Before I get into this, I feel as though I should highlight that this review will include major spoilers, SO BE WARNED. I received this book through a young adult book subscription service, here in Australia, called The YA Chronicles (which, side note, please go check them out, they are seriously amazing, I’ll leave their social media deets below), for the July Month, “To The Seas”. The box was epic, and I saw this book, and read the blurb and thought, yes, finally a female pirate story!! I was completely ready to be bombarded with feelings of confidence, badassery, and all-round female awesomeness.
But, it fell short. It took me a month and a day to finish this book, which if you know me, is actually an eternity! I just could not, for the life of me, get involved with the narrative, with the characters and with the created universe. It had so much potential but fell flat for me. Honestly, I would only recommend this book because of its ending. The last few chapters were the absolute strongest, where Caroline Oresteia (Caro) seems to grow as a character, and where the excitement actually coalesces. The journey to get there, however, was a long one that felt dreary and dull. Again, this review is in the ‘vlog’ style, so you will literally be privy to what I was thinking as I was reading this book.
It is now 9:14 in the pm on the 29th of July, 2017, and I’ve just completed chapter one. My first impressions:
* wow, there is potential
* I love Fee
* A ship only of women HELL YEA Captain Brixton.
* a sea god? Although ancient as Poseidon, the way the Old Man is described, the connections between the sailors and the sea, is written almost poetically.
* Caro is an interesting protagonist who dearly loves her dad but envies the way he and Fee are connected with the ‘song of the current’.
* The sea almost talks to those who are anointed? More information will be given I’m guessing.
* The black dogs sound like a boy band full of white dudes in a fraternity who think their ‘street’. But PURE EVIL. Which yes, frat boys.
July 1st: chapter two – chapter nine
* What’s in the crate!?
* Oh god, I knew they’ll end up confronting the black dogs, goddamnit!!
* I still love Fee
* Protagonist is a kickass woman of colour
* HAHAHA CASUAL PEOPLE-SMUGGLING IN A CRATE.
* Later mentioned that people do travel in crates but it’s not the most ‘comfortable’ way to travel. No shit.
* The dude has light blue eyes because of course he does.
* A blueish cast to his skin…interesting. He has curly hair, I repeat, of-fucking-course.
* Ear-pierced? RICH IM CALLING IT.
* THE BOX WAS enchanted TO KEEP HIM ASLEEP, so magic exists in this world by Shadowmen.
* He claims his name is Tarquin Meridios and his accent showcases that he is from the north (I AM SUSPICIOUS)
* He is obviously a royal heir or something I’m calling it now.
* I’m not too sure I LOVE the way it’s written at the moment I don’t know how to properly explain it, it feels as though there isn’t much flow. There is a jagged feel to it.
* Ok, Caro is seventeen and captaining a ship, hmm.
* The universe or the world has its own history, making it seem much more three-dimensional.
* Shadowmen descended from the god of the night – I am interested in this!
* Tarquin: haughty, vain, kind of annoying, classist – product of being a spoilt ROYAL I SWEAR HE IS.
* “Ayah”? The language of the people but this is literally the only word used? Is it part of a language or just a general colloquialism?
* The Pig Man haha what a great character-a possible God who sells pork.
* “She a bigger, deeper god. The one who steers you” – ” he don’t be fighting her”. The ‘pig’ man to Caro when thinking that she could really use the help of the river god.
* Tarquin has never seen a girl’s knees before OH THE HORROR WOMEN WEAR SKIRTS IN AKHAIA NOT TROUSERS
* Fee, a frogman, eats flies. Frogmen are descended from the river god.
* Ok, so Caro was shot? Or grazed? And it was mentioned like twice or three times? And that’s it? Doesn’t it like hurt? And it was bleeding? Bandaged or nah? Need to re-read this possibly.
* Tarquin has never sailed a boat. Ever. Doesn’t even know where the wind comes from, how dare he.
* Correlation with Ancient Greece and ancient empires -vibes.
* Tarquin doesn’t know how to clean up after himself and is also selfish af. Eating the leftover pork for breakfast THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FOR EVERYONE ELSE AND LAST FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS YOU DICK. What a typical man,
* Democracy is out- “No one is elected in Akhaia’ he said as if it was a filthy word”
* There’s a river called Thrush- coz it flows haha. Why is this funny? I’m actually a twelve year old
* Oh wait- she did bandage her “gunshot wound”. Considering that she’s been in mud and rivers and lakes, you would think that maybe it would’ve gotten infected?
* Ooohhh look Carl’s finally gotten a clue. Mayhap, Tarquin’s real name is not -gasp-Tarquin.
* Ok, so now why would Tarquin go in for the kiss on page 81? There’s been no sexual tension, no witty or flirtatious banter, literally, nothing pointing to interest, only the shock of seeing her knees and not looking at her when she got out of the water because her shirt was see-through, and then BAM imma kiss you?
* Obviously Caro slaps him and pressing the tip of her blade to his back – which in this case I agree with you girl, Tarquin is an entitled dickweed. But if there is a romance element to their relationship, I’m going to be surprised unless Tarquin changes? And if there’s a super invested bonding situation for feelings to arise. I don’t know. I feel as though this story doesn’t need romance, Caro is young.
* Suddenly feeling unsafe “alone with him in the cabin”. Understandable.
* ” the girls I know are girls” Ok. I don’t really like Tarquin as a character and Caro at this moment. There’s nothing substantial to their personalities. I always say this, but there’s nothing to make them three-dimensional. I’m open to change, I’m not even halfway through the book, but it would be very easy for me to stop reading this book and start a new one without any guilt of not finishing or in want to finish the rest of the story to see what happens. That’s my convoluted way of saying I’m not emotionally invested- but ,a year it’s just a slow beginning.
* CONSENT IS IMPORTANT YES
* I don’t really find it necessary for Caro having to, even internally, justify that she is a ‘girl’ who does up her hair and wears dresses and socialises and gossips and plays around with boys. Like, kind of a backward way of describing what it means to ‘girl’. I’m hoping that there is some sort of personal development where she figures out that she can captain a motherfucking boat, wear trousers and dresses and still be all woman. And not play into stereotypes. Now, I think it’s more the attitudes of the “time” but maybe more explanation about the culture and society might be good? It’s like a mix between Ancient Greece and Victorian England.
* Giving him the cold shoulder because that shows maturity. Should’ve kicked him off the boat or give him to the black dogs. IM SORRY IM NOT EMOTIONALLY INVESTED YET. And Caro’s age is starting to bother me I don’t know, everything just seems childish.
* Seriously not liking Tarquin.
* Akhaian = Akkadian-like?
* I’m going to go and read some fanfiction. Bye.
July 3rd: chapter ten-chapter twelve
* Lord Peregrine sounds hot and gasp he called Tarquin “His Excellency,” I TOLD YALL HE WAS A ROYAL HEIR
* Seriously? “My mind spun, buzzing with suspicion…and a rising sense of dread” (97) Sweetie, why you confused? I seriously don’t understand why Caro is confused? I feel as though it’s so bloody obvious that he is a prince, why such a build up? It’s ridiculous if she’s as smart as she’s supposed to be, I’m pretty sure she would’ve concretely figured it out that Tarquin’s story was a bit fishy, to begin with.
* “I’m the Emparch of Akhaia” (99) FINALLY THE TRUTH.
* Draining: “I turned away and walked up the deck, trembling with anger. His betrayal lay like a hard stone on my chest” IS IT REALLY CARO?? You’ve only known him for what seems like a day, and the betrayal is that great? Why did you think the Theucinians are trying to kill him? It seems to fake, this anger. It really doesn’t change the storyline much, so he is now the heir to the Thorne because his oldest brother was killed and so was his father. That really does not either develop or forward the narrative in any major significant way. So why the anger and betrayal Caro? And why would he tell a relative stranger, who didn’t abide by the directives as per her contract for his safety, who has been consistently rude (which yes, Tarquin is a dick I know), but why and how could he in good conscience, tell a stranger who he actually was? Let’s think about this logically, he ran away after witnessing the literal slaughter of his family some by the very people who were employed to protect the Emparch and his family, but Caro is too busy being angry because HOW DARE HE NOT TELL ME. Ugh, grow up.
* Tarquin has released his true identity and name- Markos.
* You’ve already broken your contract, Caro.
* Ok, so Caro is all angry because she claims that she should’ve known everything as it’s been risking her and Fee’s life to protect his. But again, there is no empathy on either side! They both are ridiculously unable to see from the perspective of the other person.
* At least Fee has sense.
* “The truth was I’d never thought much about the consequences of those muskets…but [Markos] was right about the guns-if people had come to harm because of them, I would be partially to blame” (108). You literally are smuggling weapons to Lord Peregrine, who is attempting to cause unease almost the people (although I understand, sympathise and agree with his philosophy) of course there would be harm! I don’t understand this woman! She’s frustrating me to no end! Grow a brain Caro for the Love of God.
* “His smile went through me like a flash” (109) hmm. I just can’t anymore. So contrived at the moment. I am all for the trope friends-to-lovers, god knows how many fanfics I’ve kudosed for that reason- but there was always something/ you know? Emotions, affection, pining SOEMTHUNG.
* I hope to fuck the arrogance was a mask Markos hid behind.
* So the Shadowman of Markos’ father was actually working AGAINST THEM!? Oh wow, I did not see that coming at all. It’s not like everyone somehow knew Markos was in the enchanted crate. I mean, totally did not see that coming.
* The dreams Caro has obviously mean something- foreshadowing or the gods trying to communicate with her.
* I can only handle small bits of this book. I am just getting frustrated so easily! And the writing, I feel like it jumps everywhere and you, as the reader, don’t know where you’re starting from! And you feel as though you’ve missed elements of the story!
July 6: chapter twelve-chapter fifteen
* ok, a bonding moment is happening so I’m hoping this gives this narrative and the characters some sort of emotional element.
* YAS TELL ME YOU’RE ATTRACTED TO MY CAPABILITIES… even though you’ve been condescending and putting those very same capabilities down, but ok!
* Caro’s mum, Tamarè Bollard, sounds epic???
* the Bollards are /loaded/
* Why wouldn’t you want an education, Caro? I’m guessing you’re one of the privileged few who can actually do so and have the means
* the mother is wearing a turban-culture allusion!
* Oh wow ok sure yes, the black dogs just so happened to want to see the bollard family at the exact moment Caro is at her mum’s place having a bath while Markos is still hiding in the wherry. Wow.
* I must have missed something-how did Markos know where to go, to the Bollard house? Oh, so Fee told him. Still, don’t see how that’s feasible
* I’m on page 158 and I don’t like these characters.
August 27: chapter fifteen – chapter thirty-one
* I know; I am a terrible reviewer and reader and person. I had to take a break from this book, so I’ve been reading fan fiction and doing uni homework all this time (I might do some fic recs? hmm…)
* Honestly, I would love to see a relationship development between Caro and her mum, Tamarè Bollard. It is portrayed to be quite nuanced and complex, especially in the reasons concerning Caro’s upbringing and Tamarè’s treatment of her. And it adds dimension to Caro’s character that didn’t exist in the previous chapters!
* “The Bollards care about profit” (p. 170) – Caro is depicting her mother’s side of the family as a selfish, greedy and powerful house. I wonder how true this is? Would a mother as strong as Tamarè, betray her daughter for money? Seriously, the brief amount of time spent describing Caro’s mum is honestly the most interested I have been in this book. There are just so many questions! – “She’s a Bollard first and a mother second” (p. 170); this is so heartbreaking.
* I never really understood the need in comparing girls with each other, in a way that demeans them and perpetuates ridiculous stereotypes of what it means to be ‘feminine’. You can be a strong woman and still faint at the sight of blood, you can be an intelligent woman and still enjoy putting on makeup and getting dressed up – your gender does not /define/ you, it is you who defines who you truly are. It is such a trope and it can be frustrating.
* She’s opinionated therefore she is breaking all the stereotypes! *rolls eyes*
* Cousin Kente is a shadowman…this could be interesting!
* I do however, enjoy all the little moments when, as the reader, you know that the God of the Sea is watching Caro and blessing her.
* I wonder how much of the perceptions Caro has of her mother and the Bollards are from her own mind, and how much is just regurgitated rantings from her father? Her mother literally killed a man for Caro, but Caro believes Tamarè will sell Markos to the highest bidder?
* As villains, the Black Dogs are completely one dimensional and have no depth at all. They’re just ‘the bad guys’, it is exhaustingly dull. And don’t get me started on Cleandros.
* Chapter 21 is where the magic happens, and by magic I mean, the story finally gives us the kicks, bold protagonist we have been hoping for!
* Nereus is actually the most interesting character in the entire book, trust me.
* Tamarè coming through! I knew there was more to her than meets the eye!
* of course, it’s god of the sea not the god of the river! everything makes sense!
* Why oh why did it take so long for the plot to actually become interesting? I feel as though Caro’s character has grown slightly, which honestly, makes the narrative flow better; her decisions and internal dialogue are much more logical! This is what I signed up for!
* Why do villains always feel the need for monologuing? Oh, that’s right, because authors need to show that their villains are not just background, irrelevant characters, but scary-will-kill-you-in-an-instant with features that are meant to slightly humanise them.
* Chapter 25 was gold, absolute gold. Things are moving, information is being given to Caro (and us) and it has made the book ultimately, so much better.
* The ending was adorable – but FEE!! I really hope she isn’t at the bottom of the sea, she was one of my favourite characters!
This was definitely something. But please, don’t let my review change your excitement to read this book! Read it, and let me know what you think! I may have read this when I was in a shitty place emotionally so my opinions may be skewed.
Happy reading y’all!
The YA Chronicles
@theYAChronicles – twitter
@theyachronicles – Instagram
The YA Chronicles – FaceBook