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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Desert Dwellers Earth and Water by Sarah Bergstrom is the second book in the Paintbrush Saga. Qeriya and her brothers Lahcen and Khalid have uncovered surprising truths about their origins. The fire reaume won the battle, but danger still lurks around every turn, and the three siblings are caught in the middle. For the first time, they're experiencing freedom away from the surveillance at home, now venturing into dangerous territory in their attempt to stay ahead of soldiers searching for them. During their journey, they're put up against other reaume as they seek to answer the questions that plague their search: who could be coming after Doctor Michael, who this stranger is, and how will they understand this mysterious prophecy in the search for their parents?
Sarah Bergstrom's world revolves around the reaume traits that people have, which classify them by elemental groups such as fire and wind. This delivers a magical world built on unique powers with a science fiction and adventure tinge. There are hovercrafts, floating cloaks, and the reaume, and the world adds to the adventure that the three siblings have embarked on with their journey rooted in their relationships with a prophecy, enemies, and dangerous territory full of obstacles. Despite the threats to their quest, they're experiencing some semblance of freedom away from home, which allows them to make their own decisions as they search for their parents. Doctor Michael is set up as an ally, but he also provides some mystery in the story, which unfolds along their journey.
The format of the story weaves between the present and the past with snippets between each chapter that dip fifty years ago into the past. While the present follows Qeriya, Khalid, and Lahcen, the past explores events involving Lourdes, Kari, and Einar. Einar is at the center of the snippets from his struggling with panic attacks over asking Alexis out to the eventual relationship that blooms between them. These flashes are essential to the story, with various characters from the past showing up in the siblings' story. This format creates a richness for the world, allowing the siblings' adventure to unfold organically. All in all, Desert Dwellers Earth and Water, delivers adventure, mystery, suspense, and danger set against the backdrop of a unique world.