This sensitive and imaginative audio adventure as part of the Written on the Waves second season is a wonderful way to complete the series.

How to deal with topics such as anxiety and depression for younger audiences and in particular highlighting the young people who have to look after younger siblings as well as parents who are suffering from depression requires great sensitivity and understanding. With Rime of the Second Sister, Ava Wong Davies really gets this balance right in a creative way that allows the audience to choose the path that the two characters take on their journey.

It is the Summer holidays and Eliza and Riley prepare for another day of adventure – whether it is battling a dragon or pick up some potion for the lost maiden that they are trying to find it is certainly a busy day ahead. While initially the audience is taken on a fairytale journey, what slowly emerges is insightful portrait of the impact that depression has on one family and the stigma that is attached to it.

With interactive elements, Jessica Rose McVay’s production is very intricate and really surrounds the audience – no matter which direction that the story takes, helped along by Laura Frances Heitzman’s beautifully colourful and playful illustrations that give extra insight into each scene. Throughout it all, it is also surprisingly comforting to listen to and it makes clear that no matter what option you make whether to fight the dragon or hide from it for example -there is not necessarily a right or wrong way to handle situations that you feel you can’t handle.

While the themes at the centre of the story are quite serious, it is handled with great delicacy – particularly when it comes to Eliza convincing Riley to help pick up the potion for the lost maiden (or in reality prescription for their mum) or when two boys from Eliza’s school calling their mum names – Eliza will do anything to protect her younger sister from the truth and how much she has had to grow up while mum is unwell. The bond and affection between the two sisters is clear in every interaction – even during the moments of tension while highlighting the stigma attached to depression and anxiety.

There is also plenty of warmth and depth from all of the cast that keeps the audience thoroughly engaged with the story that is unfolding – the emotion is really felt particularly during the climatic moments that reveals the final layer of the story perfectly.

With plenty of choices to make, if you take a listen to this yourself then the journey that you take will more than likely be different to my own – but there is still no mistaking that no matter what twists and turns happen when you listen it is an engaging and thoughtfully put together piece that rounds up this second series of Written on the Waves nicely.

By Emma Clarendon

Rime of the second Sister is available to listen to by visiting: https://www.forty-fivenorth.com/rime-of-the-second-sister .

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐