Title: Song of the Current
Author: Sarah Tolcser
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury Australia in exchange for an honest review.
Song of the Current is a beautiful dedication to the miracles of small things, the magic of voyages, and the infinite potential out on the open ocean. The writing conveys beautiful and vivid imageries, and I loved the interplay between swashbuckling privateer action and the subtle influences of magic.
Caro dreams of one day hearing the whispers of the god at the bottom of the river, an event that will seal her fate as the next captain of Cormorant – the Oresteia family’s wherry. The river god speaks in the language of tides and reeds, and his words remain elusive to Caro. Events at the start of the book incapacitates Caro’s father, and forces her to embark on a new adventure and find destiny among the river currents and beyond.
There is so much to love about Song of the Current, but top of my list is our gutsy protagonist, Caro. I adore ambitious protagonists who drive their story forward, and Caro is constantly propelling the plot with her questions and her actions. Her no-nonsense attitude towards mansplaining, whether it be from figures of authority or potential love interests, had me cheering several times. She’s not without faults, often acting rashly and out of preconceived notions – but she’s a character that’s dynamic and constantly growing throughout the book. I also loved Caro’s conflict between her loyalty to her father and the Cormorant, and the temptation of the open ocean and a life beyond the one she has dreamed up.
I also loved the multitude of prominent female characters within the novel. My favourite is Caro’s Ma, she’s calculating and ambitious – and like Caro she refuses to fit into a mould. I also adored Fee, the frogman who helps Caro in navigating the riverlands by using her superior senses. There’s an immediate camaraderie amongst the female characters within this novel, and I loved all the mutual respect we see between the ladies within the novel.
Speaking of characters, I also enjoyed the development of Tarquin’s character throughout the novel. Hate-to-love romantic trope, along with all of its accompanying bantering, will always be a weakness of mine. The chemistry between Caro and Tarquin was palpable from the beginning, whether she’s threatening him with her pistol or sharing a more intimate moment. I also loved how the novel addressed the issue of consent, something that’s often dismissed in other YA romances (I curse the stolen kisses trope!). Caro and Tarquin’s relationship forced then to confront their individual prejudices and we could see them grow individually through their developing bond.
The world building in this novel is a little bit of a mixed-bag. I was most impressed with the details that went into describing the mechanics of ships and sails, and while a lot of it went over my head – I could see that the author truly loved ships and sea adventures. I enjoyed the hint of the wider world beyond, even though most of our adventures strictly took place on water during this novel. There’s plenty of political manoeuvrings within the novel, but the motivations and characterisation of the villains were decidedly one-note. Similarly, while there were plenty of glimpses of magic, we never got to see it in action. The ending of the novel leaves me hope that there will be more of this world for us to discover within the next instalment.
If you’re looking for an entertaining fantasy filled with vibrant characters, this is definitely the book for you. There are few other YA fantasy that manages to incorporate ships and pirates in such a bold and captivating manner.