As per my norm, I try to avoid revealing plot points too much so as not to spoil the book for those who haven’t read it, and instead comment on how much I enjoyed or didn’t enjoy various parts.
So when I recently started following writers on twitter, the cover for A Daughter of No Nation was making the rounds and caught my eye. I also noticed tweets from Alyx and her partner Kelly on some of the other twitter feeds I followed and figured I should check out Alyx’s work, the reviews for Child of a Hidden Sea intrigued me, especially the mentions of worldbuilding, interesting magical systems, and nautical adventure. I also saw numerous mentions of the main character making frequent use of real world examples and slang when interacting with natives of the other world.
Having read the book, I can say that many point are true, but in a positive way for me. The main character does make frequent reference to popular culture touchstones as she comes to grip with being in a whole new world, but it makes sense, because she is trying to keep from losing control in a totally uncontrollable situation. Her only contact with her home world is swiftly removed, and she finds herself shunned by people she knows are her biological relatives.
The worldbuilding is great, with just enough revelations to make you wonder if your suspicions about the great backdrop are right or not, and the magic used is a refreshing change from the normal Tolkien or DnD inspired magic often seen in fantasy. I don’t know if Alyx is also a diver, but if not, she did her research enough to make me feel that she writes with knowledge, and the nautical focus of the setting is well served by her skill and research.
I also felt that the relationship between the main character and her brother was well executed and realistic, each of them a very smart, driven person beholden to their intense curiosity about the world they find themselves in. The main character has her own faults and foibles, but is a very capable expert in her areas of proficiency, without dipping into unrealistic levels of ability.
I especially liked that while there are numerous examples of action and combat, Alyx uses the threat of danger and death deftly, instead of bludgeoning the reader with blood and guts. The main character relies on her wits as much as her physical abilities, as do most of the other characters as well. And she needs her wits to be sharp because she is thrust into a world spanning situation that is way out of her initial depth, having to rapidly learn the various factions and history of the new world so as to decipher what is occurring and how to escape stumbling into danger for herself, or those she cares about.
So if you’re looking for a great read with epic adventure, new worlds to explore, and well crafted dialog and plots, I would definitely give Alyx Dellamonica’s Child of a Hidden Sea a BUY BUY BUY recommendation, and look forward to reading the squeal as soon as possible.