Author: Adrienne Young
Narrator: Emma Lysy
Audiobook Length: ~9 hours
Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.
As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable 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.
Fable was a fantastic start to what promises to be an excellent duology. This novel is a fun fantasy adventure that mainly takes place on the high seas and in various ports of call. The novel features and does not feature pirates as they are never explicitly implied that some of the characters belong to this group. Instead, they are “traders,” while still deceiving each other and having rivalries between various ships. I found this novel very entertaining as I could not wait to see what would happen next. It does end in a cliffhanger, so it should not be read as a standalone, unless you are okay to not have a solid ending. I cannot wait to experience the next novel now that I have finally gotten around to reading this one!
Fable, a 17-year-old, dredger has lived on the island of Jeval after she was abandoned there four years ago. As a dredger, she free dives into the Narrows to excavate rare gemstones from the coral reefs. She is determined to earn enough funds to pay passage off the island and begin her search for her father, Saint. The story is told from her point of view as we follow her journey first on Jeval where her daily life and struggles are described. It can seem a little slow at first as her character is established and the world-building takes place. The novel picks up slightly when Fable finally has enough for passage off the island as she becomes a passenger on the ship, The Marigold, with its captain, the mysterious, West.
The story continues on her journey to find her father and she becomes acquainted with the colorful cast of characters that make up the crew of The Marigold. It is a great tale as each of the characters slowly reveal more of themselves and some secrets are revealed along the way. The plot is well-written as it flows well with Fable beginning in isolation on the island of Jeval and moving on to being a passenger on the Marigold where she is trying to find her father, hoping to join his crew. More than anything she longs to be a part of a family and it is very relatable to the reader. There is a lot of feeling in the writing as you feel the loss of Fable’s mother, her abandonment of her father, and her struggle to find a place to belong. This all is seamlessly intertwined into an enthralling adventure story where danger lurks around every corner.
The narrator, Emma, was great in many ways and there were other times that she was not my favorite. She did a fantastic job voicing Fable, but I felt that sometimes the same range of emotion was not given to some of the secondary characters. I understand that it is not always possible to give distinct voices to every single character, especially when there are multiple, like in this story, however, I wish more effort was given to more main ones, such as, West. I will have to see how she portrays everyone in the sequel as she is also the narrator for, Namesake. I am especially looking forward to her as Fable again as she fit the character extremely well.
There are a lot to love about the characters, but there are lot of questions that are left for most of them. As this is the start of a duology, most likely these will be cleared up in the conclusion. Saint is a fascinating character as he is both a guarded, yet soft character. He is very complex, but I wish there were more explanation to his motivations for him to abandon Fable and not be with her, even with a short visit, for four years. Fable was excellent as she was both strong and naïve. The balance between the two fits her upbringing well and was realistic to her character. There are moments where I forgot she was ~18 as, at times; I thought she was a younger teen. These moments are not throughout the whole novel and instead just come up here and there for me, so I never considered it an actual issue. West is a very mysterious character as I feel that there was not enough time dedicated to his character. I loved the parts that were included, but I wanted more from him. It could be this was done on purpose as he is meant to have a bigger role in the second novel, but I still wish for more time with him in this novel.
The storytelling in this novel was well-done as the story slowly builds up to an action-packed ending where you are left anxious to read the conclusion. There is a lot that occurs in this story and it sets the scene well for the next novel. There are plot points that you can guess what will happen early on, such as the romance, but there are many more that seem to be hidden until the last moment where Young reveals them. It made the story very engaging as there was not a way to fully guess every single thing that was going to happen, so the ending remained a mystery until the reader actually got there. The character development happens in a similar way where it happens very gradually over time and is very natural for each of the characters. The romance between West and Fable was very cute and I cannot wait to see how it develops further. It does seem to come suddenly as there is not a lot of backstory to build up to the romance aside from a line here and there in the writing. Overall, this was an excellent novel and fantastic audiobook. I cannot wait to read and/or listen to Namesake and see how this duology concludes!