Ahoy there me mateys! I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
Title: the forever sea
Author: Joshua Phillip Johnson
Publication Date: TODAY!! (hardback/e-book)
I really, really wanted to love this book. Just look at the beautiful cover! It features the sea! Pirates! Female Captains! Magic! Sadly, I had to abandon ship at 50% cause the story wasn’t working. I even spoiled the ending by reading other reviews to see if I should push through in case it got better. I chose to stop.
- The Setting: This features a sea that is not water but grass! There is a world beneath the grass but humans don’t know what exists there besides monsters. Cool concept. I particularly liked that instead of fishing, sailors sail around to harvest different types of grass and plants.
- The Magic: I really enjoyed the idea of the hearth fires helping to run the ship. I adored the bird-caller having feathered friends help with navigation.
- Lots of female characters: There are all female sailing crews. They do not pine for men but rather for adventure and loot. Arrr!
- Water Subplot: I liked the idea of the water shortage on Arcadia and how it affected the social structure and rules of the city.
- The Main Character: Kindred (horrible name) ended up making me upset with her actions. She was selfish, impulsive, reckless, and irrational.
- The Framing Device: I hated this. It takes place far in a dystopian future where a supernatural type being is telling the history of the world. It was a boring beginning to the novel and interrupted story flow every time.
- The Magic: While the magic ideas were fun, they really didn’t make any sense in terms of how they functioned or what the rules were. The author chose to make Kindred learn by instinct. This made the magic seem like gibberish.
- Repetitive Themes: I got tired of the author making the same points over and over again. Kindred’s unorthodox and reckless use of hearth fire. How her training was both truncated and haphazard. Her unusual love for and connection to the sea. How she is Special. How Kindred’s grandmother was a Larger than Life Figure. Humans causing environmental devastation. Seriously this book needed trimming.
- The Plot: The story did not make sense to me in the slightest. Kindred chooses to lie to everyone and go on a hazardous crusade regardless of the consequences to those she cares about. The reasons for this abrupt turn around of her beliefs were silly. The evil villain had lame politics of “power at any cost” and felt completely flat. Much of that subplot felt forced. I didn’t even get to the actual pirate town because I was so bored and the pacing was so slow. When the giant wrym battle happened I was perplexed at how uninteresting it was. I should have loved the life on the sea but the events in the story were all too coincidental or too simple. Character motivations also seemed petty or nonsensical.
This book appealed in concepts but it didn’t work for me at all in the end. To the grass wyrms it goes. Arrrr!
So lastly . . .
Thank you DAW!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
On the never-ending, miles-high expanse of prairie grasses known as the Forever Sea, Kindred Greyreach, hearthfire keeper and sailor aboard harvesting vessel The Errant, is just beginning to fit in with the crew of her new ship when she receives devastating news. Her grandmother–The Marchess, legendary captain and hearthfire keeper–has stepped from her vessel and disappeared into the sea.
But the note she leaves Kindred suggests this was not an act of suicide. Something waits in the depths, and the Marchess has set out to find it.
To follow in her grandmother’s footsteps, Kindred must embroil herself in conflicts bigger than she could imagine: a water war simmering below the surface of two cultures; the politics of a mythic pirate city floating beyond the edges of safe seas; battles against beasts of the deep, driven to the brink of madness; and the elusive promise of a world below the waves.
Kindred finds that she will sacrifice almost everything–ship, crew, and a life sailing in the sun–to discover the truth of the darkness that waits below the Forever Sea.
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