Those of you know who know me won’t be shocked when I admit it was this lovely cover that prompted me to request this one – and that I’d heard a lot of good things about this author…
BLURB: For centuries the gods of the Undersea ruled the islands of the Myriad through awe and terror: they were very real, and very dangerous. Sacrifices were hurled into the waters to appease them, and every boat was painted with pleading eyes to entreat their mercy. They were served, feared and adored. Then, thirty years ago, the gods rose up in madness and tore each other apart. Now, none remain. The islands have recovered and the people have patched their battered ships and moved on. On one of these islands live Hark and his best friend Jelt. To them, the gods are nothing but a collection of valuable scraps to be scavenged from the ocean and sold. But now something is pulsing beneath the waves, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it.
At long last – a really good blurb that gives a sense of the world and the stakes without deciding to spill all the major plotpoints in the first half of the book. And it would have been a crying shame if they had Spoiled this one, because it’s a real gem. I very quickly fell in love with dear little Hark, a streetkid who has been forced to live on his wits from a very early age. The main reason why he is still alive is because his bigger, smarter best friend Jelt has always looked out for him. Of course, nothing is for free and in return, Jelt expects him to fall in with his schemes to earn more. More money, more of a reputation… the kind of life that Jelt believes he should have – and Hark needs to be there alongside, whether he really wants to or not.
The story of these two boys unspools against the backdrop of a busy port, an increasingly profitable trading post now the savage sea gods who used to roam the Undersea are now all gone. Though there are still traces of them littering the seabed, or caught up in the barriers to keep out some of the more normal sea monsters, so there is a brisk trade in their remains littering the bed. As society is still adjusting to the apocalyptic changes caused by the death of the gods, more merchants arrive from other parts while there are factions still mourning the loss of the gods…
The depth of the worldbuilding is impressive and engrossing, given it is achieved without any holdup in the narrative, which gripped me throughout. I also loved the unpredictability, as just as I’d figured in which direction the story was going – it suddenly changed direction, dragging poor old Hark in its wake. The cast of supporting characters were all beautifully drawn, adding to the enjoyment and drama. I may have been initially attracted to this one because of the lovely cover, but it was the amazing writing that held me. I’ll definitely be tracking down more books by this talented author. Highly recommended for fantasy fans of wonderful worldbuilding and great storytelling.
The ebook arc copy of Deeplight was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.
Unspools , that is a fantastic word that I have now learned . I am going to look it up and try to use it now . Thank you for expanding my vocabulary .
Also , nice review , lucky you , you have had some good books read this year
Glad my review provided you with a new word, Rash:). I confess that upon reading your comment, I immediately scampered across to a dictionary to check I’d used the word correctly and was very relieved when I found I had!
And yes – you’re right… lucky, lucky me – I’ve had the most marvellous run of books this year!
I adore this cover as well. I’m sad that I haven’t read anything by Hardinge yet and I must remedy that at some point. Lovely review!
I highly recommend this one, if you don’t yet have any books by her:)
Oh this be on me list! I am so glad that ye loved it. I have read two other books by the author (need to review one) and enjoyed both though I had some issues with them overall. I think the thing I have come to realize about this author is that, for me, her world building and atmosphere are what keep me wanting to read her work.
x The Captain
Thank you, Cap:). I was immensely impressed with the quality of her writing – the worldbuilding is marvellous in the complexity and the way she braids details in amongst the action. I also liked the characterisation and the unexpectedness of the plotting – I’d relax into the story, assuming I more or less knew where it was taking me. And it didn’t. Particularly near the beginning…
I was really hoping there would be an audiobook of this, because these days listening to books is the only way I can get anything read in good time. I love Hardinge and this one has been on my radar for a while! But either I’m out of luck or an audio edition would be released at a later date because I can’t find it on Audible 😦
I’ve just nicked across to Amazon UK – and it’s available on Audible according to them…
I can’t wait to read this – and a 10/10 review is very encouraging. It’s one of the books that became a victim of my shocking October. November and December are my catch up months – I think I have only one review book due for each month.
I hope you manage to get to it sometime soon, because it’s definitely made my outstanding books list…
That cover is amazing! Great that the book is also good.
Thank you, Anne:)). It really is a gem:)
Fantasy books with a sea-based background are quite rare, so this one sounds like a breath of fresh air and a very intriguing story as well. Thank you so much for showcasing it! 🙂
You’re very welcome, Maddalena. It is shelved as a children’s book, but to be honest, apart from the young protagonist it doesn’t feel like it. The themes and writing style are very sophisticated and quite dark. But a marvellous read.
The cover of this book keeps catching my eye too, it’s stunning! I’m so pleased to hear that the novel lives up to it and that you enjoyed it so much. I’m going to add this to my wish list, and also make an effort to finally read The Lie Tree (which has been on my TBR for such a long time now).
Thank you, Hayley. I haven’t read The Lie Tree, but I will be tracking down more of her work. Hardinge’s worldbuilding is excellent.