A classic love story with mythical elements, Zoe Solomon
03 March, 2020
“In the beginning, there was darkness, a great expanse, and Tangaloa-Langi moved upon the face of the darkness.”
Telesa: When Water Burns is the sequel to Lani Wendt Young’s Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, and is followed by the final book in the trilogy Telesa: The Bone Bearer. Published in 2012, this novel initially appears to be the classic story of two teenagers who meet in high school and fall in love. As in the classic love story, after some obstacles, Leila and Daniel can finally be together. What makes this novel different from the other teen romance stories is that Leila, the main character, is a Telesa – a mythical goddess who can control natural elements. Leila is a fire Telesa, and this adds complexity to her relationship with Daniel.
Telesa: When Water Burns is about the relationship that Daniel and Leila can finally have together without the things that got in their way. However, when a mysterious stranger appears in Samoa claiming he knows Leila well and that they should bond, things start to get tricky between her and Daniel. On top of that, Sarona, the only member left in the Covenant Sisterhood, comes back for revenge.
Leila, the main character and narrator in the Telesa trilogy is feisty, stubborn, headstrong and not afraid to say what she believes or thinks. From the outset her persona is displayed as she broaches her returning to Samoa from America with her American family: “I was anxious for the funeral to be over so that I could go back to Samoa. I had done my homework. I was ready.” Her strength and forthrightness allow someone new to the trilogy to easily develop a relationship with Lelia, and it’s clear that she is a strong and fascinating protagonist. Her characteristics could be compared to that of Bella Swan from The Twilight Saga and to Diana Bishop from The All Souls Trilogy, two other romance trilogies. Both Bella and Diana are headstrong women who aren’t afraid to say what they think or believe. Leila is a good representation of females in today’s world – especially headstrong teenagers – and she is a good model to show to female young adults that you can still fall in love and not be controlled by males.
A common theme for authors to use when writing young adult novels is the theme of eternal love between two people. Although Lani Wendt Young has used this theme when writing this trilogy, she has added her own twist so that the novel stands out from the other young adult romance novels. Two novels that come to mind when I compare this novel to other literature are the trilogies I previously mentioned. These three trilogies all explore relationships between humans and fantasy creatures. In the case of Telesa: When Water Burns Daniel discovers that he actually isn’t human, as he had thought. Leila has already discovered this at the end of Telesa: The Covenant Keeper.
I believe that Leila was intentionally made headstrong by the author so that she could lay the underlying theme in her novel of the importance of sticking to what you believe in even when your opinions disagree with the male character. Leila sticks to her opinions, ending up getting her and Daniel into some big arguments including a break from one another at one point but they still end up back together because their love for each other is stronger than their different opinions. One of the biggest opinion differences they had was discussing a serious event that ended up getting them into trouble at the end of Telesa: The Covenant Keeper. Leila wants to discuss it but Daniel would rather just forget about it. Wendt Young introduces this topic quite early on in the novel. “ ‘No I don’t know what you mean, I know what I saw. What I saw was real.’ Daniel interrupted me. ‘Can we not talk about that night? I’ve spent the last six weeks trying to forget that night. Can we just think about today? Think about tomorrow?’ “ This quote shows what their arguments will mainly be about throughout the novel and shows Leila’s determination to do what she thinks is important.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was very entertaining and was similar to other books I’ve enjoyed reading. I liked the humour, which was dry, sarcastic and witty. This gave the novel an interesting dynamic, demonstrating the different ways humour can be used when writing. Honestly, this novel could’ve used a little less romance and a bit more action to make the plot more interesting. However, the main theme of this novel is romance so the idea of adding more activity is just my personal view and taste.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes The Twilight Saga or romance and action novels in general. This novel isn’t too difficult to read and it doesn’t have any words that anyone whose age is ten and upwards wouldn’t already know.
– Zoe is 14 years old and is a student at Woodford House, Havelock North