Author: Adrienne Young
Series: Fable (#1)
Publication date: September 1, 2020
Genre: YA fantasy
My rating: 4.5/5 stars
Folks, this book is more than just a pretty cover. After all the hype surrounding it when it came out, I wasn’t sure whether I would end up actually enjoying it as much as people suggested. But I am so glad I ended up reading it anyway last month, because y’all: this one is actually really good. Pirates, diving for gemstones, trade rivalries, and boats–it is a quintessential female-fronted maritime adventure, and I need more books like this one, stat.
(This is the blurb from Goodreads)
For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.
But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.
Seafaring adventures, themes of both grief and survival, complex family ties, and a world where anyone can betray you (and almost everyone eventually will): in Fable, Adrienne Young renders these elements with straightforward, visceral prose, and tosses in just a smidgen of magic for good measure. Though the story itself is solid, with a couple impressive twists along the way, what really holds it all together it is the fierce determination of the main character as she fights to survive in a world that seems determined to crush her at every turn.
I was also a big fan of how much of the story incorporated freediving. It’s such a fascinating sport/activity, and seeing a world where it is widely practiced as a full-blown trade skill was cool. The writing on the underwater scenes was lovely and atmospheric, combining the beauty of the sea with the omnipresent dangers its depths contain.
The only things I didn’t completely love were:
(a) the sudden, strong romance near the end–not that I didn’t see it coming, but there was so little romance throughout the whole book that it felt almost excessive, given the context
(b) the depth of the side characters–I want more about the crew members of the Marigold! Especially Auster, Paj, and Hamish; I feel like they were a little bare-bones despite being present for almost all of the book. Maybe we will get more of them in the sequel?
Still, overall, a great read, and one that it is very easy to sit down with and instantly lose track of time because you are just. so. engrossed. Dive into this one and prepare to be carried off on the currents of a compelling story.
Side note: this is a little shorter than my usual reviews. Good or bad? Also, for anyone still with me, here is the picture of this book I put on my Bookstagram: