Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Fable (Fable #1)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication date: 01 September 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
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.
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.
Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.
“Keep your knife where you can reach it.
Never, ever own anyone anything.
Nothing is free.
Always construct a lie from a truth.
Never, under any circumstances, reveal what or who matters to you.”
This was such a pleasure to read, not only in terms of the story and the characters, but the writing. Young’s writing was lyrical and descriptive without falling into the purple zone. Although I felt the pacing was ‘off’ at times, the writing is what kept me hooked. Young’s words flew off the page which ended up making this a very fast read (which then made me sad because I didn’t want it to end). One element that usually confuses me while reading books set on sea is the sailing lingo, but Young’s writing made it so easy to picture everything that unfolded and I was fully immersed in the story!
This world we dive into isn’t sometimes cutthroat and sometimes forgiving, it is always cutthroat and almost never forgiving. You have to keep your cards close to your chest or you’re done for, and this made for a high intensity story that was packed with action and intrigue; Young doesn’t pull any punches with this dark and gritty world. I really enjoyed learning about the set up of this world and while I think everything was explained really well, I do wish that we got to learn a bit more of the history especially relating to the sea-faring politics. But I do have a feeling we’ll get to learn a lot more in book two though!
“I wasn’t foolish enough to feel sorry for myself. The Narrows was the edge of a blade. You couldn’t live here and not get cut. And I didn’t have it in me to be ashamed of where I came from. Those days were gone”
I liked pretty much all the characters we meet, even the “bad guys”, and the bits of various histories we learn about each of them. My only complaint is not getting more pages to spend with them (I won’t even mention that cliffhanger ending)! Living in such a ruthless world, it’s deadly to show any sign of weakness or kindness, which means that everyone is a little/a lot morally grey. Even the Marigold crew, who are already different to any crew Fable has heard of, and who already have her breaking her five rules for survival, have done pretty horrible things. That said, I was living for the found family vibes and it was refreshing as it wasn’t an “insta-found-family” where the crew openly accept her the minute she steps on the ship; no, they definitely made Fable work for it but to see them all come together as a family is perfection!
“It’s better to be no one than to be someone in this city.”
I loved Fable. She’s an absolute fighter and a great example of someone who gets back up each time the world knocks you down. Although I can’t say that she’s nothing like any character I’ve read before, that didn’t make me appreciate her and her story any less. My heart broke for her and the situation she was forced to survive as a child. I felt so invested in her that I was constantly on edge because I didn’t want anything worse to happen as she’s already been through so much. She’s a little too caring and sentimental for this world, but that also helped her read people better, which she smartly used to her advantage! I just wanted all the good things for her as she tried to find where she belongs in this world.
“And no matter where I went, I’d never get home. Because home was a ship that was at the bottom of the sea, where my mother’s bones lay sleeping in the deep.”
There is a bit of romance too but it doesn’t take centre stage. It’s a very slow burn romance but watching these two dance around each other had my hopeless romantic heart swooning with delight. I loved West and I loved watching him go from stoic, professional helmsman, to a more open and vulnerable young man, especially around Fable. I loved learning more about his history and I really can’t wait to see what happens in book two!
TL;DR: Despite a slightly slow start, I ended up loving everything about this story. Do you want: lyrical writing that flows off the page? Check! Fantastic high seas adventures? Check! A ruthless world with morally grey characters? Check! A survivor of a protagonist that you will root for? Check! Found families, broken families and finding your place in the world? Check! A deliciously slow burn romance to set your heart fluttering? Yaas, check!! A cliffhanger ending that will leave you begging for the second book now?! Check check!! Basically… I’d definitely recommend reading this one.
Have you read Fable or is it on your TBR?