Published by Amulet Books on April 14, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic
Source: Finished Hardcover from Publisher
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea meets Frankenstein
in Frances Hardinge’s latest fantasy adventure The gods are dead. Decades ago, they turned on one another and tore each other apart. Nobody knows why. But are they really gone forever?
When 15-year-old Hark finds the still-beating heart of a terrifying deity, he risks everything to keep it out of the hands of smugglers, military scientists, and a secret fanatical cult so that he can use it to save the life of his best friend, Jelt. But with the heart, Jelt gradually and eerily transforms.
How long should Hark stay loyal to his friend when he’s becoming a monster—and what is Hark willing to sacrifice to save him?
Deeplight is a young adult standalone fantasy adventure by Frances Hardinge. The summary describes the book as Frankenstein meets Twenty Thousand Leagues under the sea. While I think that is a pretty good description, I also think it doesn’t do the book justice. Frances Hardinge is a magical story teller. She can take the macabre and scary and twist the tale into something you simply cannot put down. No matter how creeped out you are. And I was very creeped out while reading Deeplight. By all accounts, Deeplight is a departure from my normal story and genre preferences. There is not a stitch of romance in the book, and very little humor. Instead there are tons of creepiness and plenty of truly scary monsters, and in spite of all of that I found myself totally ensnared by this book. I absolutely loved the story that Frances Hardinge told. Deeplight is a wonderful blend of a monster tale, a fantasy with a fresh, unique world.
Deeplight is told by a male protagonist, which I loved. Hark is born into a harsh world. A sea faring world of secluded islands, and gangs filled with orphans who have to steal to survive. Our book starts out with Hark getting caught and arrested. The crime for an arrest is a period of indentured servitude. (like I said, it’s a harsh world) But the world building and the setup was the most fascinating element of the story in my opinion. I could not get enough of it. In this world, the old Gods were sea monsters. Powerful entities that lived deep within the ocean. But 50 years ago the gods got into an epic battle and destroyed each other. Fisherman and salvage divers have been pulling up God parts ever since because they have great powers within them.
To make the world even more fascinating, there is also the layer of aging priests that served the old gods. They are all elderly and have various conditions from deep diving to commune with the gods. Contact with the god parts affects a person, and Frances did an amazing job describing everything. This is a very complex world and she introduces many players and aspects of the world, and not once did I find myself confused. That is no easy feat, and it really helped to create a rich atmospheric read that held me completely captive while I was reading. Hark is bought at a slave auction and sent to work in the Priests nursing home. I loved this unexpected element of the story. And I loved our main character Hark. He clearly cares deeply about the people in his life, including his friend Jelt.
Watching Jelt transform was eerie indeed. I would have liked even more description of the various stages of Jelt’s transformation out in the daylight. He completely creeped me out, but it was a fantastic element of the story. Overall, the adventure that Hark goes on is so richly fleshed out that I felt in love. This book is not the normal read for me, and I loved it even more than I thought I would. I think everyone needs to read Deeplight and experience the magic that is Frances Hardinge’s world and writing. She is a magical storyteller. This book needs to be made into a movie. I feel like I watched it play out in my brain and I want to see it play out on the big screen. What a fantastic story!
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2020 New Release Challenge
- Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2020