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Book Review: Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergen

I really enjoyed Waterfall- despite a few bumps along the way. Plus, I’m pumped to finally start a series that doesn’t force me to wait YEARS before the next books come out- cuz they’re already out! Woo hoo!

Book Review: Waterfall

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Title & Author: Waterfall: A Novel (River of Time Series)by Lisa T. Bergen

Genre: YA- Christian Fantasy

Release Date: February 1, 2011

Series: 1st in a planned series (Next up: Cascade & Torrent)

Publisher: David C. Cook

How I Got the Book: Got it for free on Amazon because of a tip from NC at TrulyBookish!

Description: “Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one.
Remaining means giving up all she’s known and loved…and leaving means forfeiting what she’s come to know…and love itself.

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds… until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

And thus does she come to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?”

An enjoyable read- despite a few reservations

Waterfall is not what I expected- in both positive and negatives ways. Probably one of the biggest surprises was that the book had some elements of faith or Christianity in it. Although I probably would have figured this out if I’d looked at the publisher, I didn’t think the book description hints at this at all.

The thing is- the elements of faith that are represented in the book are very brief and didn’t always fit in with the context of the story.  Gabi would be struggling mentally with the idea that she transported through time to medieval Italy, then randomly wonder if it was God’s will, having said herself that she never really thought about God or prayed ever before. I enjoy reading Christian fiction (ex: A Voice in the Wind), but I think I’m just used to faith being represented in a way that shows an overall, consistent spiritual struggle or growth throughout the novel.

On the upside- there are so many things to enjoy about Waterfall. Having recently visited Italy, I really enjoyed Bergen’s description of ancient Siena. Not only does Bergen paint a vivid picture of what living in medieval times must have been like, but she portrays Gabi’s 21st century experiences in ancient Italy realistically (well, as “realistic” as you can get). Like, when Gabi is first transported back in time, and the people she encounters think she’s in her “underclothes” because she’s wearing a tank top and skinny jeans.

The only other reservation I had about Waterfall was the dialogue. It hovers between hitting the mark on teen-speak and floating up to cheese-heaven. (no pun intended) Here’s one example:

“You need to go Marcello,” I said. “Depart.” Vamoose, I added, in my thoughts. Hasta la vista baby.

Not too bad, right? Just a little cornball. Kinda, like my personality 😀

Chivalry isn’t dead, my friends

I think Waterfall should get extra swoon points for all the chivalry that goes on. Marcello is dashing and protective and manly. Although the bad-boy, I-don’t-give-a-crap about anything type of guy is attractive to some girls (and is pretty common in a lot of YA books), I have never been drawn to guys like that. So, I really appreciated all the courtesy and charm and quaintness. (P.S. I would like to be carried around on a raised dais like…everyday!)

On a related note- the relationship between Marcello and Gabi is pretty complicated. I like how its handled though; there’s a good balance of tension, doubts with rewarding moments that keep the romance going. Plus, the romance doesn’t overly dominate the entire book.

Gabi is a very lovable character too-  she’s a smart, sassy woman who holds her own in time-warped Italy, who stirs up trouble and causes mischief everywhere she goes. She has a great relationship with her sister, Lia, and whose personality is a funny mixture of self-deprecation and confidence.


If you’re looking for a well-rounded book filled with laughs, love and adventure, then Waterfall is for you. This book has a lot to offer! Readers should know that there is a subtle Christian undertone that may not be conveyed by the book description alone. I think this novel will engage a broad range of readers because of its fun story, easy pace and endearing characters.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Natalie Spaan

    This book has been coming up a lot lately in reviews…Im intrigued! Great review!!

  • Yay! I’m glad you liked it overall! 🙂 Great review.

  • Truly Bookish

    Excellent review, so glad you liked it! I really want to read the other two books in the series, I have heard the both are good too. BTW, not sure if you already read it but Bright Young Things is free for Kindle right now. Another good historical read. Oh, and I added Cleopatra’s Moon to my TBR list, thanks for the rec, it looks really good!
    Truly Bookish

    • NC- you are so up on deals right now! 🙂 You should have a feature like that too! I hope you like Cleopatra’s Moon! Its on my list to read- but probably not for awhile *sigh*

  • This book sure is getting popular these days. Great review! I plan to read it, too, since I also got it for free on my Kindle.

  • Melissa Hayden

    I’ve been seeing good things on this one. But I’m not much of one for religion in books. But it does sound like a very good read. 🙂 Thank you!

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