Fable is a character-driven fantasy novel, and the characters are delightful with their intricate layers created by the repressive world in which they live. When love is dangerous, and lies are the only way to protect anything and everything that matters to you, it will have interesting effects on the psyche. You never know what is real and what is false or believe simply that everything is fake. The pool of people you can trust is tiny, and that creates characters who do not even know who they are, who are scared to be themselves, or who relish in the deception.
Fable is left on an island at a young age by her father, Saint, who is afraid that others will try to use her in order to get to him. He feels the only way to protect himself from this inevitability is to make sure no one ever knows that he has a daughter while taking care of her in secret and from a great distance. He also protects his heart from seeing the resemblance to his late wife daily is something that he would never admit to himself or others. Saint is no saint, just as Fable is no fable, or at least not yet. She is a flesh and blood child who needs her father’s love, not a moral tale.
The character names in Fable fascinate me. They are straightforward and even direct. But there is no apparent connection between the character and their name. Names such as Fable, Saint, West, and Clove feel like they hold a tale that remains to be told. No one has a surname or at least not one that is ever spoken, just a first name, which helps keep those dangerous family connections hidden and speaks volumes about the world in which they live.
The world-building is also kept very deceptively simple. Fable’s world is not a colorful one of opulence or natural beauty. Instead, it is dark and seedy, full of dangers both hidden and out in the open. I love the whole guild and trade system, which controls everything about this world. It is a corrupt system that uses violence to keep control. One must watch their back always. There is no magic, except for the rare ability of Fable’s as a gem sage. Gems make sounds only she can hear. This ability, like everything else, is one she must keep secret for her protection.
Fable holds most of its actual and metaphorical gems hidden below the surface, and this is what left me in awe of this fantasy tale. I love that the intricacies and truth slowly reveal themselves to me but not in any discernible way. There is so much to contemplate and discuss. It is not just a fantasy tale to enjoy and put aside. It will stick with you for a while as the nuances start to unravel into profound truths.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.
As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.
But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.