It’s a rare occasion when I can’t remember the content of a book I’ve read. I speak mostly of leisure reading as I place text books in a separate category. Like most of the population, I will remember what I think is important or enjoyable. Surprisingly however, this book has managed to slip my memory. Before re-reading it I could remember very little about it; I remembered the main character is attacked by pirates, finds the floating island where he learns its secret, there is a girl with incredible skills as a thief and puzzle solver, and that I enjoyed it. So when my wife and I saw it in a used bookstore while in Maine for my birthday, she bought it for me. That was almost two years ago and I have finally been able to re-visit the story. And I’m happy I did.
What sets this book apart in my mind is the detail in which the author, Elizabeth Haydon, constructs her world. I have come to enjoy a book where I don’t get deep into the plot until half way through. This can be dangerous because the reader can be bogged down with too much detail and lose interest in the plot. However, when you drag out the plot in a series of small but important events ending with a climactic moment that initiates the central plot, the scene is set for an active story with purposeful slowness.
Cue Ven Polypheme: the youngest of a long line of shipbuilders, with a dream to sail to new places and new adventures. When the opportunity arises to take the newest ship out for inspection, his chance for adventure is thrown upon him. When Ven and the crew are attacked by pirates, Ven finds himself alone in the ocean until rescued by a ship called the Serelinda. As a guest on board he has the great fortune to see and explore the legendary Floating Island. But as unusual events begin to string themselves together, Ven finds that his chance encounter with the mythological island may not have been chance after all. There are many who search for the island to partake from the water of life found thereon and they are willing to go to any means to find it; even murder.
In a world full of fantasy novels, Haydon writes in a style which both accentuates and diminishes the presence of fantastical powers. The result is similar to the works of Maggie Stiefvater, author or the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy, in that the story almost feels like it could happen. Or in the case of this book, that it did happen, since it takes place in a medieval setting.
This is most surely the first book in a series. The main plot of the story is hinted at in the end of this first installment with the promise of even bigger adventures, but this book is mostly used for the development of characters and plot. I’m not sure how many novels are included in this story but it feels to be set up for a long journey spanning the entirety of Haydon’s fantastical world.