- File Size: 2969 KB
- Print Length: 432 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1419743201
- Publisher: Amulet Books (April 14, 2020)
- Publication Date: April 14, 2020
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07WWHFFQL
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Not Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,534 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$15.54|
|Print List Price:||$19.99|
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Deeplight Kindle Edition
|Length: 432 pages||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled||Page Flip: Enabled|
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|Age Level: 14 - 99||Grade Level: 9 - 17|
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About the Author
"Glorious thematic complexity inhabits a wildly inventive world, with the menacing roils of a dangerous sea threatening the archipelago and touches of steampunk rounding out the fantastical elements."
“Monsters and mortals collide in this fantasy adventure that explores the hypnotic allure of fear, the adamant grip of the past, and the redeeming power of stories.”
"Equal parts dazzling fantasy, swashbuckling adventure, and tender coming-of-age tale, this ambitious standalone from Hardinge (A Skinful of Shadows) cautions against xenophobia, zealotry, and greed while using boldly drawn characters to illustrate storytelling’s power and fear’s role in faith."
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Deeplight is not just my book of the year – it’s right up there with my favourites of all time.
We start with Hark, whose whole life is a hustle to scrimp by and whose best friend and only ally – Jelt – takes advantage of his good nature time and time again. Reading about Hark’s daily struggle had me immediately on edge, before the main plot even got fully underway! I really empathised with him, as he made one poor decision after another; all rooted in his inability to say “No” and stick to it.
The worldbuilding here is spectacular too. Hark lives on a kind of pirate-island, in an archipelago where it is each island for itself. The seas used to be ruled by the gods of the Underneath, but those glory days are gone and all that remains are the pitiful-yet-powerful body parts that are scavenged to create steampunk-esque tech for those who can afford (or steal) it.
There are familiar political undercurrents beneath the surface story of survival, as xenophobia is slowly building and more islanders fall to the fear of invasion from outside influences, without their gods to protect them.
This story truly has everything I look for in a fantasy novel. There is an unsettling, eerie beauty in the mythology described, that can only be labelled with Hark’s own descriptor: ‘frecht’. I found myself haunted by the world beneath the waves, by Jelt’s emotionally abusive hold on Hark, by the broken priests and bitter pirates, and most especially, by the gods themselves – reduced to a jumble of undignified parts, yet still retaining the horrific majesty of the ‘other’.
I seriously cannot recommend this book enough, or do it adequate justice with my words. I can only recommend that everyone reads it; as I head off to buy a beautiful hardcover copy for my personal favourites shelf – have you seen that cover?!
They say that there is a dark realm of nightmares that lies beneath the true sea. When the Undersea arches its back, the upper sea is stirred to frenzy.
They say that the Undersea was the dwelling place of the gods.
They say many things of the Myriad, and all of them are true.
– Frances Hardinge, Deeplight
Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
There is obviously a lot going on in this book, and the worldbuilding was next level creative. Each sea-monster/god is different, and the descriptions of them were fantastic and a bit creepy. The mysteries of their existence and sudden disappearance unravel throughout the course of the book. That's kind of half of the book, and the other half is the adventures of Hark (they are, of course, intertwined), which I didn't love as much due to his blind devotion to Jelt. But even still, Hark's story goes down a very interesting and unexpected path and I think a lot of young teenage boys will identify with him. The book's message ends up being about your story/legacy and storytelling, which resonated with me as it will with anyone who understands the power and value of good storytelling.
This is a perfect read for tweens and teens graduating from middle grade fiction to YA who love adventure with a touch of horror. If this book finds it's audience, I can see it being really popular. I really enjoyed it! 4 stars.
Thanks to Netgalley and MacMillan for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Deeplight is available now - put your copy on hold today!
Top international reviews
Whereas Hardinge’s last three novels have mixed the supernatural and historical fiction, this latest tale is set on an alternative, fantastical world, on a sprawling archipelago called the Myriad. There are hundreds of tiny islands which trade with each other for survival and the action begins on the Island of Lady’s Crave where two fourteen-year-old street urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt scrape a living. Both boys were brought up in an orphanage and have run with gangs and wheel and deal to survive, often taking hard knocks along the way. The novel is seen from Hark’s point of view, but much of the mischief the boys find themselves in is Jelt’s doing, who lives particularly close to the edge and is often the dominant side of the friendship.
You could be forgiven for thinking an adventure story with two orphans sounds slightly familiar, however, it is the setting and the world-building which marks this book apart from the competition. Myriad is a superb creation and if you’re after a location to fire the minds and imaginations of young teenagers then look no further than Deeplight, as the backdrop is something special and positively brimming with clever ideas. For centuries the islanders lived in awe and dread of the grotesque and terrible gods that lived in the deep seas, which were effectively giant sea-monsters who could attack boats and ships at a moment’s notice. However, thirty years before the novel begins there was a cataclysmic event where all the god-monsters unexpectedly killed each other, and the reason is shrouded in mystery, a part of recent history strangely forgotten. It takes its time getting there, but this background information surrounding the gods eventually becomes critical to the plight of our young heroes Hark and Jelt.
The relationship between Hark and Jelt is key to the success of the book. Jelt is the instigator of many of the dodgy schemes which often leave them in trouble, however, Hark feels duty bound to follow him as his sturdier friend protected Jelt in their orphanage days and never lets him forget it. Jelt is not a particularly sympathetic character and the teenage reader will enjoy the backwards and forwards relationship between the two boys. Hark knows Jelt is not good for him but is still not strong enough to break free and readers will undoubtedly pick up on the elements of peer pressure relevant to kids today.
How are poor kids meant to survive once they’re ejected from the orphanages? How can they make any money? The answer is pretty cool…. In the three decades since the monster gods died, fisherman and travellers have discovered fragments of the dead creatures whilst out fishing or swimming. These finds supposedly have exciting and useful properties, so a diving and submersible salvage and scavenger culture has emerged all over the Myriad. Ultimately finding valuable ‘godware’ can make your fortune, but much of it is fake and the two teenagers get sucked into this world when they find a very strange piece of godware, which is most definitely not fake, and although it looks to bring them easy money, it brings even more trouble in a very clever and original story strand.
The perception different characters had of the monster gods was fascinating; Hark dreams of them through romantic eyes, but an old priest who remembers the reality reveals the true story. Other characters search for ancient scripts which would make clear what really occurred thirty years earlier, whilst dangerous fanatical sects plot to see the return of the gods. Deeplight is loaded with clever observations that add to the richness of the world Hardinge has created; I loved the idea of the ‘Sea Kissed’, those who have spent too much type underwater which can lead to a loss of hearing and communication in sign, including the teenage girl Selphin who has an entertaining friendship (of sorts) with Hark. The steampunk elements are developed when we meet the scientist Dr Vyne and her exhilarating ‘Butterly’ submarine. The dead god monsters also have all sorts of creative names, including ‘The Glass Cardinal’ and ‘The Hidden Lady’. Fantasy lovers are going to adore this book and its many quirks.
Children novels which allow youngsters to forget their mobile phones and television and escape to faraway places are vitally important as we all need to dream of faraway places. Lands which are drawn so vividly they become real enough to touch are truly special and Frances Hardinge has created such a place in Deeplight. As the story develops Hardinge slowly reveals the bigger geographical picture of where the Myriad archipelago is in relation to the wider world and has planted the seeds for a location which is ripe for exploration in future stories. I have said many times in my commentaries on Ginger Nuts of Horror that there are quite simply too many never-ending sequels in teen fiction, but with Frances Hardinge I am happy to make an exception.
The protagonist of this powerful science fiction/fantasy is 14-year-old Hark, who lives by his wits on the streets of the island of Lady’s Crave. He and his best friend Jelt are scavengers, diving for godware in order to sell. One day they encounter something stirring under the waves, something calling to them. Something valuable and dangerous that many wish to possess, including smugglers, scientists, and fanatical cultists.
I will avoid saying more to prevent spoilers though in this coming-of-age story Hark’s relationship with Jelt is central. In the course of his adventures he also meets Selphin, a daughter of the local smuggler queen.
Selphin is deaf, what is referred to in the novel as ‘sea-kissed’, as are many on the island who experience hearing loss from diving. As a result “there were so many sea-kissed across the Myriad, virtually all islanders knew some sign language.”
In her end notes Hardinge acknowledges the young reader who had asked if she would ever consider including a deaf character in one of her books and inspired the creation of the ‘sea kissed’. She went on to serve as a consultant for the novel.
‘Deeplight’ was quite a slow burn and it took me a while to feel totally engaged with its characters and story. However, having read other works by Hardinge, I had confidence in her storytelling skills. Indeed, it wasn’t long before I became totally caught up in this powerful story.
I loved its rich and strange island setting and while marketed as Teen/YA, it is a novel that is sure to appeal to lovers of science fiction/fantasy hybrids of all ages.
The sea gods who once ruled the seas around the island chain of the Myriad are gone, having turned on each other in a frenzy of destruction. There is nothing left of them but the shards and fragments of their existence, known as ‘Godware’. These relics are hugely valued and sought after.
Hark, the main character, scratches a precarious living scavenging the sea and the coast of his island home. Hark is self-serving and opportunistic and yet, somehow, we find ourselves totally on his side, especially when he finds himself struggling to remain loyal to his friend Jelt as it becomes increasingly clear that Jelt’s behaviour is risking the safety of all who inhabit the islands.
This is a vivid, complex visualisation of a world in which Hark - with the dubious support of the ‘sea-kissed’ Selphin and a frail, ancient priest – must travel to the undersea domain of the dead gods in order to save the islands from a catastrophic fate, a journey that will force him to question the very heart of everything he values.
Hark is a worthy successor to Mosca from ‘Fly by Night’, Triss from ‘Cuckoo Song’ and Makepeace from ‘A Skinful of Shadows’, all complex, many layered creations that demonstrate the author’s skill in creating utterly memorable characters existing within beautifully constructed alternative worlds. Fabulous!