Gods, quests, seafaring adventures…The Isle Of The Gods delivers. This comes with a classic YA fantasy vibe that is both comfortable and familiar and easy to get lost in. Despite being over 400 pages, I flew through this one, and it does have the kind of ending that’s going to leave you hankering for a sequel.
One very interesting thing about it is definitely the world-building. It had this gaslamp historical fantasy vibe that felt reminiscent of our world (in the slang, the dollars, etc) but is still thoroughly a second-world fantasy. Like they have automobiles but also classic old-fashioned style ships. Enter lore and legends and magic systems with elemental spirits and slumbering gods, there is a lot to keep readers intrigued. I also admit my attention got snagged by the boys’ backstories–anyone else really interested in the prince’s school escapades with Keegan and Jude?! Because I would love a book on that.
“It’s not that I thought I’d live forever. I just didn’t expect this kind of advance notice about when I was going to die.”
We have quite a few of narrators, but I would definitely say Selly stole the show. She is your tough-as-bricks sailor girl who just wants to prove her mettle and also ditch life a lowlife deckhand and take her place at her father’s side. Then we have Leander, the sassy flirty prince who is not-so-keen on his destiny that includes a quest to the isle of gods. His old schoolmate (and total nerd) Keegan is an unintentional addition to the adventure. Then there’s Jude, a complicated teen who just wants to protect his family, but is forced to do the bidding of a gang lord. And Laskia, sister of the gang lord, who is helping her sister start a war.
Selly begrudgingly helps Leander on his quest to the gods, outwitting the terrorists who want him dead so they can start a war, there’s also so many chase scenes and fights and epic displays of magic. It also definitely delivers on the sailing and ships part, which was fun, and while they didn’t spend a lot of time with the gods, I was really intrigued when that part rolled around at the end. I think that’ll come out to play in a bigger way in the sequel.
If you’re after a YA fantasy with banter and seafaring journeys and stubborn magic with a tentative romance of yearning, this one is for you!
Thank you to Allen & Unwin for the review copy!
Magic, romance, and slumbering gods clash in the start of a riveting fantasy series spanning gangsters’ dens, forgotten temples, and the high seas from the New York Times bestselling author of the Illuminae Files and the Aurora Cycle.
Selly has saltwater in her veins. So when her father leaves her high and dry in the port of Kirkpool, she has no intention of riding out the winter at home while he sails to adventure in the north seas. But any plans to follow him are dashed when a handsome stranger with tell-tale magician’s marks on his arms commandeers her ship under cover of darkness: He is Prince Leander of Alinor, and he needs to cross the Crescent Sea without detection so he can complete a ritual on the sacred Isles of the Gods.
Selly has no desire to escort a spoiled prince anywhere, and no time for his entitled demands or his good looks. But what starts as a leisure cruise will lead to acts of treason and sheer terror on the high seas, bringing two countries to the brink of war, two strangers closer than they ever thought possible and two dangerous gods stirring from centuries of slumber…
published 2nd May 2023