Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

-Feat. sea gods, myths and breathtaking worlds

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From award-winning author, Francis Hardinge comes a story of adventure on the wild islands of the Myriad, where all is not as it seems. We follow Hark, a teenage orphan, as his life is turned upside down when he and his best friend discover something deep in the waters of the sea, and he finds himself part of a plan that could bring the Myriad to its knees.

The best thing about Deeplight was definitely the world and setting. The Myriad is such a unique and beautiful world, it took my breath away. Hardinge is a master at world-building, and she wrote a world that was magnificent and deadly, twisted and loved. The gods were monstrous, beautiful creatures that were vividly imagined and stunningly executed. Intertwined with the myths of the gods and the impact they still had on the citizens of the Myriad, the setting for Deeplight could not have been more perfect, awe-inspiring or wonderful.

The story was well-paced and exciting. Secrets and plot twists were revealed through stories told between the people who lived there, which made the world real, vivid and easy to immerse myself in. I don’t want to sound too much like an English Lit student, but it was very well structured. The beginning really established Hark’s world and way of life, and the reveals were hinted at slowly as we built up to the climax. I was captivated all the way along, the plot pushed by the myths and lore of the Myriad.

“Stories were ruthless creatures, and sometimes fattened themselves on bloody happenings.”

Whilst I did like the main character, Hark, I didn’t adore him. The story and world more than made up for the fact that I couldn’t really relate to him, but I think I would have preferred this book if I had really rooted for him. He was just relatively mediocre, and I couldn’t love and connect with him in the way I can other characters. As this was really the only setback of Deeplight for me, I still enjoyed it immensely.

I really appreciated how this fantasy book deeply explored toxic friendships. As someone who has been in my fair share, I so emphasised with Hark and how he dealt with Jelt. He was so sure he loved him, that he would do anything for him, even as Jelt put him down and dismissed him until he needed his help when he would bring up stories of friendship and loyalty, guilt-tripping Hark to step outside of his comfort zone and put his life in danger. It was such a meaningful and real part of the story.

Hardinge’s prose is beautiful, lyrical and emotional. It swims across the page and draws you in with it’s vivid, dark imagery and realistic, witty dialogue. Deeplight is a literary masterpiece that I would absolutely recommend. It will sweep you away to the dark depths of the Undersea, to breathe fear and live among myths and stories, lies and truths. I loved it.

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