The next Adrienne Young book! While everyone love Sky in the Deep, I feel like I’m the only one who liked The Girl the Sea Gave Back lol. But this is a whole new series with a whole new group of complex characters that might be in even more constant danger than Eelyn and the vikings.
Now, before I give away the plot, let’s get to the review!
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable 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.
Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.
One warning before we start talking characters and things: Fable ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. Like if this was a TV show finale, people would be pissed they had to wait 3-6 months to find out what happens. Luckily, the next book, Namesake, comes out next year so it’s not too long a wait. If you want to wait until both books are out before you start reading…I would not blame you.
OK, on to Fable!
It all starts with Fable, a teenage girl who is stuck on an island where the mentality is very much survive-or-die. How did she end up on this island? Her father left her there. They ended up shipwrecked nearby and not only did Fable’s mother die, her father decides the best place for her is a dangerous island where she knows no one, is alone, just lost her mother, and has to struggle to survive. Yeah…super nice guy, but we’ll get to that later.
Despite all the odds, Fable is surviving. And she’s been saving her money so she can buy passage off the island. She just needs a few more jobs dredging and she’s good. But things never work out that way, right? And Fable lands herself in trouble and needing to flee ASAP.
So, she runs to the ship of a man, West, who buys her pyre and underwater treasures. He’ll help her, right? Well….
Let’s just say he and his crew almost push her over the edge of the ship to meet her fate. But something makes West stop and allow her on board. He gives her the safety of his ship and they sail away.
THAT is nowhere near the end of the danger in this book
Lets talk about the crew!
West: captain, leader, big brother, would probably sacrifice himself for the rest of the crew
Willa: big sister, fierce, loyal, second-in-command, wants revenge
Hamish: accountant, sometimes threatening, loyal as hell
Paj: navigator, sometimes suspicious, loyal, in love with Auster
Auster: stryker (handles nets and traps), gives Fable her first job on the ship, kind, loyal, in love with Paj
They are a complicated bunch and it will make you love them all the more for it. They’ve all come from nothing, escaped something, and now they’re a family and yes, let’s sob together.
But where are they headed with Fable? Well, Fable is looking for her dad and since the crew of the Marigold is on their way to the Narrows where she knows he’ll be, it works out for everyone.
Unfortunately, Fable doesn’t know everything about this crew, about this ship, and who they work for. Who they owe money to.
Eventually, they get to the Narrows and Fable sees her father for the first time in years. I won’t giveaway what happens at the reunion because it’s beyond epic but you can probably guess from his behavior before that he’s not all affection and hugs. He’s a bastard. But Fable has been hardened by life. She’s not a naive girl. And she’s got a plan to get back at him and help her new friends all at once. That is…if it doesn’t kill them all first.
Ok, there is some kind of magic going on with Fable. And maybe not just her. People in this world can hold their breath for A LONG TIME. They can expand their lungs to hold just the right amount. It’s immensely cool. Fable is also a gem sage which means she can read gems, feel their properties, know things about them. And holy hell, it’s fascinating but it’s also quite dangerous to be a gem sage in this world
I’m also obsessed with how water-centric this book is. You would never guess that from the cover. Itotally thought this was a fairy tale retelling or something in the forest. It screams MERIDA. But I LOVE a book that takes place on the sea. It gives me life and makes not living on the beach or being able to go there more often actually bearable.
Specific scene I loved: There is a point where the crew needs a new sail for the ship and the way they get it is so goddamn fun…I can’t even take it. It’s the moment you want in every found family adventure book. I smiled while reading it.
Things I didn’t love: I don’t believe in the romance between West and Fable that eventually happens. I didn’t get the build-up I wanted. I needed more interactions between them. More tension. More explicit “oh shit” feelings coming from both of them and I didn’t get that. By the time the romance was full-on, I didn’t want it. I wanted an adventure book about friends who will kill for each other. If the romance wasn’t there (and yes, I know I’m a huge romance fan), I’d probably be giving this a higher rating.
Ok, obviously I’m not giving this away. But be wary of who they say is dead. That’s all I’ll say.
Overall, Fable is a hell of an adventure. There were a couple of moments where I was meh or wanted the pace to move a little faster, but as a whole, this is a book I’d read again. I’m giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martins Press/Wednesday Books for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review.
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