Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan - Book Review

Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan - Book Review

Review by @elle.cheshire

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is one of those books that doesn’t have a clearly defined plot. None of the characters we follow have a goal per se other than fixing a broken system. The whole book is instead about the injustice and prejudice the Fathomfolk face and the way the different characters try to face it. I have to say It’s not my favourite style, I like to have a more discernible plot/ goal/ aim but this was an excellent depiction of a word and city struggling with deep issues that desperately needed to be addressed.

The story follows several characters; Mira, a half siren who worked her way into a position of power and is determined to make change from the inside. Kai, her privileged dragon partner who has a heart of gold even if he can never quite understand her hardships. Nami, the younger sister of Kai who is full of righteous anger and a need to incite change and Cordelia, a hated sea witch with more secrets and plans than you can count. The cast were all interesting in different ways (Cordelia’s chapters were my favourite) and I liked that the author decided to give us so many different views on the same situation. They all have vastly different experiences and opinions and it shows us there’s no one right way and that every way is flawed. No one can hope to fight it all alone but perhaps together they have a chance of making a difference.

Mira and Nami played the largest roles. Nami is very naive, understandably in some respects - she’s new to the city, privilege as folk go and a step removed from the trials lesser folk deal with (beautifully demonstrated with her friend Dan). On the other hand, she gets easily manipulated by everyone around her and goes into it expecting people to do as she would, Just because they might want the same thing doesn’t mean they would employ the same methods. She believes people too easily and though this worked for her character, though I don’t love the idea being young automatically makes her decisions naive. Overall her storyline was interesting but I didn’t like her as a character until the end, however, in a story like this perhaps that’s not a problem. Her desire to belong and her need to fight to back was well delivered and demonstrated how youthful idealism can affect or be affected by the cause.

Nami’s perspective was a lot more rebatable than Mira’s; the anger and impotency she felt at not being to force change immediately. In comparison, Mira’s view of things was a lot more like pushing a boulder up an endless hill. I admired Mira’s restraint and determination in the face of constant hate and her character felt a lot more hopeful. That’s not to say she didn’t carry her own rage and defeat but I really liked that the author explored the different paths of defiance as well as the flaws of each.

Cordelia’s pov gave us an insight into the machinations happening around the city which I really liked. Again she wasn’t likable but she added a lot of conflict to the story and sowed a lot of chaos (I’m always here for that).

The author brought together all of the plot strands very well at the end though things have been left open for the next book. The ending itself was very unexpected but high tension.

Also a comment on the romance… I would actually say this has almost none? Kai and Mira are together so there is some romance in the sense of two people trying to keep their relationship together under the pressure of it all but its not what I would call a strong romance so don’t go into this expecting lots of romance! It certainly worked fine for this style of book, romance took a backseat though it was there in the shadows. The other ‘romance’ is (I hope) purposefully not okay (gaslighting, grooming vibes) so I’m not counting that as romance.

However I struggled to connect deeply to any of the characters and though they all started strong I lost interest in them all at some point. I think, for me, a clearer plot would have helped immensely. The book is about inequality and social disparity- great - but I needed more. Something to get me hooked into the characters and care that what happened to them. It all got a little lost under the weight of the story’s premise.

Also the concept of Fathomfolk and half drowned cities was very unique though and the world building was great. I just really wanted more of a connection.

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Review by @elle.cheshire

Whisporia Rep

A bit about me… I love all things morally grey and magical! 

My favourite series is Red Rising and I’m sucker for found family. 

I drink way too much tea and live out my fantasy dreams by visiting medieval festivals and doing archery! 

If I’m not reading you’ll find me writing my book or dreaming of far away places.

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