Book Review

Moon Reads: Fathomfolk

Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

Nothing is perfect, and as such, the reviews in this blog are chaotic. My main aim is to share my thoughts, joy and opinions on a book, not make a publication perfect review. This blog endorses authenticity, showing up and joy over perfection.

Disclaimer: Receiving a review copy from the publisher does not affect my opinion of the book. If you think I review it highly it is due to me knowing my taste well and therefore not requesting books I won’t enjoy. And I am not obligated to review the book if I do not like it, so you may not see bad reviews due to me preferring not to hype down a particular book. I only do reviews of books I disagreed with if I think it is worth bringing a topic or warning to light.

♪ Under the sea, under the sea ♫

But not fully under the sea, but rather, in Tiankawi, the beautiful towering city that exists on the top of the slum, trying to escape the flooded situation.

Fathomfolk comes at you with the punches in a political and contrasting story that gives us two heroines, Mira who is a half-siren that most definitely does not use her siren abilities for reasons (including that the fathomfolk, or those that are not fully human, are looked down on and end up in the slums of the city) and that has been doing her best to prove that fathomfolk are not bad and can coexist and be at the same level as humans; and Nami, who is a dragon fathomfolk princess on her “I know better than my elders and everyone else” phase who is here to solve everything perfectly.

They both have the same goal, tackling the inequality and issues of Tiankawi, but their approach is polar opposites. While Mira believes there are ways to work with the system and make the system better, Nami is a firm believer in dismantling it, explosions and chaos included because the approach others are taking is not bringing the results immediately. So when things start coming to a head, they also come to a head and have to figure out what they truly want and how to achieve, and maybe cooperate on it.

I gave this four foxes because for my normal reading tastes, this a a little more political than what I like (but that is a Moon issue, not a book issue) however I still enjoyed it. The world-building is fascinating and I could see myths, legends, and stories woven through it. It was fun to find this new world and yet find “familiar” concepts that you can take and go “oh yes, that makes sense”. The city and characters all have many layers of complexity and that was refreshing to see even if at times it meant having to keep track of things. The hardest part for me was to figure out the city and where everyone was, as I kept feeling lost in locations and places, and I do wish there was some kind of “map” or a better city idea I could’ve used as a visual.

The other thing is that we have a variety of approaches and ages in our characters and the points of view we get (there are actually more characters that have a point of view, which when I first encountered them it confused me but slowly I warmed up to it). So it isn’t just a teenager in her know-it-all phase (Nami), but we also get someone who is doing her best at trying to be an adult and making life work out (Mira) including taking care of her mother, and we also have other points of view with varying ages (to avoid spoilers for now). Overall, you get many views and flavours of the city and of how things affect those groups and ages.

Then we have the themes of the book. One that comes to mind that may not be the “obvious” one is family and the complexities of it. What we do for our families, how you get your chosen family and relationships can work, and the fragility of bonds but also the strength of them. Of course we have the impact of human choices and a view of specism/racism, and what power can do and how it can corrupt. We also encounter a lot about owning our choices and the consequences of that and sometimes we think we know best but we focus too much on our own viewpoint and sometimes it is worth looking out.

Overall the story captivated me so much that I overexcitedly wanted to scream about this book a month before I was meant to. Don’t miss out on this story!

Fill this sky with stars...