Citizens of Crystal Springs, Maine, live longer than people anywhere else in the world. Their children are smarter and stronger than average. Legends are told of the Appledore family who came to the town many years ago in search of the fountain of youth and built the Water Castle.
Ephraim Appledore-Smith knew nothing of this when his mother dragged them to Crystal Springs to stay in their ancestral home so his father could recuperate from a massive stroke.
Ephraim's siblings, Brynn and Price, settle in to the town, the school, and their new life without a hitch. In fact, it seems to enhance their existing strengths. Ephraim, on the other hand, is overwhelmed and feels stupid compared to his classmates. On top of this, his lab partner, WIll, seems to resent him because of a along standing feud between the two families. Mallory, whose family have always been the caretakers of the castle, is caught up in her own issues and ignores him.
When Ephraim realizes that there might be something in the water that will help his father, he enlists Mallory to tell him the stories of the house and people who lived there. Then Will joins the conversation. The three become friends as they set out to explore the house, and the tunnels under it, in search of a miraculous cure.
The house itself is a character in the book. Its architecture has an Escher like quality, rife with unfathomable rooms and stairways. It is constantly humming and on occasion, emits flashes of blue light.
The novel weaves together history, science, and magic. We learn about Robert Peary's, Mathew Henson's, and Frederick Cook's journeys to reach the north pole. Nikola Tesla makes an appearance. There is radioactivity, electricity and the table of elements. In addition to all this is the fountain of youth - a potion that could make you live forever. Would you drink it?
It's a complicated tale filling the reader with questions and speculation. I can imagine the scintillating conversations arising from many different aspects of the book, so I think I'll order a set for lit circles.