Child of a Hidden Sea: Review

July 17, 2014 2014, 3.5 star books, adult crossover, fantasy, Kim 40 ★★★½

Child of a Hidden Sea: ReviewChild of a Hidden Sea by A. M. Dellamonica
on June 24, 2014
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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One minute, twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa is in a San Francisco alley trying to save the life of the aunt she has never known. The next, she finds herself flung into the warm and salty waters of an unfamiliar world. Glowing moths fall to the waves around her, and the sleek bodies of unseen fish glide against her submerged ankles.

The world is Stormwrack, a series of island nations with a variety of cultures and economies—and a language different from any Sophie has heard.

Sophie doesn't know it yet, but she has just stepped into the middle of a political firestorm, and a conspiracy that could destroy a world she has just discovered… her world, where everyone seems to know who she is, and where she is forbidden to stay.

But Sophie is stubborn, and smart, and refuses to be cast adrift by people who don't know her and yet wish her gone. With the help of a sister she has never known, and a ship captain who would rather she had never arrived, she must navigate the shoals of the highly charged politics of Stormwrack, and win the right to decide for herself whether she stays in this wondrous world . . . or is doomed to exile

This is the story of a lost girl. Both literally and figuratively. Sophie is adrift in the course of her life, stuck in that sort of early 20s purgatory, and living in the shadow of her adopted family’s academic genius. On a mission to track down her birth mother Sophie gets more than she bargained for when accidentally stumbles upon on an assassination attempt with people from another world. When Sophie accidentally travels back with them she discovers there’s more to her history than she ever thought possible.

I enjoyed the plot. The political machinations and the mysteries at the heart of the story are twisty-turny and thoroughly absorbing.   This is fun political fantasy. And even though this is actually an adult book it has such a spirited MG feel. It’s a high seas adventure! There are pirates! And magic! There are even moments of grotesque horror akin to the mutants found in World After. I just love a tinge of creepy in my fantasy!

The magic is one of my favorite magical systems I’ve come across. It’s inventive and has established, easy to follow rules. The world building in general was great. We may or may not be a on a future Earth. Or it could be just a parallel Earth. There are many similarities but way more differences. I actually enjoy that we don’t get an answer on what exactly Stormwrack is as it leaves room for exploration in the future books. But the many, many seafaring nations of this world, and its societal rules and politics, are laid out in such a thorough but entertaining way. It takes serious skill to make political fantasy world building fun to read.

And really, one of the best things I can say about this book is that I was constantly entertained. Political fantasy is often very dry, but this really is such a delightful read. A lot of this has to do with how just plain entertaining it is to be in Sophie’s head. Her quirky charm saturates every page and she has the sort of silly internal conversations with herself that I often find myself doing. Conversations like this:

Dear Miss Manners, Sophie thought. The obnoxious but cute boy my half sister likes just bought me a tortoise shell full of dead flowers. Now she’s all hosed at me. What do I do?

In fact, the characters are really what made this book for me. Sophie is a charming, seriously weird, sassy, snarky, funny protagonist. I don’t usually come across characters as unique and refreshing as Sophie. She has a natural curiosity and scientific mind that helps her twist out of some tricky situations. And she has such a good, good heart. It’s just a pleasure to spend time with her. Her relationships with her brother and sister are so heartwarming and you know what a sucker I am for sibling relationships in books.

And there are such fun details. Someone magicked a stone giant into existence just to swim the seas. If you ever spot the giant it’s good luck. A jolly giant just roaming the seas bringing luck to those who spot him! Delightful! Oh, and super creepy moments like this:

“That’s–” Sophie said. “That’s a skull.” “It’s my father,” Dracy said. “He had his teeth scripped to shine as the sun. The intention survived his death.”

As always with me, what held me back from enjoying the book more was the romance (or lack thereof). There is a lot of potential for a certain couple here, but I’m afraid it never came to much more than shyly skirting around an attraction to each other. Still, I think things are definitely leaning a certain way for future volumes and I am in eager anticipation of that! Parrish is a dreamboat. Handsome, kind, stolid, and giving out smiles but sparingly. You know how I love my stoic captain (yes he is a captain!) types.

This book could easily be a standalone but I’m glad it’s not. The world is so expansive and interesting and there is so much to explore. We’ve still only seen a small corner. I can’t wait to see the further adventures of Sophie & co. And especially so if we get see some development in the romance department. You know how I’m hopeless like that.

This is fantasy that would actually make a great beach read. Perfect summertime fantasy. A story of a girl lost finding herself.


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An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.


kim teal









40 Responses to “Child of a Hidden Sea: Review”

  1. Danielle Binks

    Thank you for addressing the romance in this book (or lack thereof, as you say). When I saw the cover and read the blurb I was sure it would be a great romantic high seas-adventure … but then nobody mentioned or raved about that aspect and I became hesitant.

    Great review.
    Danielle Binks recently posted…‘Her Best Friend’ by Sarah Mayberry

    • Erica

      I second this notion! I saw this shelved at B&N and was attracted to it right off the bat (beautiful beautiful cover). I tend to lean towards stories with romance and finding Kim’s wonderful review, now I am eager to dive into the story, regardless of the lack of romance (but, I do hope that there is one in the future!).

  2. Anya

    Oo, I definitely need to try to fit this in still. I skipped it because I just didn’t have time before it came out and had lost excitement about it, but I love all those things plus I’m of course opposite on romances so it may be just perfect for me ;-) A great excuse to go buy a pretty hard cover >.>
    Anya recently posted…Fan Art Up! {July 2014 Roundup}

  3. Melliane

    Oh it’s nice! I saw the cover around but I think it’s the first review I read and I confess I’m curious you make me want to try it as well, I want to see the magic too! great review!
    Melliane recently posted…Cinder by Marissa Meyer

  4. starryeyedjen

    Oh, wow, thanks for putting this book on my radar! It sounds perfect for me! I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this book before. Magical world, handsome captain, a hysterically entertaining MC? What’s not to love? I must make time for this novel soon! And thanks for including the quotes…getting a glance at the writing beforehand always helps.
    starryeyedjen recently posted…{Audiobook} {Adult} Review: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

    • Kim

      Yeah happy to! And I know. I heard “handsome captain” and I’m done. Though I do tend to prefer the “of the guard” variety. Still this one served just fine, hee. :) I agree, and especially with this one since it was so much, er, quirkier and different, I thought a taste of the writing style would really help on making a decision. So happy to hear you think you’ll like it! :D
      Kim recently posted…Discussion: Favorite Fictional Foods!

  5. Larissa

    Omg. My first thought is that the cover is gorgeous! AND THEN PIRATES IS THIS A PIRATE BOOK?! Then I read the summary and learned it was more of a time travel sort of deal. It still sounds just as awesome as pirates though, the plot in this would definitely entice me to read it. The fantasy creepy and political elements also sounds SOOOOO INTRIGUING TO ME OMG. I don’t think I’ve connected with a plot description in awhile but wow. I neeeeed this story. The world of Stormwrack also seems to be quite well developed, and I find these new worlds we encounter in books just fascinating to explore on a deeper level.

    The main character definitely sounds like a lovely breath of fresh air (: Her narration sounds just so enjoyable to read, from the quotes you’ve given anyway. I’m actually okay with a lack of romance, lol sometimes I feel like I read too much romance and it’s nice to have a break. I do like that the potential for romance is there though.

    Lovely review Kim! I’ll be definitely reading this one and couldn’t have added it faster to my TBR than I just did.

    • Kim

      Oh nooo I hate to disappoint! While there are pirates in this book it is not really a pirate book. The main character and her cohorts aren’t pirates-they’re actually fighting against pirates. And maybe it’s time travel? Maybe it’s space travel? Maybe it’s parallel universe travel? We don’t know yet but I think the mystery is fun. It’s definitely not Kansas. :p

      I’m happy to see that this sounds *exactly* up your alley, though! If this book is calling to you I am confident you will 100% love, love, love it. Sophie is just so delightful and such a strange gal. I find it rare that someone so delightfully weird is featured as a main character. It’s awesome. You’ll like the definitely like her if you like the little snippets I already provided. And yeah, I can understand romance burnout (I think) but I just always want moreeeeeee. Never enough for me! :p

    • Kim

      Awesome! Yay! I’m glad I could bring it to your attention! I just love knowing I’ve helped put the right book into the right hands. :)

    • Kim

      Yeah, something is definitely in the pipeline! I only wish it came down that pipeline a little bit sooner. But I can be patient wand wait for the next book, I supooooose. :p Sophie really is great! Anyone who loves quirky, unique, and interesting protagonists should pick this up!

    • Kim

      It has sort of flown under the radar, hasn’t it? I thought I’d do my part and get the word out. :) I know there’s definitely an audience who will looooove this book!

  6. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    I thought this was a MG book! I’m so glad to hear that even if it’s an adult book it still has a nice MG feel to it. The plot sounds very interesting and the magick aspect has definitely sold me. I was kind of surprised to see 3.5 stars when I was expecting at least 4. Nevertheless, great review, Kim!
    Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms recently posted…Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

    • Kim

      You’re not the first person to say that! The cover is rather MG, isn’t it? It’s definitely adult, though! I guess I can be a bit weird with ratings. With me if there isn’t either some sort of heartbreak or a strong romantic plot line it’s hard to break above the 3.5. I really, really enjoyed it, though. It’s just good fun!

  7. Carina Olsen

    But.. no romance? :( In an Adult book? HOW UNFAIR, lol :D I’m glad you liked the book; but sorry you didn’t love it. I do love that cover. Prettyyy. But omg. It isn’t a MG book? I thought it was, hih. I have not read the summary, though. Thank you for sharing. <3 Love your review, Kim :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Cover Reveal: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

    • Kim

      I knowwww, right? I mean, there are sexy times in this book but just flings. Not really romance. Booo. I reeeeeeeaaallly liked this book. I thought it was awesome! I just need that romantic component, usually, to really elevate a book for me. And ha, no it’s not MG but it has a MG that was really, really fun. There’s no amateurish aspect to it at all, though.

  8. Savannah

    Ms. Manners!? HAHA! I adore that lady and still read her articles today. Seriously I think the same thing in situations. Like what would Ms. Manners say or do? Anywhoo, sounds like an awesome book.
    Savannah recently posted…Friday Freebie

    • Kim

      Haha I know. I just loved how Sophie composed internal letters to other people/herself. I do the same thing all the time. It’s just fun to find a kindred spirit in books!

    • Kim

      I know I know. The weird thing with me is if there’s no romantic element it’s realllllly hard for me to *love* a book. It’s like a disease. I *need* a ship. That’s what really elevates a book in levels of enjoyment for me. Everything else about this was great and so fun!
      Kim recently posted…Child of a Hidden Sea: Review

  9. Pili

    Fantastic review, Kim! Once again you’ve sold me on the book, and even more when you said that there’s barely any romance in it! My poor broken heart really can do without too many romantic trepidations in books!
    Polical fantasy with witty characters and loads of adventure, I’m so IN!! *adds to TBR list*
    Pili recently posted…Friday Reads: Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones!!

    • Kim

      Thank you, dear Pili! Haha I know what you mean. Sometimes you just need a break from…heartbreak. Yeah. None of that here! Just fun, winsome adventures! Hooray! I hope you’ll enjoy it. It’s perfect bead read fantasy which is a thing I certainly never envisioned myself saying.
      Kim recently posted…Child of a Hidden Sea: Review

    • Kim

      I know! I was so delightfully surprised by how weird she was. She just put herself out there all or nothing. Take her as she is, you know? It was wonderful.

    • Kim

      Yes happy to do so! It’s such a delightful read. Spending time in Sophie’s head is too fun.

  10. Nikki

    Sold. This sounds so good! I love pirate stories, I love the fact the MC isn’t a teenager, and the plot actually sounds very interesting. I just wish there were more stand alone books out there now a days. It just doesn’t seem like anyone can or will write a single story anymore, which makes me sad because I’m much less likely to read series now just because of how many I’ve read where it really should’ve only been one book, not a trilogy.

    • Kim

      I was actually surprised that this was a trilogy since adult books are usually standalone. It can definitely read like a standalone if you want it to be, though! An adult fantasy standalone I really enjoyed this year was THE GOBLIN EMPEROR by Katherine Addison. But anyway, I think you’ll enjoy this one so much you’ll be glad that there are more volumes. And there’s no cliffhanger whatsoever here. Very refreshing.

    • Kim

      Awesome! I can’t wait for you to read it! Ha, I never really imagined adding my “summery” tag to a fantasy book but this one sure qualifies!

    • Kim

      Thank you! It really was a lot of fun to read! I just wished there was more romance action. I’m just really hopeless.

  11. Nikki

    I’ve been dying for a light, FUN adult fantasy for a while, and seriously am dying to read this one. EVERYTHING you described sounds amazing to me! I’m even ok with a slow-burn romance as long as it’s obviously going somewhere *eventually*. Gahhhh. Need this book, hurry up library hold!! D:
    Nikki recently posted…ARC Review: WILD by Alex Mallory

    • Kim

      Yeah, I think the romance in this one is just a matter of time. I’m just all rawr that I have to wait for the next book, you know? But otherwise this is just so fun! I think this is the book you’ve been looking for! *fingers crosses you move right up that library hold list!*

    • Kim

      I knowwww. It all just adds up to awesome. If you’re already familiar with Dellamonica’s style I think it’s safe to say you’re gonna love this one. Can’t wait for you to read it!