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The Wellmaster: The Weeping Wall by Alain CarverEarly in the TV show Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane wonders why people nowadays actually have to buy water from the store, in a bottle.

Abigail answers that Ichabod probably wouldn’t want to drink out of the stream (you know, because of the things that we dump in the environment like a giant trash can). I tried to find a clip, but couldn’t. It’s somewhere in the first season.

Anywho, among news of the serious drought affecting California (funny photos of an almost snowless Lake Tahoe) and Nestlé buying up British Columbia’s water for peanuts and reselling it for millions, concerns about the future of humanity in a constant global water crisis is fertile soil for fiction.

Alain Carver’s Wellmaster: The Weeping Wall is an interesting attempt at imagining a society where water is the currency of choice: the more valuable you are, the more water you get. At the centre of the village, it’s not food or money that’s distributed: it’s litres of water.

Water is so precious that every drop of moisture, even your own sweat, is saved up:

Life was like that for us, together. Looking back now, we spent every minute that we could together, Tarka and me. I was young and small, thick curls tight against my head, just like you now, and although Tarka surpassed me in age, strength, and popularity, I think she needed me as much as I needed her. Tarka was my best friend.

That afternoon, she pulled a hand through my sweaty hair, a breathless smile spread on her face, and rubbed the palm of her hand against the rim of a jar to store the liquid. The hot sun beat down through the gaping windows.

This is a short book, a novella really, about 40 pages. It’s a childhood adventure told through the eyes of the grown-up hero, about a time which, I hope, is long past. The main character is an inquisitive child, still surprisingly innocent in a harsh, harsh world where people are left to die of thirst because they are sick or old, and where torture is as simple as watching water get wasted as you burn in a heated room.

After an ordinary day cavorting through the town and watching a protest against the power of the Wellmaster, the hero and Tarka get embroiled in a game of cat and mouse with the town’s chief law officer that will reveal the cracks in the power of the Wellmaster, but also his (or her) insane privilege: unfettered access to water.

The world Carver builds is compelling and interesting. It could be us, someday, sooner than we think. It definitely has potential should the author want to develop it into a full series of novels.

Carver’s writing is a little rough around the edges sometimes, but is capable of carrying convincing action scenes as well as relatable emotions. I do trust that a few more novels will polish that writing right away. It’s pretty great for a first work, compared to other self-published stuff I read, and from much more experienced writers. I especially enjoyed the fast pace and the characters with whom we can easily identify.

I hope Carver decides to continue exploring this attractive world. There is potential for a much more developed narrative, an epic about power, the will to survive and friendship. This book feels preliminary, a prologue to something that’s worthy of much deeper, sweeping writing.

Disclaimer: Alain Carver is a friend (writing under a pseudonym) and I received the book for free. However, and as always, the review is my own.

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