I was first drawn to the glorious cover art, but the world created here is equally intriguing. Pirates and political intrigue in a universe that whispers of historical Japan or China, but at times made me think of islands that might have been painted by Roger Dean, the artist who did all the old YES covers. All very impossible and wonderfully suited to stimulate the imagination. There is a romance and impossible stakes. I’m not sure if Florian would be considered non-binary or trans, but ultimately those are just words – Florian has a journey and we are bugs on the wall for that journey. The relationship between Evelyn and Florian is poetic and somewhat elusive.
At times I found the read frustrating in the way characters seemed to fall into the ocean over and over and still swim to land, whatever the distance. There is a device of course that illuminates that to some extent, but its lack of credibility was at times, distracting.
Ultimately though it was a fun read. The plot took me to interesting places, and the prevalence of gender fluidity in this universe, gave the world a very specific flavor.
A sequel came out in September and the hardbound book should soon be in my hands. (I read many things on Kindle, but if a book seems special, I read a hardbound copy. This book seemed like something to have on a shelf.)
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In a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic, a desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial lady find a connection on the high seas.
The pirate Florian, born Flora, has always done whatever it takes to survive—including sailing under false flag on the Dove as a marauder, thief, and worse. Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, a highborn Imperial daughter, is on board as well—accompanied by her own casket. But Evelyn’s one-way voyage to an arranged marriage in the Floating Islands is interrupted when the captain and crew show their true colors and enslave their wealthy passengers.
Both Florian and Evelyn have lived their lives by the rules, and whims, of others. But when they fall in love, they decide to take fate into their own hands—no matter the cost.
Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s sweeping fantasy debut, full of stolen memories, illicit mermaid’s blood, double agents, and haunting mythical creatures conjures an extraordinary cast of characters and the unforgettable story of a couple striving to stay together in the face of myriad forces wishing to control their identities and destinies.
The Purple Fantastic Steam Meter gives this a 1. Romance hovers in the background, but there is nothing remotely steamy in this story.
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