Saturday 9 January 2021


>> Read all Stella's reviews.


{REVIEWS BY STELLA}   Dipping into two quite different teen fantasies has been an excellent way to spend some summer hours.

I’ve had Havoc, the sequel to The Bridge, by Jane Higgins on my shelf for a while. It was great to be back in the world of Southside and Cityside and reconnect with the excellent characters from The Bridge. The tension has been building and Southside is under attack and cut off from supplies. Out of the chaos comes the voice of a young girl, disorientated by an unknown trauma, calling ‘Havoc'. What does it mean and where did she come from? When Nik decides to seek out the truth, with Lanya by his side, they embark on a dangerous journey across the river. Something is happening at Pikerrin Marsh—something not good. Nik’s father is missing and suspicion grows about his loyalty to Southside. As Southside reels from being isolated from work, food and medicine, the underground networks in Cityside are raising their heads. Nik and Lanya are betrayed and Nik is given an impossible choice. Save the South or save Lanya. But what is really going on? Who is the mysterious girl? What or who is Havoc? And why are the wealthy Citysiders leaving for the  Drylands? Even with several years between reading The Bridge and Havoc, I was easily captivated again by this world, the characters and their relationships. This is excellent fantasy for teens with just the right amount of intrigue, action and drama. 

Maggie Tokuda-Hall's debut, The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea, took a few chapters to crank up the gears, but once it got going it was all hands on deck. Flora/Florian is our main protagonist. Orphaned and alone in the world with her brother, they are taken aboard the pirate ship Dove, after proving themselves—a trial by knife! Flora quickly learns to fight, clean the deck and tough it out like the pirates and takes on her boy selfhood to survive in the cutthroat world of piracy. She’s also the sound one in the sister/brother relationship. When the young Lady Evelyn Hasegawa is promised in marriage—much to her annoyance—to an up-and-coming lord on a far-flung island, passage comes in the form of a berth on the Dove. But not all is what it seems on the Dove, and an arranged marriage isn’t the worst thing that’s planned for Evelyn. Meeting Florian changes the path plotted for Evelyn by her parents, who couldn’t wait to be unbridled from their disappointment, and the pirates who have trading in mind. A relationship blossoms between the young people, one that will surprise and eventually delight them both. But there's a long and complicated road towards this delight (be warned—it is bittersweet), twisting and turning in unexpected ways and involving spies on the sea, wealthy imperialists, the Pirate Supreme who seeks vengeance against those that harm the Sea, an ancient Witch on the Floating Island who will reveal more than she intended and The Sea herself and her mermaids who come to rescue those who respect them and curse those who do not. It’s high drama, in turns both brutal and delicate, on the sea with dark magic and gender fluidity. And the ending suggests there will be more adventures to follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment