Saturday 29 September 2018


And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Rovina Cai  {Reviewed by STELLA}
“Call me Bathsheba,” are the first lines of this inventive novel mimicking another famous story.  Patrick Ness’s And the Ocean Was Our Sky is a stunning wonder of a story. In this inverse Moby-Dick, we are introduced to a pod of whales that hunt man. In this world, the sea is the right way up and our sky is the Abyss. The action takes place in and on the ocean as we travel with the whales. Our narrator Bathsheba is the Third Apprentice under the lead of Captain Alexandra - a fearless giant of a whale, a harpoon embedded in her head, survivor of numerous battles with man. When the pod come across a wrecked human ship, bodies afloat, drowned, it is difficult to tell whether this is the work of man or whale. If whale, it is messy - wasteful - the bodies haven’t been harvested for their teeth nor bone. If man, why? As they approach the ship, a hand clutching a disc protruding from the capsized hull is spied: a hand that belongs to a young man - a prisoner - called Demetrius, and he has a message about (or from) Toby Wick - the nemesis of the whales. Toby Wick, feared and hated by man and whale, is a mysterious and vicious hunter - a legend. None who have seen him live to tell the tale of who he is and the powers he can summon to win every battle. Alexandra, obsessed with overcoming Toby Wick, is determined to fulfill a prophecy - one that has been passed down through generations. The great Toby Wick will be confronted. Demetrius is kept alive under the ocean and Bathsheba is commanded to interrogate him. A relationship builds between man and whale - for centuries prejudice and hatred have reigned supreme between the species, each hunting the other, each having just cause for revenge. Yet Bathsheba is intrigued by this meeting with Demetrius, who is merely a pawn in Toby Wick’s game - not a hunter, not an enemy. As Bathsheba’s loyalty is tested, the pod swim closer to their meeting with the mythic Toby Wick. What awaits them is fearsome and surprising. And the Ocean Was Our Sky is an epic journey for Bathsheba - physically but even more so philosophically and emotionally. Her interactions with Demetrius and the encounter with Toby Wick will change her forever, and the relationship between man and whale will create a new prophecy. This mind-bending story about fear, prejudice, loyalty and legend is brilliantly and beautifully illustrated by Rovina Cai.  It’s a tale for any age much like Ness’s excellent A Monster Calls.   

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