Orbit. (Drowned World, Bk. 1). Feb. 2024. 448p. ISBN 9780316564922. pap. $19.99. FANTASY
DEBUT Tiankawi is a city partially submerged in flood waters. It presents itself as a safe haven for humanity, guarding the elite from the sea creatures, or Fathomfolk, who live in the waters below. The folk who do mingle with humans face relentless prejudice, living in poverty and plagued with gill-rot from the polluted waters. Tiankawi’s gilded facade is just that, however. As revolutionaries begin to push back against the social injustices, fed up with concealing their gills and shifting their bodies to resemble humans, they begin breaking into the ranks of Tiankawian society, some in secret and some legitimately—and the glittering guise begins to crumble. Chan beautifully crafts a fantasy that hits close to home as it delves into topics like environmental crises and extremist groups. This is a unique read, deftly blending Chinese and British folklore and mythology and pulling readers into a singular world.
VERDICT Chan offers readers a gorgeous first novel in the “Drowned World” series, chock full of political intrigue, complex family relationships and secrets, hot romance, water dragons, sea witches, sirens, kelpies, and more. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy Fonda Lee’s “Green Bone Saga.”
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