Book Review: Deeplight

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
by Frances Hardinge

3.5 stars out of 5 stars
Hark is a conman and a thief. When his best friend, Jelt, convinces him to try a dangerous diving stunt, Hark finds the ancient heart of a dead god and tries to use it to heal Jelt. But the heart is deceitful and begins to change Jelt into a monster.

I liked the deep characters in this book. They are well-written with interesting personalities. The relationships between the characters are deliciously emotional and complex. I especially loved the character development! Several of the characters change and grow and learn. Their relationships change. Their views and beliefs change. It’s wonderful to see the internal journey that they go on, and how their relationships with each other either help or hinder them on that journey.

One thing that I appreciated about this book is that there is not even the tiniest hint of romance in this story. Strong friendships, family ties, loyalty, and betrayal are all included and wonderfully developed, but no romance. A romantic sub-plot would have ruined the story. So glad that it was left out.

I loved the intense world-building for this beautiful fantasy world. The whole magic system with the old sea gods is so intricate and powerful. I loved the history and multiple layers of this world. There are legends, politics, rumors, opposing leaders, and all the complexity of a real world. Gradually we begin to find out the truth about this world, and what really happened to the sea gods, and what is only rumor and legend and what is true. It’s fascinating to watch it all unfold!

The writing style is excellent, pulling the reader into the story. The author uses vivid words and imagery to paint a forceful picture. I really loved the writing.

The only things that I didn’t like about this book were the pacing and the multiple POVs. The pacing is far too slow for a fantasy adventure. It made some scenes difficult to slog through. It seemed like every little thing was stretched out in a long scene, long dialogue, or long explanations, that could have been explained just as well in half the words. The content is good. The writing is powerful. But the pacing is so slow that it ruins the energy and tension in the story. I kept losing interest and putting the book down because I was getting bored with it. Then I started skimming. I ended up reading the first sentence of each paragraph through most of the book, and then reading about half of the dialogue. And I understood everything perfectly well. It didn’t need all that extra. All the extra is good detail and good additions, but it’s just so excessive that it slows down the adventure. Just get on with it! This book could have been 200-250 pages, and would have had much better pacing.

I have a pet peeve with multiple points of view. The main character, Hark, has the POV for most of the book, and then the POV randomly switches to a side character, Selphin. It was jarring to read the scenes from her perspective, and it didn’t really add that much to the book. I would have much preferred to stick with our main character. Or at least make Selphin a more integral part of the story from the beginning and not suddenly jump to her POV in the middle of the book. It broke up the flow of the story in a way I didn’t like. It’s fine. It’s not badly written. I just didn’t like it.

Some really good things in this book. Some things I didn’t like. It’s a very entertaining read, and I love how imaginative the world is!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts, and are not influenced by anyone.

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