DEEPLIGHT, by Frances Hardinge, Harry N. Abrams, April 14, 2020, Hardcover, $19.99 (young adult)
Billed as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea meets Frankenstein, Frances Hardinge’s Deeplight is an engrossing fantasy adventure that you won’t want to put down.
Decades ago, the gods of Myriad waged battle against each other. None survived. Now the people of Myriad are obsessed with leftover bits of the gods called godware.
Hark is in the survival business. He survives by making money. Sometimes it’s by selling bits of actual godware, but mostly it’s by conning people into buying knockoffs. And most of the time, he does that business with his best friend, Jelt.
When Jelt comes into possession of a diving capsule, he insists the duo’s problems are solved forever. Together, they can collect enough godware from the ocean to live comfortably. When something goes wrong with a dive, Hark finds himself desperately trying to save Jelt, even if that means using a pulsing piece of godware.
Hark manages to save Jelt at great cost. The pulsing godware is alive. It’s not just a broken shell — it’s the Hidden Lady’s still-beating heart. The heart is calling out. A new god wants to be born, and everyone from smugglers to military scientists to a secret fanatical cult all want a piece of it.
Hark is torn. Instead of saving Jelt, the heart seems to be transforming him. Soon, Hark finds himself in the impossible position of who and what is worth protecting.
In 2016, I read and fell in love with Hardinge’s The Lie Tree. Every time I see a new book from the author, it goes on my wish list. Deeplight was no different. I enjoyed it just as much.
Deeplight isn’t a book you necessarily fall into. Rather, you slowly immerse yourself, taking on each element of Hardinge’s prose a layer at a time. Here, you get a true sense of an author truly adept at their craft. There’s a tension throughout, giving and taking as the pace ebbs and flows. It creates a different kind of reading experience where you can luxuriate in every element from the landscape to action sequences. Everything feels complete.
Deeplight was not a particularly fast read — something that I didn’t mind in the least. I finished wanting for nothing other than another book from this fantastic author.
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