What is that? Oh, you know, that is my love for oceanic settings growing tenfold. I just want to stand on the helm of a ship with the dramatic wind in my hair and the sweet scent of salt surrounding me. Instead I am stuck inside bundled in blankets furiously typing on my laptop while it sleets outside. Magical portal to a fantastical land?? That was your cue!!
No… well, I guess we’ll work on that. I want my own adventure. Does someone want to go in on a pirate ship with me? Currently taking applications for a crew and firstmate. Related: if you had a pirate ship what would you name it?? I’m thinking Sharkbait (because you can never have too many Finding Nemo references in your life).
What is the point of all of my pirate babble, you ask?
- I want to be a pirate
- Fable is a charming tale that just so happens to have pirates.
But this wasn’t your average pirate tale. It was a story about found family, grief, and surviving. I mean, there were pirates (yay!) but it also managed to be so much more. So, without further ado, let’s hop in to the review.
Author: Adrienne Young
Published September 1st 2020 by Wednesday Books
TW: Blood, Child abandonment, Death, Drowning, Grief, Murder, Mutilation, Vomiting
For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.
But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive. (from Goodreads)
Before we hop in, I would like to take a moment of appreciation for the queen of imagery and description, Adrienne Young. The writing was so vivid. I felt the wind on my face and heard the waves lapping on to the edge of the ship. It was glorious. And the ship jargon just transported me to the world along side the characters.
Fable was dumped on an island full of thieves and greedy backstabbers at age 14. By her father. The day after her mother dies.* Which first of all, harsh. The girl literally just watched her mother die and you dump her on an island, leave her to fend for herself, and then tell her she isn’t capable of sea life. Yeah, so parenting is NOT Saint’s forte.
Fable is a fighter, a survivor, and resilient. After Saint just abandons her on this island, she could have very easily put her tail between her legs, but instead she embraces the five golden rules and fights to become stronger.
- Keep your knife where you can reach it.
- Never, ever owe anyone anything.
- Nothing is free.
- Always construct a lie from truth.
- Never, under any circumstances, reveal what or who matters to you.
I really liked how the five golden rules are woven into the story. They help Fable survive by influencing her every decision. There were all she had for such a long time, and you can see how they were ingrained in every choice she makes.
*I have my suspicions about her mother really being dead, but maybe I’m just being overly suspicious. It seems like there is more to that story, especially with the way things ended
I would have loved to see a chapter from West’s perspective because I honestly don’t know what was going on in his head half of the time. He kind of seems like a moody cat that just scowled and brooded half of the time. I didn’t dislike him necessary, I just wanted to understand him a bit more.
That being said, I still liked the romance. I think rule number five (Never, under any circumstances, reveal what or who matters to you) played a big part in the relationship between West and Fable. They are both pretty closed off about their feelings, but the moments they did have are golden.
First of all, confessions that involve admitting you have killed 16 people and telling someone you love them in the same breath hit different. Ok, but in all seriousness, the I’m-broken-and-didn’t-know-I-could-love speech gets me every damn time. This is the type of relationship where they would literally give their soul and left arm for each other. And it is beautiful.
And secondly, Underwater kisses* >>> regular kisses. And I will stand by that. As our good friend, Horatio Thelonious Ignacious Crustaceous Sebastian, so wisely said, “Under the sea / Darling it’s better / Down where it’s wetter.” Spitting actual facts.
*Though I don’t know how they didn’t start choking on water, but details, details. Seriously how does that work?? Inquiring minds want to know.
It took a hot minute to get into it because Fable does have a pretty slow pace. Once I got into the story, I didn’t really mind because it let other elements shine. There were moments of adventure woven into the story, but most of the focus was on the characters.
The crew had solid development and all of the relations and trades were super interesting. The dynamic of the crew slowly festered (ok festered sounds gross, but you get the point) over time was so pure and natural. They slowly built trust and began to rely on each other. Watching that found family dynamic shine, especially for Fable, was hands down the best part of the book.
The ending!! First of all I did not see that coming. If I look back in hindsight I can see the breadcrumbs, but the breadcrumbs weren’t neon light so I wasn’t able to go full Hansel and Gretel. It was cleverly woven in and now I need more ahhh.
If you are a fan of books that are character driven, pirate filled, and featuring the found family trope, then Fable is fo you! I absolutely adored all of the crew and the writing style was utterly transportive. I am counting down the days until I can read Namesake!
Have you read Fable? What did you think?? What would you name your pirate ship if you had one?