Maggie, the protagonist of Eva Silverfine’s EPHEMERAL WINGS, is a mayfly nymph, an aquatic insect in her larval phase. She searches for algae to eat and for a sense of community as she awaits the day she will gain her wings and enter the “other world” of the sky. Caught adrift alone on a stream’s current, Maggie meets a midge larva named Rensaleer, who introduces her to a community of stoneflies he thinks can help her. As she learns about other various insects’ ways of life, her philosophy morphs, but her mayfly instincts remain, and she eventually continues on her journey in search of a flourishing feeding ground she believes she will know when she sees it.
Maggie is a thoughtful and independent, if occasionally lonely, nymph. She prioritizes her future over her present, eating to nourish her body for her eventual eggs and wings. She questions Rensaleer’s refusal to eat until satisfaction, as he works to maintain a light body that is unappealing to predators while he collects grains to decorate his home. Her interactions with Rensaleer and other characters show that she is curious, empathetic, and compassionate, which makes her a likable main character whose journey is enjoyable to follow. As Maggie traverses the vast natural setting, rich and vibrant language brings both its wonders and dangers to life. Beautiful imagery-driven word choice elevates descriptions of algae blooms, dense grassy forest floors, and the complex bodies of the varied insect species who appear in the story.
Myriad scientific names for insects and flora are sprinkled throughout the narrative, bogging down the text in places. If their intent is to educate about the names of things, they falter, as single occurrences are not memorable and the words themselves replace what may be otherwise more descriptive terms. The book is educational and inspires awe for nature when it shows the creatures in action and discussing with each other the realities of their biology and activities of their daily lives. The story’s conclusion offers an endearing encapsulation of the beauty of nature and the circle of life and the author’s background in ecology informs the content, but also illuminates the breathtaking complexities of the tiniest participants in the world’s ecological systems.
Eva Silverfine’s EPHEMERAL WINGS delights as it teaches about ecology and the impetus of following one’s natural instincts through the luminous story of a lovable Mayfly nymph.
~Aimee Jodoin for IndieReader