I expected this book to be a really fun, light read.. since it was published as a middle-grade title. To be honest, I think the writer just seems very inexperienced. While the approach of the topics seems geared correctly, the writing itself is unnecessarily convoluted in places.
That's not to say the story is complex. The main theme is a very clear, quest-driven path. The concepts are airy and magical. The creatures.. perhaps given a chance to enjoy them.. would be lovely.
Unfortunately, that's the biggest problem. The author doesn't seem to understand how to provide character and backstory information in an effective manner.. allowing the reader to absorb it and carry it forward in their mind throughout the read.
Literally, the first 20% of the book is spent massively downloading information to us. The opening pages begin with one of the many species we'll be seeing.. and the author goes through all of the defining characteristics of them (right down to varying colors/and what that means.. if there's an elemental connection).. piece by piece. Stopping, only to move onto the next species and do the exact same thing. Pages and pages of details that when delivered en masse, you have no hope of recalling properly.
The next 10% is a battle, which sounded like it might have been fantastic. If.. if.. again.. the author hadn't been tripped up by the need to overexplain everything. I don't mean giving us a good visual.. I'm talking.. letting the reader know exactly where every single named (often 4-5 within each species) character is and what they are doing.. during the battle. In fact, throughout the book, she's terrible about having to name and interact with every single character present in a scene. There are five weredogs.. of course.. they all have to be spoken about individually.
Ultimately, I wanted to love this little book. Even with all it's problems, there were characters I liked and there were moments of tragedy that I felt. I just think this title could have been served far better by simplifying the delivery and cleaning up the scenes. Also, I really felt like the Blue Bottle didn't live up to the value assigned to it.. but.. that's just me. Hopefully, you'll feel differently. For me, it was just 'okay.'