They say don’t judge a book by its cover and the cover for Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan is a beautiful piece of art and the book inside is a strong debut which leaves me wanting to explore the world further so in this case I feel it was warranted!

Welcome to Tiankawi – shining pearl of human civilization and a safe haven for those fleeing civil unrest. Or at least, that’s how it first appears. But in the semi-flooded city, humans are, quite literally, on top: peering down from shining towers and aerial walkways on the fathomfolk – sirens, seawitches, kelpies and kappas – who live in the polluted waters below.

One of the things I enjoyed about Fathomfolk was the feeling we were reading the myths and legends of a place that never was and I liked that vibe, the world building is great and it feels realized and believable, though it took me a bit to get my head round how the world works. There is a beautiful visual tone to the book and whilst reading it got me imagining how it could look on screen and whilst I’m sure it would look great , for now I like the fact it’s how I want it to look in my head.

Great fantasy works best by taking issues that are contemporary and wrapping them in the setting to showcase how universal many issues are and this does  that well, in the same way I’ve felt Juno Dawson’s books have. Cultural identity runs through the book and helps define the characters and having those familiar arguments and thoughts on the page help to realise the fantasy world with one we can recognise.

As always I won’t give too much away but the characterisation is also good and it creates a good window into the world. The plot moves along and has its share of twists and turns that help you to understand the characters, and they grow as the plot does.

I would certainly recommend this if you enjoy modern folk tales and fantasy books, it took me a little while to, pardon the pun, become submerged in the world but when I did I didn’t come up for air until it was finished – recommended and looking forward to more set in this world!

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