Book Review: DEEPLIGHT by Frances Hardinge

Title in white on black with a jellyfish holding a boat above
Genre: Fantasy
Age range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone


Book cover for DEEPLIGHT: title in white on navy below a jellyfish holding a boat

The gods of The Myriad were as real as the coastlines and currents, and as merciless as the winds and whirlpools. Now the gods are dead, but their remains are stirring beneath the waves . . .

On the streets of the Island of Lady’s Crave live 14-year-old street urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt. They are scavengers: diving for relics of the gods, desperate for anything they can sell. But there is something dangerous in the deep waters of the undersea, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it.

When the waves try to claim Jelt, Hark will do anything to save him. Even if it means compromising not just who Jelt is, but what he is . . .

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


As the cover and synopsis tell, this book is set under the seas. It was such a creepy world of monsters and gods, where the line between them was non-existent. The Undersea (where the gods-monsters had lived) had that eerie, just off-kilter feel that so exemplifies Frances Hardinge’s books, weird and creepy, and guaranteed to stay with you for ages.

The world was not steampunky, but it had that old fashioned tech feel – submarines with oars, diving bells, and so on. I’ve seen it described as FRANKENSTIEN meets 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and that is a pretty apt way of summing up the vibe. It’s like a past world was spun off into a world of monsters, where fear powered magic. I loved the feel of it all, though it has just reinforced my dislike of open water. And the idea of subs (I am a little claustrophobic!)

Hark is a great character, and his journey to learn about friendship and trust was so good. I loved that the focus was on the abusive friendship he’s in and coming to see that his “friend” has changed – using a physical change as a metaphor.

DEEPLIGHT also features a lot of characters who are deaf or hard of hearing thanks to diving accidents. It was so nice to see them as a prominent and included part of society, one that had adapted to accommodate them. I’m not a member of the community so I can’t say if it’s good rep, though it looks like the author did her research and worked with members of the community from her acknowledgements.

That’s the end of the Frances Hardinge books I currently have (boo), but I will read the other published books once I’ve cleared my shelves a bit more! I’m slowly making progress!

Read my reviews of other books by Frances Hardinge:


Fly By Night:

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