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Child of a Hidden Sea Hardcover – June 24, 2014
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Sophie was just looking for her birth family; she wades in to defend a woman she is fairly certain is her aunt and finds herself floating in an unfamiliar sea. Her aunt has been stabbed; there are moths falling to the surface of the water, and she doesn’t recognize the species. Fortunately, she is an experienced diver and keeps herself and her aunt afloat until they are rescued by Stele Islanders. Sophie rapidly realizes that she’s not anywhere in the world she knows. She’s stepped into the midst of a delicate political situation, riddled with conspiracy, and is about to be forced to navigate without knowing all the details. The sister she has just met and the captain of her aunt’s ship begin as unwilling allies, but as they work together to unravel the threads of conspiracy, they forge a real relationship—and Sophie gradually discovers more about why everyone seems to know her. Sophie is a delightful, curious, and engaging voice, and the political games of Stormwrack and the Fleet are a fine and entertaining framework for a story of intrigue and self-discovery. --Regina Schroeder
"This was a solid, enjoyable book, entirely appreciable on its own while setting up interesting hooks for future installments."―NPR
Top customer reviews
I adored the world building in this book! Stormwrack is complex and is filled with lots of different cultures, peoples, and religions. I mean the capital of the Fleet is basically a floating city comprised of hundreds of ships belonging to the different island nations. The magic system is fascinating! It revolves around the inscribing of names and "intents" onto items and people which can make things complicated. The system places a lot of emphasis on a person's name and I found it an intriguing thing when matched with the major plot line. I fell in love with the characters and I want to know more about them! Seriously, I need more Sophie and Bram in my life. And I'm dying to know more about the enigmatic Captain Parrish and the tough Verena.
I received this eARC from NetGalley and the publisher (Tor Books) in exchange for an honest review.
Even though it's a relatively big book, you can read it in a single sitting because it's so engaging. I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys fun, fantasy and a little dose of pop culture thrown in.
I fell in love with Sophie Hansa! She isn't perfect. She isn't the chosen one. She also isn't a girl who is tossed along wide-eyed, allowing all her decisions to be made for her while she sits mute. Instead she is a wonderfully curious young woman who questions everything and everyone (and herself). Sophie is a character who thinks, speaks (a lot!), and does things. She writes her own story, creates a few problems, and finds a way to solve them.
I'm hoping there will be more books in this series because I'm already looking forward to going back to Stormwrack.
So when I recently started following writers on twitter, the cover for A Daughter of No Nation was making the rounds and caught my eye. I also noticed tweets from Alyx and her partner Kelly on some of the other twitter feeds I followed and figured I should check out Alyx's work, the reviews for Child of a Hidden Sea intrigued me, especially the mentions of worldbuilding, interesting magical systems, and nautical adventure. I also saw numerous mentions of the main character making frequent use of real world examples and slang when interacting with natives of the other world.
Having read the book, I can say that many point are true, but in a positive way for me. The main character does make frequent reference to popular culture touchstones as she comes to grip with being in a whole new world, but it makes sense, because she is trying to keep from losing control in a totally uncontrollable situation. Her only contact with her home world is swiftly removed, and she finds herself shunned by people she knows are her biological relatives.
The worldbuilding is great, with just enough revelations to make you wonder if your suspicions about the great backdrop are right or not, and the magic used is a refreshing change from the normal Tolkien or DnD inspired magic often seen in fantasy. I don't know if Alyx is also a diver, but if not, she did her research enough to make me feel that she writes with knowledge, and the nautical focus of the setting is well served by her skill and research.
I also felt that the relationship between the main character and her brother was well executed and realistic, each of them a very smart, driven person beholden to their intense curiosity about the world they find themselves in. The main character has her own faults and foibles, but is a very capable expert in her areas of proficiency, without dipping into unrealistic levels of ability.
I especially liked that while there are numerous examples of action and combat, Alyx uses the threat of danger and death deftly, instead of bludgeoning the reader with blood and guts. The main character relies on her wits as much as her physical abilities, as do most of the other characters as well. And she needs her wits to be sharp because she is thrust into a world spanning situation that is way out of her initial depth, having to rapidly learn the various factions and history of the new world so as to decipher what is occurring and how to escape stumbling into danger for herself, or those she cares about.
So if you're looking for a great read with epic adventure, new worlds to explore, and well crafted dialog and plots, I would definitely give Alyx Dellamonica's Child of a Hidden Sea a BUY BUY BUY recommendation, and look forward to reading the squeal as soon as possible.