Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig opens in 1774. Nix Song, our sixteen-year-old heroine, is at a market in India bartering for a bird who apparently has mythical powers as a cure-all. Things aren’t going well until her friend Kashmir shows up - and then it all gets a bit more hectic. As Kashmir and Nix land back on board ship, the maps come out and Slate, the Captain, who happens to be Nix’s father, mans the wheel. Then one of the most intriguing elements of this book happens, the description of sailing off one map into another. If you like maps, time-travel aboard a boat called the Temptation, a captain obsessed with getting to 1868 to rescue his life’s love (Nix’s mother), a feisty young woman with ideas of her own, and a charming foil in the character of Kashmir, then this a captivating read. Author Heidi Heilig draws on her upbringing on the island of Hawai'i, and plenty of research into mythologies of the several cultures, seafarers' superstitions and the history of the places the ship visits to create a convincing backdrop to this adventurous story. This is very much the story of Nix, her battles with her opium-addicted and difficult father, her changing feelings for her friend Kashmir, and her desire to drive her own destiny - she’s a brilliant map-reader and can tell which are the best for navigation (navigation across time that is). When an opportunity arises for her to choose her own path, who should she trust: the serious, talented Blake who sees perfection in the island; Auntie Joss, the mysterious healer who oversees the opium den and seems to know Nix’s story better than herself; or her father? There’s plenty of interwoven plots here, complete with romance, gold, quests for power and mythical stories. I’m curious for the next instalment, The Ship Beyond Time, due out later in the year.


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