The second novel in the Stormwrack series, following a young woman’s odyssey into a fantastical age-of-sail world
All Sophie Hansa wanted was to meet her birth parents. Instead, she and her stepbrother found themselves transported to another world made up of giant archipelagos and people who can magically alter themselves. With her business in Stormwrack finished, it looked like Sophie had seen the last of the Fleet, until she finds the captain of her late aunt’s ship, Parrish Garland, waiting for her at her parents’ home.
Sophie finds out that her birth mother has been imprisoned by her birth father for hiding their daughter, and now Sophie must return to Stormwrack to talk the father she never knew into releasing the mother who wants nothing to do with her. Not only does she have to navigate the troubled social waters of her father’s home nation, she also finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy that could lead to open civil war in the Fleet.
Now Sophie, Bran, and Parrish must unravel a decades-old mystery if they hope to free Sophie’s mom and preserve the peace ensured by the nations united in the Fleet.
My thanks to Alyx for taking the time to answer my questions – so many questions, in fact, that I’ve decided to split her interview into two parts! Look for the full interview in a later post tomorrow.
Q You’ve planned the Hidden Sea Tales as a trilogy, but some of the back stories of the other characters (Tonio, Lena, and especially Gale & Parrish) would be fascinating to read. Is there a chance of more stories? Even short stories or novellas?
A I will probably be writing stories sent in this universe until I die. I like the idea of a novel about Bram, but I haven’t quite figured out how it would work yet. But the fourth Gale and Garland Parrish story, “Losing Heart among the Tall” has just sold to Tor.com–I don’t have a date for it yet, but it’s about how Sophie’s birth mother ended up the keeper of a certain magical item from the first novel. The fifth, “The Boy Who Would Not Be Enchanted,” is doing the rounds now and has a direct link to that question of predestination and true love. (And, since you mentioned Tonio, I’ll also mention that he is the one who tells it.)
Q In honour of your own amazing interviews with the Heroine Question, I wondered if you would answer your own question: Is there a literary heroine on whom you imprinted as a child – someone you pretended to be on the playground, or a first love? Who was she?
A Oh, my! I should have expected someone to turn this back on me. The first chapter books I read as a little kid were the biographies of famous American women – wives of presidents, mostly, but there were also writers like Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe. There were suffragettes like Julia Howe and Jane Addams (though, strangely, those books aimed at six year old girls didn’t once mention the fight for the vote). And, finally, there were explorers and pioneers. Clara Barton. Sacagawea.
One of my favourite books of the bunch was the biography of Amelia Earhart. As a kid I lived under an airport and a small plane crashed on our street once, so airplanes fascinated and terrified me. The courage of Amelia in flying planes–planes!–and the sad end of her story was something I found incredibly compelling.
Note: As this is the second book in the series, there may be minor spoilers for Book One: Child of A Hidden Sea. If you don’t want to be spoiled, go get book one for heaven’s sake and READ IT, then come back here. It’s worth it, I promise.
When Daughter of No Nation opens, Sophie is back home, but she’s better than ever. Never one to waste her time, she’s been preparing herself for her return to Stormwrack – because, make no mistake, she’s heading back. Scuba diving lessons, endurance training, strength sessions – it’s pretty much Sophie 2.0, but with the same excellent brain. She’s not there long, however, before Parrish shows up at her door and she’s bidding her family adieu again.While Sophie may have returned to Stormwrack with more information and active preparation, she’s still thrown into the thick of things. There’s political double-dealings to navigate this time out, and her budding relationship with her father to explore. I’ll confess that I love the world building in Stormwrack, and the character development of everyone in the story.
The character building remains as strong in this book as it was in the first, with Sophie learning more about herself and her family, this time by spending more time with her father, Cly. I’m going to be honest: Cly gave me the shivers throughout the book, and I never trusted him the way Sophie did, because …. reasons. There are things about Cly and his home nation that quickly become known to Sophie, and I found her reaction to be completely in character. Sophie’s conflicted feelings and innate dislike for the social norms she encountered was a great way to give us more info about Stormwrack. Sometimes we need to see the darker side of things in order to develop a more balanced view of a world; I will say that it left me hungry for more knowledge, especially with Sophie as my guide.
Aside from her encounters with Cly, Sophie has multiple emotional issues to deal with, not the least of which is a more complicated relationship with Verena. No longer a child and crushing hard on Parrish, Verena doesn’t have the kindliest feelings for her sister and doesn’t hesitate to make those clear. Their relationship isn’t going to be easy by any stretch, but adding in Verena’s growing maturity and awareness to the already simmering resentment definitely makes things more difficult. The contrast between Sophie’s relationship with Verena and Bram couldn’t be more startling.
Verena shrugged. “The government regards you as unreliable, Sophie. The few people who know about Erstwhile pretty much see us as an armed barbarian hoard, gnawing on the gates of civilization.”
“If I’m so dangerous, why let me back in now?”
Verena gave the plastic bag of painkillers and sunscreen one last, sour look. “Court stuff. The case with Mom.”
Speaking of Parrish … talk about some unresolved issues! There were various points throughout the book where I yelled at Sophie to just kiss him already. The tension between the two of them is fantastic and irritating in equal measure, simply because you know they are awesome together. I loved how Sophie owned her sexuality and didn’t apologize for having previous partners, and how she could now admit to herself that she really, really wanted to be with Parrish. (Confession: So do I.)
One of my favourite aspects of this book lies in the way that Dellamonica is able to bring real-world issues such as environmentalism, statehood/nationalism and global warming into her alternative world in such a way as to make you re-think your positions on things. Things are seldom black and white, and I found that I was constantly revising my opinions about what was happening. Additionally, Sophie struggles throughout the book to reconcile her science background with the magical concepts she encounters, and it’s an honest conflict. There’s some lovely development of the back stories of other characters in this book, including some really tremendous mythologies that I hope are developed further in future stories.
Daughter of No Nation is, above all else, a tremendously fun read. Reviews of the first book repeatedly used the phrase swashbuckling, and that’s one aspect that remains the same. There’s tall ships and high seas piracy, mysterious islands and creepy-ghosty-type things, political intrigue and sea turtles and so, so much more. This is an amazing series, with solid, interesting worldbuilding and some incredible short stories (think a female Doctor Who with a young male companion!) to give you some back story. Add it to your TBR and holiday lists now – you won’t be disappointed.
Daughter of No Nation is available now for purchase. A copy was provided by Raincoast / Tor Books in exchange for an honest review, but in no way influenced my opinion. It is available for purchase from your favourite online, big box or indie bookseller. ISBN: 9780765334503, 352 pages.