Link to Goodreads
Published: Feb 2020 Puffin
Illustrated by Manuel Sumberac
Any winner of the Bath Children's Novel Award is going to turn my head. The calibre of writers that are shortlisted for this award is staggering year upon year and so to win it must feel like the ultimate achievement.
Therefore, when I heard Struan Murray's novel, winner of the 2017 award, was being published I pre-ordered it months in advance.
Murray's debut novel certainly didn't disappoint.The set-up grabbed me from the start; an independent female inventor living in the only city left in the world (after The Drowning) saves a mysterious boy who has just emerged from the belly of a beached whale...
yes, there was no question that I wanted to read on!
When Seth is accused of being the new vessel of the enemy, he is sentenced to death. Ellie, knowing the accusations are false is desperate to save him- but she can't do it alone. Suddenly, the clock is ticking and the city is becoming as dark and as dangerous as the sea. Submerged in a deadly game, Ellie must learn from the past to save the future.
This novel sweeps you off your feet and carries you away on a tide that is gripping, thrilling and gothically dark. It is a challenging and intense read, with the main rays of light being the little orphans and the strength of friendship throughout. The plot is highly unique with a mid-way twist that will leave your heart thumping in your chest. The narrative is broken up with diary extracts which add depth and increase tension and the voice of Finn is deliciously enjoyable.
I found it took a little time to warm to the characters of Ellie and Anna and the ending felt left-open, making it not completely satisfying. However, for anyone who fancies immersing themselves in a murky, gritty fantastical world which will throw you around more ferociously than the waves in a stormy sea then this is the book for you. It is a novel which will leave you gasping for air and will stay in your memory long after reading.
Not for the faint-hearted! I can't wait to hear what is coming next from this talented debut author.