ARC Review: FABLE by Adrienne Young

I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in red on a dark blue green sea with frothing waves
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: yes - first book in duology

Synopsis:

Book cover for FABLE: Title in white above the red hair of a submerged girl

For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she 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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I’ve been looking forwards to reading FABLE for a while, because Adrienne Young’s books are so beautifully written and I love the US covers and how they fit together. Then it started making a fair bit of noise around the awards and getting picked up for book clubs and the such, which only made me more eager to read it.

For a book about diving and dredging, it has perfectly captured the feeling of being underwater – smooth, cool, and slightly cut off from the rest of the world. It feels exactly like gliding through water, everything painted that blue-green of clear, deep water. The prose flows so well, and to evoke an atmosphere that completely is very impressive.

This is not just found in the prose, but in the pacing and plot too. There’s a tranquillity to this book that her Viking duology didn’t have. It’s not obviously building and rising to a big confrontation at the end – it’s not frantic and sharp, but more observational and languid feeling. There is forwards progression, but it’s much more relaxed, more interested in building the world and characters than demanding a big action sequence.

The ending, therefore, doesn’t feel much like you’d expect in YA fantasy. It’s not desperate and pulse-pounding – there is a cliff-hanger, but it feels more inevitable and very open, rather than the definitive end to a book. I guess it’s like the last scene before an ad-break – there’s a beat of tension, but it doesn’t feel resolved because you know there’s more to come. Unlike the first book in a more traditional YA fantasy duology, where it feels like the ending is the end of an episode.

I really liked it, because it suited the book so well, and I wanted to read something gentle but moving, a book that felt more like a setting and an escape to a real seaside world. Given everything that’s happening, to be able to really feel like I was on a boat on blue waters (to me, it feels like the Greek islands in aesthetics, if not in culture), was something special.

I can’t wait for NAMESAKE to release in just a few months!


Read my reviews of other books by Adrienne Young:

Fable (this series):

Sky in the Deep:

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