The History of a Word 02/07/20
Hark and his best friend Jelt are scavengers on the strange island of Lady's Crave, obsessed with getting their hands on valuable and magical "godware": the physical remains of the terrifying gods that used to dominate their world before they tore each other apart around 30 years ago.
But everything changes when Hark gets arrested and sent to the neighbouring island of Nest, a sanctuary for retired priests. Then, after diving into the Undersea, Jelt starts to transform.
This breathtaking story is so richly imagined and described that it fills the reader's head with startling visions, particularly the visits to the Undersea and the super weird and scary dead gods, including The Hidden Lady, The Glass Cardinal and Greymantle.
Also notable is the wonderful character of Selphin, a girl who cannot hear due to being 'sea-kissed'. Indeed, the whole book has its roots in a letter sent to the author asking if she'd ever thought of including a deaf character in her stories. Selphin is brave and resourceful, and takes a joint hero role with Hark during the second half of the book.
This is not an easy read and therefore would be most suitable for readers over 12, although not because of any unsuitable content. Sophisticated or adult readers may see political allegories reflected in the eyes of the bloated, distorted gods and all the myths about them, but the story also works as a thrilling adventure.
Truly a multi-layered masterpiece, full of heart and soul – and the world-building is to die for.