Ahoy there me mateys! This book has been on me list to read ever since I first heard about it. It’s a sea yarn! Then of course it appeared as a nominee for the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book this year and I am trying to read more of the list before the Hugo winners are announced.
I have read two other books by this author and what I love about her work is that the world-building is divine, the magic is fascinating, and the atmosphere is wonderful. Even if the characters and plot ultimately made this book not completely work for me, I still found a lot to enjoy here.
Did I mention this was a sea yarn? Floats me boat and tickles me fancy. I absolutely loved the island culture, the sea gods and their history, the sea-kissed divers and their sign language, and how real it all felt. Visitors would have to be wary but I wanted to set sail for the Myriad archipelago immediately. Not so sure how I would feel being in a ship underwater but there be a first time for everything.
So what was the problem? A personal quirk of mine. The friendship in the story is a toxic one and I don’t like reading about them. I wanted to kick the main character, Hark, even if I understand that these types of relationships do occur in the real world. Reading the blurb would have helped but I chose to go into this book blind and so got more annoyed with the main character than I perhaps would have otherwise. At first I enjoyed that Hark was an ambivalent, flawed character who makes bad choices. I was cheering him on . . . until I wasn’t. No one deserves to be treated the way he was and yet I started to get annoyed with Hark’s choices and justifications and it tainted the book. In fact there was a secondary character named Selphin that I loved so much, I began to wish it was her story. But again, I think this is more me than the book. I think.
I also didn’t love the climax and conclusion of the novel. It felt both overly complicated in execution and disappointingly predictable in story elements at the same time. If that makes any sense. So while this wasn’t a solid win, it proves that I will read books by this author just to see what world she will come up with next. Arrr!
Goodreads’ website has this to say about the novel:
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea meets Frankenstein in Frances Hardinge’s latest fantasy adventure
The gods are dead. Decades ago, they turned on one another and tore each other apart. Nobody knows why. But are they really gone forever? When 15-year-old Hark finds the still-beating heart of a terrifying deity, he risks everything to keep it out of the hands of smugglers, military scientists, and a secret fanatical cult so that he can use it to save the life of his best friend, Jelt. But with the heart, Jelt gradually and eerily transforms. How long should Hark stay loyal to his friend when he’s becoming a monster—and what is Hark willing to sacrifice to save him?
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Previous Log Entries for this Author
the lie tree (Captain’s Log – YA Fantasy)
skinful of shadows (Captain’s Log – YA Fantasy)