her sister.

I am a sucker for time travel books, mostly because it is a personal fantasy of mine. In the hands of an excellent researcher, that wish nearly comes true. I can always tell when a historical novelist really knows their stuff, and Bergren does not disappoint. Everything about the world rings true, which only sucked me deeper into the story. I melted into Gabi’s castle life with ease, and every room, road and character was brought vividly to life.

And oh, the characters! A flirtatious sidekick, a mothering cook, a sickly heir, a mean girl. It would be so easy to write the caricature and be done with it, but Bergren doesn’t do easy. She writes complicated, deep characters that read like actual humans faced with difficult circumstances. Each of these types becomes so much more, surprising our expectations and threatening our snap judgments.

Above all, this story has heart. Gabi will stop at nothing to find and save her sister, yet just when she thinks she is ready to leave, the beautiful Marcello gives her pause. It is a testament to Bergren’s gift that we can simultaneously want Gabi to leave and to stay. Her choice is difficult because we see the good Gabi can bring, and the love that can be her reward. Yet she struggles to cement her own fate one way or the other. It is the ultimate impasse, and completely riveting.

To me this book was like Outlander for teens. No lust. No sex. But a courageous, stubborn, time-traveling heroine who discovers more about herself in the past than in the present? Oh yes. That, and so much more.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Not enough gushing for you? Want to see even more high praise for this amazing book? Check out Small Review’s take and see if you can resist this book after that!

Need it now? Check out this interview with Lisa Bergren and win a copy of Waterfall at I Am A Reader Not A Writer. Be sure to check back here tomorrow, where I’ll be hosting a giveaway of my own!

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13 Responses to “Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren”

  1. bibliophile brouhaha says:

    Ohhh, I am not normally a cover whore, but there is something about that dark, brooding one that is calling to me. I shall take you advice and add this to the TBR pile, Stat!

  2. Missie says:

    Outlander of teens should sell a lot of people on this. LOL

    I love it when you give a book a second chance then really end up loving it. I gotta admit, I'm all for a protag that uses her brain for once. More that I love well developed main characters, I also love smartly developed secondary. Yep. This one sounds like a winner. Thanks for your review Logan. I hadn't heard of this book before. It is now on my wishlist. 😉

  3. The Lovely Getaway says:

    wow! awesome review! outlander for teens? HECK YES! I will most def be adding this book to my pile!

    ps. time travel has and always will be my favorite fantasy :)haha!

  4. Aylee says:

    I love time travel!! It's been quite a while since I've read a good time travel book actually. I've never read Outlander but I've heard great things so that's quite a high recommendation!

  5. Small Review says:

    AAAHHHHH YES!! I'm so incredibly happy you loved this book! Disgusting good indeed. I can't think about it without smiling this really goofy grin. 😛 I'll be posting my review tomorrow with a lot of gushing and fangirly squee-ing!

  6. The Norwegian BookGirl says:

    I love this cover, and after reading your review I must order this. Stories about time travels is one of my favories. Thank you so much for bringing this book to my attention!

  7. Lisa Tawn Bergren says:

    Thank you so much for your generous and kind review, Logan. I'm blown away by your assessment of a "teen OUTLANDER" since that is one of my favorite books from lo, long ago. After writing in a lot of different genres, this feels like a sweet spot for me, combining my love of history with contemporary issues. So glad it touched your heart too. Can't wait to see what you think about CASCADE and TORRENT…which I must return to now…

  8. ChrisS says:

    Wow. Thanks for the review. It looks like a really interesting story I'll have to check out.

  9. Bobbie says:

    I love the story telling that Lisa writes in her books, can't wait to pick this one up and get lost in the plot. Thanks Lisa for your books and being able to get away into another world in them

  10. Logan E. Turner says:

    I'm so glad I can spread some excitement about this book! You all simply must read it asap. Also, sorry about the broken interview link. I have corrected that now.

  11. Katie says:

    This looks like a really good book! I'm really going to read it now! Thanks for the review! And New Follower!!

  12. Lynn says:

    It sounds amazing. Got to go on the WBR pile.

    thanks 🙂

  13. Brodie says:

    Okay, I LOVED and totally agreed with this: "Disgustingly good. Lisa Bergren is a diabolical plot genius who will keep you fully immersed in this world, despite bedtimes, homework, jobs, or significant others. "

    You summed up this book perfectly. I'm sitting here reading it and nodding my head at every sentence, thinking "Yes, yes, yes! Now I want to re-read it!". I hope everyone picks up a copy of this and realises how awesome it is. I can't wait for Cascade!!


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A fan of historical, dystopian, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, mystery, steampunk, and young adult fiction, as well as any book that thinks smartly and imaginatively.

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