Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Review: Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica

Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica

Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: June 24th, 2014
Pages: 336
Series: Hidden Sea Tales #1
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3/5
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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'm trying to think of other portal fantasies I've read and the only one that comes to mind is Narnia. So it turns out that Child of a Hidden Sea fills a void I didn't even realize I was lacking in. Which is also great because it made me realize how fun portal fantasies can be. I like knowing there is still an earth for the MC to potentially return to if life in this other world is complete shit. Or you're missing technology just too much.

Sophie finds herself in Stormwrack after trying to save an aunt she's never met from attackers in San Francisco. So after finding her birth mother, who refuses to talk to her, Sophie pretty much does some stalking on her. And one night that includes this other women, who Sophie decides to follow. I guess you can say that stalking really became bittersweet; she saved this lady from being beaten to death but those actions brought Sophie to nearly drowning when she's pulled in a different world.

Stormwrack is a pretty cool world. It's mostly water, which means the residents are either living on smallish islands or their ships. And the ships or Fleet seem to be where most of the action takes place. Some of the more higher up residents are aware of earth, some do travel there for business. But earth is like the dirty little secret, especially because Stormwrack does not have any modern day(or otherwise) technology(including weapons). Although it doesn't seem that all inhabitants have it, magic along with piracy and confusing laws that can be reworked for ones benefit are where Stormwrack's main problems lie.

Sophie really is something. I had my ups and downs with her. On the one hand she seems to be brave, resourceful and curious. She definitely has no problem speaking her mind; which has its pros and cons. For someone that is thrown into a world rift with political unrest and conspiracy, who also finds herself being a key victim or maybe even player in the games, having a voice is keeping her alive. But I also found her to be somewhat insensitive, stubborn and easily offended. Sophie is in uncharted territory, she's new to Stormwrack and I get having opinions but when a resident of this world letting you know something important or hey having an opinion on something they understand more than you, getting your back up shouldn't be your automatic reaction. Apart from that, I really enjoyed how much of an explorer Sophie is. Her first thoughts are on the world and how it came to be and the animal and plant life that is obviously different than earth. She's definitely a curious one.

There is also quite a handful of secondary characters that make the story. Bram is Sophie's genius brother. They really set each other off with the need to understand and learn the new. Verena, Sophie's half-sister. The fun was in them finding out about each other and Sophie trying to make Verena like her. Captain Parrish, is that broody mysterious handsome guy that every story really needs. He's super loyal but there's definitely still a lot to learn about him(that's what the sequel is for, I hope). There's so many more characters that are important to Sophie's story that I loved to mention, but you know, spoilers. I was definitely impressed with the ride range of personalities encompassing the cast.

The writing, the world and Sophie took some warming up to. And I mean it took about half the book to be okay with all three. I was still interested in the world, so that's what ultimately kept me reading. But I won't pretend I wasn't confused half of the time. Getting used to a fantasy world is normal; there's names, places, usually a different language(s). But with Child of a Hidden Sea being a very political fantasy, there were laws and such as well. And it was a lot. I don't want the author to dumb down anything, just needed more explanation. That problem was with Sophie; she seemed to have no problem just getting everything going on around her. So rather than someone really explaining to Sophie the situation and the politics around it there'd be a sentence or two on the pertinence and than Sophie would be right in the situation making plans. That left me in the dark. I was still thinking whaaaat? And honestly upon closing the book am still not 100% on everything.

Child of a Hidden Sea is definitely a unique fantasy. The world of Stormwrack is by far it's strongest and most fun element. Yes, it's a portal fantasy with a interesting bunch of characters, but at it's heart it is a detailed political water world that reads really slowly. So although I enjoyed it, I would say that this one is a time eater and would really only speak to readers who enjoy political unrest.

Happy reading!


1 comment:

  1. I like the basic concept but it sounds like it's a bit on the complicated and I tend to avoid political unrest. Maybe that's why I read so many books set in small towns? Not much political unrest there! I'm in the mood for a good MG adventure story which I thought this was based off the cover but I don't think this is what I'm looking for. Great review!