3.5 out of 5 stars
A steady, satisfying sail along with a very efficient author.
Adrienne Young has a signature simple writing style that I really enjoy. As in the Sky in the Deep (4.25 stars) series, her plots have more than enough action, but they’re stark in contrast to the many novels that try to tell three or four full stories. Young chooses the best and sticks with it. When her A plot touches a B plot, there’s always true relevance. The smaller plot is often quickly absorbed, but not lost. it’s very efficient, enjoyable writing.
Fable is a girl. Her mother worked aboard a ship, her father was the captain. When her mother died, Fable’s father marooned her on a cutthroat island to scrape out a living of her own at the age of 14 or so. As scary YA heroines always do, she managed. And 4 years later when the urgent need to escape arose, she talked her way off island aboard the Marigold, a ship likewise run by teenagers. Because that happens.
In Book 1, Fable struggles to join the crew – until, of course, shared close-calls bond them as tightly as any family. They have adventures. She contributes greatly to these. She has secrets. Finds out why her father did what he did. Other people have secrets. She finds those out too. Nothing groundbreaking happens here, but the plot bobs merrily along the ocean trade routes and around the dodgy port cities where the Marigold works. There’s a handsome boy, a sassy girl, an emotionally unavailable adult. Again, nothing new, but everything enough. Young’s seafaring world is convincingly detailed but not overly complex, matching the tone of the book. It made me want to buy salty texture spray for my hair.
Book 2 ends the series, as it should. Young confidently sticks to the duology here, where other writers might drag it into a third book. No need. In Namesake, the mystery of Fable’s past deepens, and the adventures of the Marigold attain far-reaching importance. Young doesn’t bog it down with politics, but her world building is clear and convincing. While Book 2 lacks some of the whimsy of the first installment (hence the 3 stars, down from 4), it never gets boring. It never grasps for more than it’s been, like some novels seem to realize they’re running out of gas. Namesake gives a fun, satisfying conclusion to a solid story.