Author: Adrienne Young
Series: Fable (Book 1)
Page Length: 368
Publication Date: Sept. 1, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Synopsis: 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.
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Fable is a beautifully written story about one young woman’s search for self and family in a ruthlessly unforgiving world of piracy. It examines relationships and the cost of loving in a society that preys on weakness.
Fable, abandoned by her father after the tragic death of her mother (WHY?!?), lives on a cutthroat island of thieves and criminals. She scrapes to get by, dredging jewels from the bottom of the ocean and determined to save her money to buy passage off of the island and back to her father.
Fable’s plan is pushed forward when her life is in imminent danger, and she begs one of the traders for help. West, the stoic, young captain of The Marigold, reluctantly grants her passage, and her journey begins. But Fable quickly learns that things, and people, aren’t always what they seem, and she must decide what she is really searching for. An epic tale of loss, love, and life on the high seas, Fable is one of my favorite reads of the year!
Oh my word, the characters! Young has skillfully crafted dynamic, fascinating, and likeable characters with rich back-stories. Fable is a fantastic protagonist, and I loved her journey, both physical and emotional. Though her life hasn’t been easy, Fable never gives up. She lives in a ruthless world made even more dangerous because of her gender and her gift, and she deals with insurmountable obstacles. However, Fable shows courage and hope during the course of her odyssey, and even when the odds are against her, she searches for the connection that she lost when her mother died.
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.
Fable is observant and savvy, and she reads people well. Take the crew of The Marigold, for example. Oh, the crew! I adore this rag-tag group of friends! West, Paj, and the others fit so seamlessly together, and Fable admires their strong bond. It is with her new crew-mates that Fable feels the first hint of family since her mother died, and she works hard to prove her worth to them.
At face value, West and his crew seem like the stereotypical pirate scoundrels, willing to put aside their morals for reasons unknown to Fable. But they are much more than the hard, unfeeling ruffians they present themselves to be. They are a family, and once Fable earns their respect, they show her what it feels like to belong. It is in their actions and Fable’s observations that we see their resilient, loyal, dependable, and loving characters as well as their camaraderie.
Of course, I have to talk about the romance. Slow-building and lovely, the main love story is not the focus of the novel, but it is a wonderful addition. Though it goes against all of Fable’s rules, it is obvious from early in the story that she has feelings for the mysterious captain West. He purposely pushes her away and refuses to let her get close, as he lives by the same rules as Fable:
Keep your knife where you can reach it. Never, ever owe anyone anything. Nothing is free. Always construct a lie from a truth. Never, under any circumstances, reveal what or who matters to you.
They both know that revealing their feelings for each other could be used against them, so they fight their feelings. This makes for some fabulous tension between the two. Plus, Fable and West are both strong and stubborn, and they butt heads a bit. I love the slow build-up of this relationship and cheered for this couple to reveal their feeling for each other. One of my favorite scenes in the novel is when Fable dives with West. They experience the joy of sea-life together before finding what they dove for, and it is vivid and sweet and completely swoon-worthy.
There are strong messages about the immense power of love woven throughout the story, not just with Fable and West, but with another couple in the crew, and with the relationship between Fable’s parents. One of the only admirable qualities of Saint is his all-consuming love for Fable’s mother Isolde. Fable describes Saint as a man, “who loved my mother with the fury of a thousand merciless storms,” and her mother as a woman who, “had loved Saint with a fire that could set fire to the sea.” Saint and Isolde shared a beautiful and passionate bond, one that Fable speaks of reverently.
In addition to the dynamic characters, the world-building is one of the highlights of the novel. I know next to nothing about boats, diving, or sailing, and I easily understood and visualized this fascinating world. Young describes the ruthless and power-driven society of traders and pirates. The skewed social system, the political treachery, and the complicated history of this unique world are all vividly described without taking over the story. I think this says a lot about Adrienne Young’s skill as a writer. Her use of imagery and sensory language, as well as her all-around fantastic writing style, made me as immersed in the story as Fable is in her surroundings when she dives down to the bottom of the sea. I felt like I was on The Marigold with Fable and the crew, the sun on my face, the salty sea air thick with the promise of a swashbuckling adventure.
Fable is a cutthroat adventure on sea and land where danger lurks everywhere and trusting anyone could kill. The poignancy of the names (Saint, Fable, Isolde), the themes of love, family, and finding oneself, the writing, the character development, the imagery – it’s all fantastic! This is a wonderfully layered novel, and I love that Fable’s story made me feel all of the feels. And that ending!!! I can’t even!!! It is an excellent cliffhanger ending for an excellent story.
Thanks so much to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The characters. Fable, West, the crew, Saint, even Isolde – all of the characters are so dynamically developed!
- The world-building.
- The high-seas adventure.
- EVERYTHING! I liked absolutely everything about this book!
And like the turn of the wind before the most unpredictable of storms, I could feel that everything was about to change.
He looked at me with a hundred stories lit behind his eyes.
He held me. So tight. Like he was keeping me from unraveling. And he was. Because the kiss broke open some dark night sky within me filled with stars and moons and flaming comets. That darkness was replaced by the blazing fire of the sun racing under my skin.
She was the sun and the sea and the moon in one. She was the north star that pulled us to the shore.
I recommend this book to readers who enjoy young adult stories with amazing characters and a richly layered story. Plus, PIRATES!