REVIEW of Fable and Namesake by Adrienne Young

Survival is paramount, and only the strong survive.

For Fable, a young woman stranded on the island of Jevali, her skills as a diver mean the difference between life and death. Dredging up precious gems from the tropical waters, she sells them to a trader named West, hoping to someday earn enough coin to get herself off this island and back to the scoundrel named Saint who marooned her. A scoundrel who happens to be her father.

When the predatory gang of divers on Jevali threaten Fable, West and his crew reluctantly agree to take Fable across the Narrows. As the prickly crew begins to embrace their newest crewmate, Fable begins to feel, for the first time in forever, that she has found a family. But when Fable finds Saint, the welcome she hoped for, is far from forthcoming. The only thing he offers her is a map to sunken treasure, and as it turns out, the key to her inheritance has been with her all along. Heartsick at yet another rejection by Saint, Fable sets out with West, to claim a treasure that can give new life to them both–but rival traders in the Narrows have other plans for the daughter of a sinner like Saint.

In Namesake, the second book of the duology, a kidnapped Fable is carried across the Unnamed Sea. Will West and his crew come for her? Does West actually care? Ghosts from Fable’s past continue to emerge as secrets are revealed about both her parentage and her powers. Through it all, she must confront the reality that West is as bound up in her father’s schemes and deceptions as she is. Trader? Pirate is more accurate. Can she count on Saint even a little bit, or is he the reason for the mess she’s in? Can she still trust West when such darkness lies inside him?

When the most powerful merchant in the Unnamed Sea offers Fable a position at her side, Fable must decide whether to cut line with her past or make peace with its imperfections. In the end, she discovers that she is both her mother’s and her father’s daughter, with the powers of both to forge her own destiny.

This book is not so much a romance as it is the story of a girl and her father. (Spoiler alert!) The book begins with Saint refusing to let Fable ever tell anyone about their relationship. The book ends with Saint claiming Fable in front of the whole trade council. West, Fable’s romantic interest, is in some ways just a cipher for Fable’s father, a window through which Fable can look to understand how her mother Isolde could have ever loved Saint. Although many of the plot points of the story were easy to guess ahead of time, the gradual revelations about Fable’s past were skillfully done.

Although this duology is not as violent as Young’s Viking-based fantasy books (Sky in the Deep and The Girl the Sea Gave Back) there is still a fascination with violence that, I think, leads to a glorification of it. Similar to the popular mafia heroes of many new adult series, the folk of the Narrows are willing to do whatever it takes (even murdering the innocent) to protect their loved ones from harm or insult. In keeping with many modern YA trends, this story has an LGBT relationship with two of the secondary characters and a sexual relationship between the romantic leads.

Immersive world-building continues to be a hallmark of Adrienne Young’s prose, and the gripping storyline makes this duology even more compelling than her last series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’d only been fourteen years old when he dumped me on the infamous island of thieves, and I’d spent every day since scraping together the coin I needed to go and find him. After four years, I wondered if he’d even recognize me when I finally showed up knocking on his door. If he’d remember what he said to me as he carved into my arm with the tip of his whalebone knife.

But my father wasn’t the forgetting kind.

Neither was I.

Fable, by Adrienne Young

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