Author: Sarah Driver
Series: The Huntress #1
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
In the sky, the fire spirits dance and ripple. Grandma says they showed our Tribe that I’d be a captain, before I was even born.
Ever since Ma died, Mouse has looked after her little brother, Sparrow, dreaming of her destiny as captain of the Huntress. But now Da’s missing, Sparrow is in danger, and a deathly cold is creeping across Trianukka . . .
Sea-churning, beast-chattering, dream-dancing, whale-riding, terrodyl-flying, world-saving adventure. The first book in a stunning new fantasy adventure trilogy, perfect for readers aged 9+ and fans of Philip Pullman, Piers Torday, Abi Elphinstone, Katherine Rundell and Frances Hardinge.
Source: Review copy from Egmont Publishing via Amazon Vine
If you love strange, complicated worlds, then you will probably like this book. Trianukka is a series of islands where the people have split into tribes of land and sea – and also sky, but no one’s seen them for a long time. Our heroine, Mouse, is from a sea tribe, living her life on the ship, The Huntress, where her grandmother is the captain. Throw in ice, unfriendly land tribes and winged monsters, and Mouse’s life is far from dull.
What I loved most, though, was the way magic is in everything – Mouse’s beast-chatter abilities, the moon sprites forming out of drops of moonlight, fire sprites that seem to be connected to auroras (maybe), whale song, dream-dancing and more – there’s so much of it spilling into everything that it’s just seen as normal. None of it is particularly well described, which leaves a lot open to the imagination, but I liked that. I also really liked Joe McLaren’s little illustrations scattered throughout in the margins of whales and sprites and arrows and fish, they definitely added some unique charm.
What I didn’t like so much was the main character, Mouse. She’s brash and scrappy and a bit of a brat, having known her whole life that she’ll take over as the captain of the Huntress one day. She’s pretty arrogant and has no patience and can sometimes be a little foolish. Despite this, her adventure was interesting enough for me to keep reading, because underneath her faults is a strong, determined girl who might just learn from her mistakes one day and become a captain worthy of her grandmother and the Huntress.
It also take a while for the main action to get going. There’s a lot of world to build, which explains some of it, but when trouble arrives it does so in a big way. There’s a lot going on in this book – some mystery, some tragedy, plenty of peril and quite a bit of action – but it’s strung out well enough not to overwhelm completely.
The other characters help with this. Grandmother/Captain Wren is great, a strong leader who does her best to teach Mouse about what it takes to really captain a ship/tribe. Little brother Sparrow is very intriguing. I also liked Crow, although I was frequently confused as to why he and Mouse were arguing and quite how their latest spat started. A lot seems to go on between them that isn’t described – then again, Mouse can be pretty touchy so who knows what sets her off at any given moment?
Overall I enjoyed this. It isn’t perfect – the pacing is a bit uneven at times and the bad guys could do with a little more personality beyond simple badness – but it is interesting. I love the magic and the world, while the plot contains some nice fantasy tropes – missing family members, a quest for magical items, animal side-kick. Young fantasy lovers should find plenty here to enjoy. I personally don’t think it has the complexity, originality or sheer cleverness of Pullman or Hardinge, but it’s still good enough to make me want to read more.
Sea is Out Now.
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