Fable, Adrienne Young – Book Review

Hello Humans! Full disclosure – in case you have a gander at my goodreads and nothing makes sense – I’m writing this review way back in November of 2020. So if any references seem dated that’s not because I’m a time traveller…or is that exactly what a time traveller would say?

Today I’m reviewing the latest book from Adrienne Young, author of Sky in the Deep and The Girl the Sea Gave Back. I was delighted to be able to read an early copy of this book since I love pretty much any book set in/on/under the sea and let me tell you Fable does not disappoint.

Goodreads Summary:

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.

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If you know me you’ll know I love the sea, I grew up on the coast (ish) and I’ve since lived totally landlocked here in the middle of the UK for the last seven years – so when a book has even the slightest bit of ocean it kicks off some kind of primal happiness to just be back by the sea albeit fictionally. Fable was definitely another one of those books for me.

I have had a rocky relationship with YA in the last year or so – something about it just wasn’t hitting home the way it used to – but reading Fable felt like a return home to the kind of book I loved when I started blogging. Is it familiar and fun because it’s kind of tropey? Yes. But who ever said that was a bad thing?

So we have the main character, Fable, and she is a strong female character the likes of which I would have idolised when I was a teenager. What I liked about Fable is that she’s quite a quiet main character, by which I mean she isn’t always making comebacks and quipping. She’s got some wit to her – make no doubt – but she doesn’t feel like a one-liner in a corset. I think it helps that Fable has a skill that isn’t just ‘good with sword/bow/[insert weapon here’. While I’m not going to knock ‘girls with swords’ I thought it was cool to explore a character with a more…marketable skill? Fable is a dredger, which essentially means she dives in order to retrieve and sell crystals of varying kinds. Unsurprisingly this skill comes into play at various points in the book to great effect. It’s not that Fable can’t fight or sneak around or any of the other classic YA Hero aspects – but I enjoyed that her strongest suit is a skill that isn’t really combat based.

I had a strange time with the romance – which was purely my own fault – I read the age of one of the characters wrong and so in my mind he was essentially an old man and not a strapping romantic lead. That’s not a comment on the book and more of a ‘do not do what Judith did’ kind of comment. Once I got my head straight on that one I thought it was a very nice romance – I can’t say it totally blew my socks off but I’m quite particular as to my romances. I liked the way that the relationship progressed and I liked that, at least some of the time, it was two characters communicating rather than just being angsty on opposite sides of the ship. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll get a bit more out of this on a reread since it won’t take me so long to work out that there is in fact a romance…

I thought the setting was solid – well…it’s on water but you get what I mean. I’ve read books set on enormous tall ships and loved them so it was interesting to look at life on a smaller trading vessel. Not only does this amp up a lot of the tensions between the smaller crew but it also gives you that good found family vibes for which I am a sucker. On top of that it amplifies the ‘outsider’ feelings Fable has at the start of the book when she first joins the journey. I also thought the wider setting was interesting. I wouldn’t say there is oodles of detail as to the world and the culture of various places but I think this is a case of this particular story being quite isolated with the potential to develop those ideas in later books.

I had a very good time reading this book, I found it compelling and entertaining which is what I look for in a YA fantasy book. I’ll be very interested to read the next book to find out what happens to Fable and the crew – I’ll just be here twiddling my thumbs until that book comes out.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher, all opinions are my own.

Fable publishes today in the UK!

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What say you? Will you be reading this? Let me know in the comments below!

J

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