I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica
Series: The Hidden Sea Tales #1
Published by Tor Books on June 24, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic
Buy on Amazon
One minute, twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa is in a San Francisco alley trying to save the life of the aunt she has never known. The next, she finds herself flung into the warm and salty waters of an unfamiliar world. Glowing moths fall to the waves around her, and the sleek bodies of unseen fish glide against her submerged ankles.
The world is Stormwrack, a series of island nations with a variety of cultures and economies—and a language different from any Sophie has heard.
Sophie doesn't know it yet, but she has just stepped into the middle of a political firestorm, and a conspiracy that could destroy a world she has just discovered… her world, where everyone seems to know who she is, and where she is forbidden to stay.
But Sophie is stubborn, and smart, and refuses to be cast adrift by people who don't know her and yet wish her gone. With the help of a sister she has never known, and a ship captain who would rather she had never arrived, she must navigate the shoals of the highly charged politics of Stormwrack, and win the right to decide for herself whether she stays in this wondrous world . . . or is doomed to exile
I received this eARC from NetGalley and the publisher (Tor Books) in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is June 24, 2014.
My feelings on this book are kind of complicated so bear with me. Overall, I really liked it but there were a few things that irritated me about how the story was told. It was a great adult fantasy novel that is fun enough that it would be a good transition novel for someone wanting to branch into adult fantasy from YA fantasy.
Let’s start with the positives. Guys! This is a portal fantasy! In case you didn’t know, a portal fantasy is where someone from our reality/world is magically transported to a fantasy world and is stranded there. This made the book a super fun read for me. It has everything! It is smart and funny and has several elements that I love: pirates, a strong heroine, interesting family situations, realistic sibling relationships, magic, science, dueling, a murder mystery, and political intrigue all on the high seas!
This story starts out with 24-year-0ld Sophie trying to connect with her birth mother and it is not going well. She has resulted to stalking and when I say stalking, I mean she is literally stalking her birth mom. While doing said stalking, she witnesses and tries to stop an attack on the woman she thinks is her aunt. This action plunges Sophie into the world of Stormwrack and she has to learn how to deal with this parallel universe as well as a highly dysfunctional family and a very interesting political situation.
I really enjoyed the characters. Sophie is intelligent, adventurous, and very unfocused. I like that Dellamonica portrayed Sophie as a curious intellectual who is obsessed with the biological differences between her world and Stormwrack. She is always collecting and documenting samples. Sophie is a great example of a strong female character who isn’t instantly a butt-kicker. In fact, she is perfectly fine being a scholar not a fighter and she has her own talents that make her a valuable addition to this world. I loved Sophie’s adopted brother, Bram. He is one of those cool yet nerdy geniuses that everyone will fall in love with. He is definitely Sophie’s best friend and I found myself using his catchphrase “sub-optimal” after finishing the book. I absolutely adored the intellectual, teasing banter between the brother and sister. Sophie’s biological half sister, Verena, is tough and determined. I want to know more about her than we got in this book. I’m also interested in learning more about the honorable ship Captain Parrish and his first mate, Tonio. Could we get a prequel that has some of their adventures with Sophie’s Aunt Gale?
The world building is everything I want and love in a book plus some. Dellamonica created a rich, detailed world with a lot of diversity. There are a large number of different peoples, cultures, and several types of magic as well as lots of political intrigue and bureaucratic red tape. I am fascinated with the fleet which is basically a floating city comprised of hundreds of ships belonging to the different island nations of Stormwrack. I loved the ship descriptions! The magic system revolves around the inscribing of names and “intents” onto items and people. These inscriptions then utilize these people and things as focuses for magical power or gives the inscribed special abilities. It is so cool! I freaking want to go to Stormwrack after reading this! If you want to know more about how Dellamonica came up with the world, read this article.
As for the negatives, it took me a few chapters to get into the first-person narration because the main character likes to ask herself a lot of rhetorical questions. But once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. I found at times that the writing was a bit vague or confusing. So much so that I had to reread parts to make sure that I understood what was happening. I was reading an uncorrected proof so this may have been cleared up in the final version along with some typos and name inconsistencies. Also, I found that the pacing was a bit off but it wasn’t enough to detract from my enjoyment of the story.
I will say that I’m both satisfied and unsatisfied with how the book ended. I’m satisfied because the main story arc was resolved. But I’m unsatisfied because there are so many questions left unanswered. Which makes sense if there is going to be a sequel. I really hope that there will be more books! Please! Let there be another book or several books! I want to know what shenanigans that Sophie and Bram will get into next! I will totally be getting my hands on a physical copy of this story when it releases.
UPDATE: This is indeed the first book in a new series! I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one!
UPDATE2: The lovely author has pointed out that there are two lovely prequel stories about Parrish and Gale available on Tor.com for free! The first is “Among the Silvering Herd” and the second is “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti.” They are also available as Kindle books for $0.99 a piece. Believe me, they are well worth the money to buy!
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