Friday, June 27, 2014

Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica

The Basics:
Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica
Book One in the Stormwrack series
Published June 24, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

Fan of Tor, this one sounded different.

Book Blurb:

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, in Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica.

My thoughts:

Wow. This book was so. so. SO GOOD.

It was exactly what I needed - a dose of something really different. The worldbuilding is wonderful and rich. I haven't read fantasy that's been so bound to the ocean and water, and so that was a nice shift for me. There are some really lovely details in here, not only about the biological, which Sophie (our main character) is particularly interested in, but also politically. 

Now, to be clear, the beginning was a bit shaky - Sophie seems to handle being whisked off by a storm with greater aplomb that I can imagine. But it quickly becomes obvious that she's used to rolling with it when bad things happen, and making the best of it until it's safe for her to collapse. 

I loved Sophie. She's got some serious skills in her chosen field - basically exploring, really, and more practically in diving and soaking up the details of the world around her. But she's also got some real vulnerabilities - a soft heart, a serious responsibility complex (she feels responsible even when she couldn't have been reasonably expected to know the consequences), and a fear of being proven wrong. Growing up in the shadow of her brilliant younger brother has made Sophie a lot less confident about letting her inner light shine. Her curiosity and desire for knowledge is delightful. Sophie is a beautifully written character, fully formed, recognizable, and believable. 

There's genuine affection between Sophie and her brother, and still a need for her to find out who her birth family is. I loved the interaction with Verena, with her birth parents, with Lais and 'Captain Tasty.' I'd love to read more about Parrish, and really, any of these characters.

The plot line revolves around a tricky bit of political maneuvering that is so much fun to watch as it unfolds. Sophie navigates this world at times a little bit like a bull in a china shop, but at the same time I can absolutely understand why she does what she does. Her voice is spot on - curious, defensive, full of self-doubt and snark. Excellent!

From cover to cover, this book had me hooked. I needed to know what would happen next. When I realized I only had another 50, then 30, then 10 pages left, I was so sad that it was almost over. There's so much *more* that I want to know, including what happens next to Sophie and Bram, Parrish and Verena, even Cly and Beatrice.

More, please!  

Bottom line:

I strongly recommend this one. I want a hardcopy for my library because I will definitely revisit Stormwrack again. The sequel cannot come soon enough for me!

Check out the first chapter here: Excerpt at and then go buy your copy!

5 stars
For fans of fantasy, of sea/pirate stories, new adult fantasy, good books.

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