Series: Fable #1
Source: ARC from publisher giveaway
Published: September 1, 2020
Left years ago by her father on an island of thieves, seventeen-year-old Fable has had to fend for herself. But she has a plan. She is going to work her way off the island, find her father, and reclaim what is hers. But the Narrows is a dangerous place, full of traders who will do anything to destroy their competition. Making it off the island will only be her first fight to survive.
Fable is a fast-paced, action-packed adventure, led by a tough heroine readers will instantly fall in love with. It is set in a fantasy world that feels unlike any other, one where merchant ships control the sea and every choice made could mean life or death. Readers who enjoy morally grey characters, complex political machinations, and tales of the high seas will delight in Adrienne Young’s Fable.
Writing a complex character like Fable can be a challenge. Make her too good, and she is no longer realistic as a thief. Make her too bloodthirsty or hardened, and readers will no longer want to cheer her on. Young strikes just the right balance, giving readers a protagonist who has learned to be hard to survive, but who longs to cling onto the shred of humanity she has left. When she has to fight, readers feel bad for her, even as they hope that she continues to win.
And what a world Fable lives in! Young reveals that world slowly, one piece at a time, as Fable makes her way across the sea. The political machinations of the traders are as complex as any intrigue set in court, and readers will be on the edges of their seats, wondering what will happen next. Does Fable have what it takes to stay in the game? Tantalizingly, Young alludes to even greater challenges ahead as Fable’s world will undoubtedly continue to expand in the sequel.
The main criticism I have of the book is that the romance seems unnecessary, and not well developed. Fable makes much of the need to remain without attachments, as having something or someone to care about only creates a vulnerability for enemies to exploit. Still, I would expect to see her interact a little more with her potential love interest, and to see the unspoken chemistry build. Instead, Fable and her love interest are both so good at hiding their feelings that the romance, when it happens, feels like it was merely included as a standard YA plot device, and not because it makes a lot of sense within the context of the story. Sadly, I can’t be invested in a romance that has no foundation.
The romance, however, is an extremely minor part of the story. The real focus lies on Fable, her fight to survive, and her love of the sea. I was enthralled by Fable’s world, and in love with Fable as a character. The sequel can’t be released soon enough.