The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric | Teen Ink

The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric MAG

November 21, 2017
By SecretlyAnOwl SILVER, Brooklyn, New York
SecretlyAnOwl SILVER, Brooklyn, New York
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Scalding water bursts from ancient marble wells, once peaceful venues flood with dark water, and sharks race through the canals of 19th-century Venice.

Eleven-year-old Teodora finally sets foot in the city of her dreams only to be targeted by enemies of Venice’s past. The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric revolves around Teo’s journey through Venice in 1899 as she uncovers her past and attempts to rescue the city from a bleak future. She goes “between-the-Linings” of the floating city, uncovering an alternate universe in which she discovers the truth behind Venice’s plight. Teodora’s adventures are riddled with captivating elements, from historic settings to “baddened” magic and gruesome villains.

Venice is overflowing with history, and Lovric makes great use of the city’s past to set the story. Many of the locations Teodora explores are real places in Venice today. The beginning scene finds Teo in a charming secondhand bookshop, eagerly browsing the shelves. Lovric reveals that this bookshop was inspired by one she found in the square of Santa Maria Nova. The prophecy given to the readers at the start references a “Bone Orchard,” more commonly known as the San Michele Cemetery. The author introduces these places with rich detail. Her use of setting is executed masterfully; she clearly understands Venice’s history.

Though the setting is realistic, the many magical elements in the novel are an important component of the plot. Teodora is submerged in a world of magic – good and bad. Teo herself is gifted with the ability to see a person’s dialogue written above their head, each in a unique font. She discovers more of her capabilities as she uncovers the links between her and Venice.
For a large part of the book, Teo is stuck “between-the-Linings.” This is a secret “city” exclusively for Venetians that also protects individuals in times of crises by hiding them from the normal world. The magic in this book adds layers to the beautifully crafted setting and is hidden in unsuspecting, normal places.

Each character of The Undrowned Child contrasts the traits of another. Teodora’s adoptive parents are scientists and do not believe in fate and magic. Meanwhile, Teo is an avid believer, which gives her the ability to see things the adults cannot. Additionally, Teo and her cousin, Maria, clash on multiple occasions. Maria is part of the “fashionable crowd” in Teo’s hometown, Naples, while Teo’s intelligent and reclusive personality ensure that she is often the target of ridicule by this group. The skilled use of juxtaposition along with the diverse cast make the characters unique and believable.
The author’s writing style is one of the most important aspects of any piece of writing. Lovric’s style is eloquent and bursting with detail. In one scene, Teodora visits the statue of Signor Rioba. Lovric details Teo’s perception of the statue, writing, “His motionless body seemed to trap centuries of anger inside it, like a prehistoric fly caught forever in a drop of amber.” The author’s eloquence allows for the story to come to life around the reader. Publishers Weekly praised the author’s writing, saying, “Energetic pacing, delightful fantasy, historical drama, lively humor, and a palpable love for Venice pervade the first YA novel from Lovric. Addressing themes of honor, friendship, redemption, and belonging, it’s an engrossing page-turner.” Lovric’s writing style gives the book a unique tone, while fluidly transitioning from one scene to the next. The novel would not be as captivating without the author’s unparalleled style.

The noble sights of Venice in The Undrowned Child hide an enthralling world of magic that Teodora is swept into. This novel puts readers in the majestic floating city, battling the enemies of Venice while dealing with the effects of being “between-the-Linings.” Make sure not to fall into the canals as you fall in love with this masterpiece. 


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