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One Minute, Twenty Four Year Old Sophie Hansa Is In A San Francisco Alley Trying To Save The Life Of The Aunt She Has Never Known The Next, She Finds Herself Flung Into The Warm And Salty Waters Of An Unfamiliar World Glowing Moths Fall To The Waves Around Her, And The Sleek Bodies Of Unseen Fish Glide Against Her Submerged AnklesThe World Is Stormwrack, A Series Of Island Nations With A Variety Of Cultures And Economies And A Language Different From Any Sophie Has HeardSophie Doesn T Know It Yet, But She Has Just Stepped Into The Middle Of A Political Firestorm, And A Conspiracy That Could Destroy A World She Has Just Discovered Her World, Where Everyone Seems To Know Who She Is, And Where She Is Forbidden To StayBut Sophie Is Stubborn, And Smart, And Refuses To Be Cast Adrift By People Who Don T Know Her And Yet Wish Her Gone With The Help Of A Sister She Has Never Known, And A Ship Captain Who Would Rather She Had Never Arrived, She Must Navigate The Shoals Of The Highly Charged Politics Of Stormwrack, And Win The Right To Decide For Herself Whether She Stays In This Wondrous World Or Is Doomed To Exile


10 thoughts on “Child of a Hidden Sea

  1. says:

    Sophie Hansa regains consciousness in a body of water, disoriented, thinking only of keeping herself afloat She quickly realizes her new found aunt is with her as well The situation makes no sense to her one minute fighting off attackers in a San Francisco alley, next minute treading water to survive Child of a Hidden Sea comes out of the parallel world school of fantasy, where the main characters discover there s a fantasy world loosely connected to ours think The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.Slowly, oh so slowly, she reorients to her new reality A carved spell gives her the ability to communicate in the common tongue, so she can begin conversing with her rescuers From her long history as a diver, she approaches the world through her water experience, comparing the sea and its denizens to the world she knows For those who enjoy the outdoors, it is a fun way to learn about the world of Stormwrack For those who enjoy diving learning about a culture through human interactions, it might be disappointing, as Sophie doesn t have an anthropological frame of mind.The starting point to her otherworld travels occurred because Sophie went searching for her birth mother Though she grew up in a family that loved her, and has a close relationship with her younger brother Bram, she s determined to connect to her birth parents It didn t go well, but Sophie is undeterred, stalking mom s house and then following someone who looks like an aunt She was saving the aunt from being attacked in an alley when the transfer happened.As Sophie attempts to understand the world or at least the biological creatures in it she has to navigate issues with her new found family It turns out her aunt and half sister live in Stormwrack, and her mother is a refugee from there While it gives Sophie a legitimate connection to the world, it also creates a new adult feel, a questioning of identity and family so common to those years Even , Sophie is particularly naive about connecting with them she s convinced everyone will love her if they just give her a chance She is also grossly self centered as her aunt briefly regains consciousness with a knife hilt poking out of her chest, Sophie asks about her dad Though Sophie isn t an unlikable character her endless curiosity and positive energy are assets she is quite thoughtless, self centered and generally heedless of consequences.I feel like I grew up on those portal fantasies, so the issues about connected worlds was less disjointing than it might be for others However, unlike the protagonists I admire, Sophie persists far too long in thinking she s on Earth, trying to match local fauna and flora to her memories of different countries Really it s plausible to assume you ve suddenly been transported 2000 miles It s a barrier for her that takes time to reconcile Generally, I enjoyed the world building, but I m of biologist bent, so the focus on sea life was enjoyable However, human cultural individuation and details on the magical system were lacking I d be willing to blame it on Sophie, however, as she was focused on photographing sea life and taking samples than she was at observing human relationships.Speaking of human relationships, I found her lust interest Captain Tasty entertaining but somewhat out of place although also strangely naive did she think about pregnancy Social implications New parasites She eventually develops a crush that she unfortunately shares with her half sister It was hard to get a grip on Sophie s personality Given that she is searching for her birth parents to the extent of stalking her mother, it seems strange that she has the opportunity to talk with a half sister and doesn t take it Granted, the sister is angry about an inheritance Sophie receives, but it didn t stop her from harassing her mother The odd thing is that I can t tell if the shortcoming is in Dellamonica s writing or Sophie s character.Writing is decent Paragraphs are short and choppy at the beginning, mirroring Sophie s confused state The description is generally solid, and at a couple of points, I felt like a solid scene was conveyed I particularly liked the otter raft The political angles seemed the weakest again, not sure if it is the result of Sophie s self involved narration or vague world building You aren t going to get much sophistication from someone who refers to others cultures as the bad guys, or wonders if the rest of the world is as backwards as the Steele Islanders.At the end of the day, it s an interesting story set in an intriguing world However, I m indifferent on my concern for Sophie and unconvinced she is best suited to carry a plot about being exposed to a new world Come to think of it, she reminds me of the self centered, immature heroine in Darkfever There s also a number of nit picky points that might bother those who note details the fact that tech works in Stormwrack, that it is secret and that the residents there are generally unperturbed by it Honestly, I d call this about the same on my rating scale as Leviathan, with about the same interest at picking up the sequel Which is to say, it s not an impossible idea, but I ll probably need someone to provide photos from another world to convince me.


  2. says:

    Great fun I challenge you to read this book and come away from it without wishing that you, too, could acquire a travel pass to the world of Stormwrack Sophie Hansa, 24, is procrastinating about defending her thesis, feeling a bit like she s in her brilliant younger brother s shadow, and having a bit of existential ennui In an attempt to contact her birth family she s adopted , she gets a bit stalker ish and then ends up accidentally catapulted into a world other than our own and into the midst of a huge mess encompassing family drama, lawsuits, trade agreements, magical curses and even murder The plot s fast paced and twisty, and I enjoyed Sophie s reactions, her scientific and natural curiosity and her modern, progressive sensibilities.The whole thing is not just fantasy in the genre sense, but also in the wish fulfillment sense However, I have zero problem with that It reminded me of a mature version of any number of childhood favorites in the portal fantasy genre it s not nearly as juvenile as the cover art might indicate.Stormwrack an archipelago world which may or may not be a far future Earth has a near infinite number of cultures and settings, with hundreds of independent island nations It s got a lot of potential for future books I hope to get the opportunity to go back and visit again This was the second book I ve read by Dellamonica, but I feel that here, she s really hit her stride.Copy provided by NetGalley Much appreciation for the opportunity to read As always, my opinions are unaffected by the source.


  3. says:

    Before I begin this review, let me state for the record this book was okay, but I wanted to like it so much than I actually did I am not too proud to admit that the cover sucked me in, and I completely bought into its promises of pirates, swashbuckling, and swoon worthy romance I was disappointed on all counts, but pleasantly surprised by some other aspects.When I first began Child of a Hidden Sea, it took me a few chapters to get used to Sophie s first person narration, since it seemed so awkward at first She kept asking herself rhetorical questions about the cultural elements of Stormwrack s nations, its geography, and magic After thinking about it for a while, I realized that Sophie s narrative voice her questions, concerns actually reminded me of my own thought process when I begin reading an SF F novel Just as readers need time to digest the cultural, political, and magical systems of a new universe, so too did Sophie And man, was there a lot to digest Child of a Hidden Sea has excellent world building, with a rich tapestry of peoples, cultures, and several types of magic I loved the concept of the fleet, essentially a floating city comprised of hundreds of ships belonging to the different island nations of Stormwrack The system of inscribing names and intents onto items and then utilizing these items as focuses for magical power was already really cool It s pretty fitting that names are so important in a book where the protagonist is desperate to find her birth parents My one complaint about the otherwise flawless world building is about the portal between Earth and Stormwrack Maybe it s just the nature of portal fantasy to be a bit vague on the details, but I would have liked explanation as to why exactly technology from Earth or Erstwhile worked in Stormwrack with few problems Sure, Sophie s cell didn t have service, but her video camera worked fine Obviously a lot of SFF requires you to suspend your disbelief, but I think Dellamonica was asking a bit much when she expected readers to buy the fact that no one batted an eye at Earth s technology Stormwrack seriously needs to tighten up their security if they want to remain a secret.Sophie s insecurities made her both sympathetic and mildly annoying Yes, we get it, your little brother s a genius and you have a complex about it Deal with it, girl She s no slouch herself, with a practically encyclopedic knowledge of flora and fauna and advanced scuba diving skills I found it frustrating that Dellamonica constantly dithered about Sophie s intellectual insecurity but couldn t find the space to make the explicit connection between her career on Earth as an adventurer at sea and the fact that Sophie s parents belong to a world LITERALLY ON THE SEA I suspect the lack of commentary on the subject was intentional, but clearly Demllamonica is a teller and not a shower so I m not sure what that was about.Although I thought Sophie was a fairly weak character, her brother Bram was wonderful He encompasses many extremes but somehow avoids caricature status, remaining realistically three dimensional He s a gay genius with a killer sense of style and a dry sense of humor whose favourite alkaloid is coffee That s kind of a lot to process, but it totally works I also liked his catch phrase, sub optimal, since it fit his geeky droll sense of humour perfectly.I liked this enough to read the sequel if there is one , but I won t be re reading it Here s hoping that both Dellamonica s writing, and her protagonist, become a bit adult by then.


  4. says:

    I received Child of a Hidden Sea for review from NetGalley shortly before it was released in June It looked interesting a seafaring based portal world with political intrigue, mystery, and magic It is also not a Young Adult novel, which definitely appealed The synopsis promised to have plenty for me to love Well, I liked it ok enough, but I can t say I loved it It was entertaining, and I am interested enough to read a sequel if there is one, but I also feel kind of ambivalent about it and am having a hard time putting my finger on why.I enjoyed the sea faring aspect, and the descriptions of the natural world were vivid and breathtaking Sophie is a Marine Biologist in her life on Earth, and her excitement at the new species she encounters is infectious It s a world I would love to see for myself during a sea adventure on a real, old fashioned ship without engines, of course She is also a diver, which comes in handy a couple times during this adventure I wonder what would have happened if she didn t know how to dive or have equipment but that s beside the point.Sophie s curiosity about this new world gets her in trouble, though, because curiosity is not encouraged here at all The world is full of unfriendly, stuck up, or downright hostile people, so I found it difficult to like anyone or their cultures This is an aspect of world building that I usually enjoy Instead, all of the wonder is reserved for the pristine environment, and her difficulties adjusting to the new world are a lot closer to real life culture shock without anyone sympathetic enough to help her find her way and learn the ways of the peoples Also without even a common level of politeness So I struggled to care about the fate of this completely thankless world full of prejudice, the heroine s newly found family being the worst of them all.The mystery is about Sophie s history before she was adopted on Earth, as well as who was trying to kill her aunt and why She has to learn the politics, history and culture well enough to put it together without much help from the natives, some of whom are jealous, suspicious and aggravatingly condescending Again, I really just enjoyed the adventure of being at sea than the intrigue of these incredibly rude and hostile people I did like the juxtaposition of magic and technology, and how technology is viewed as inferior on this world but Sophie uses it to help her solve the mystery and force the natives to accept her findings when they would gladly throw her under the bus er, ship I do feel as if Sophie is on her way to winning over some of the hostile people so that her future adventures might include some actual friendships and therefore a better appreciation for the positive sides of the world s cultures hopefully I also discovered that there s something about portal fantasies in general that bothers me, that I ve felt before when reading others but couldn t identify It s that the ported character has to speak realistically for someone from our world, with accent, slang, cultural references, etc Obviously this is to be expected, but I find it jarring to have someone with an American accent referring to fast food restaurants, texting, and the internet while in a fantasy world This is just me, but is another reason I felt some ambivalence about the story.Overall, it was an entertaining read, a little different from other fantasies I ve read lately I will be interested in reading a sequel, if there is one The ending was left open enough while still feeling complete Edit Time passed, and I lost even the vague feeling of interest in the sequel Received free arc for review.


  5. says:

    This review was originally posted on Avid Reviews www.avidfantasyreviews.wordpress.com It has been a while since I have read a portal to another world fantasy, so I found myself looking forward to reading Child of a Hidden Sea, which is the first book in a new series I found myself quite surprised when reading this book, as it was nothing like my expectations Even though I did have some problems with the novel, overall I found it to be a fresh perspective on a familiar fantasy trope, and a book with a pretty decent plotline Child of a Hidden Sea is told from the perspective of twenty four year old Sophie, a resident of San Francisco who is suddenly dropped into an ocean on an unfamiliar world after a failed attempt to reunite with her birth mother Sophie soon learns that she is in the world of Stormwrack, a place where magic is possible, despite its uncanny similarities to Earth Stormwrack is a world made up of island nations, and upon Sophie s arrival the political climate between several different cultures is highly strained Now Sophie must help to solve a murder and prevent a war, all the while dealing with people who seem to take great offense at her presence in their world As I mentioned before, this book surprised me One of the elements I was not expecting this story to have was a good number of gay and bisexual characters It was not until fairly recently that diversity in sexual orientation was found in fantasy, and though I do not think that every fantasy book needs to calls for such diversity, it is nice to see progression in the genre Also, in this particular story, I thought that the addition of these characters added a whole lot to the story, and were not simply there for the sake of diversity Another surprising element of this novel was Sophie s scientific curiosity She looks at the world through the eyes of a biologist who is also well versed in several other scientific fields , and her journey to Stormwrack is incredibly exciting to her from a scientific standpoint As someone with a degree in Environmental Science, this is very similar to how I view the world, and I found Sophie s inquiries into the local wildlife and landscape very similar to how I would act if I were suddenly dropped in another world It always bothers me in these types of books when the protagonist is dropped into a new world and either is completely oblivious to or not concerned at all with how this new world is different from his own besides the obvious this world has magic and mine doesn t I found this scientific examination of a different world to be one of the things that I enjoyed the most about this novel, and it is also the reason that I will continue to read books in this series, even though I did have some issues with the story My biggest issue with this book is that it took me a while to get used to Sophie s first person narrative In the first few chapters I found her narrative to be quite awkward, and I was pretty convinced that I was not going to enjoy the story Fortunately, her narrative does get much better, and by a third of the way through the book the plot picks up in pace There are still some sections of the book that drag, but even in these parts I found I was still entertained, even if I was not fully engaged in the story In addition to this, I had some problems with Sophie as a character I love a strong female protagonist, and even though she was an endearing character, her constant questioning of all her words and actions was a bit of a bummer I love the curious scientist aspect of her, but I do not like the insecure young girl stereotype I also found that despite the many unique aspects of this book, the world building and the magic system were both rather average They were not bad, I just would have liked to see something a little exciting or distinctive I would recommend this book to anyone likes fantasy and doesn t mind a female protagonist who is insecure This was a good book, though not a great one, and I found it to be an enjoyable read Overall I would give this book a 7.25 10 I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.


  6. says:

    Even thou I rated this two stars I read the sequel and am about to buy the third book I would still recommend it to certain readers.Reason for two stars the MC is meant to be 24 years old but the narrative voice was closer to that of a 16 17 year old protagonist the mc lacked emotional depth, the way some of the characters acted was terrible and the mc seemed to take it laying down An example right at the beginning the mc is violently rejected by her birth mother and the rest of her birth family I m not sure the author understood how psychologically catastrophic that would be for a person Having had a similar personal experience it was borderline offensive I want to believe I predominantly read fantasy and sci fi I want to stretch my imagination and engage with a fantastic and crazy world I found the world and plot far fetched NOT because it was a fantasy but because the author didn t successfully sell me on the believability the romance including its development in the second novel is kind of weak It s ok but it was a bit childish This is a woman who engaged in causal athletic sex with someone she just met in the beginning of the first book but then blushes and carries on like a twit over a dude her birth sister is in love with.What I liked and why I would still recommend it to someone else sea faring society, diving, photography, wildlife and biology Awesome MC was sweet and the focus on the relationship with the adoptive brother was a delight They had a pretty healthy relationship and communicated in a mature, kind and psychologically sound way So rare At first I was dubious but by the end I was very engaged with the legal thriller plot It was funny the lack of destiny with a capital D was funny and a great subversion of the trope.


  7. says:

    Child of a Hidden Sea is like Pirates of the Caribbean if PoC was centered on Elizabeth Swann, and she was a college grad from UCLA who liked biology and scuba diving I m really conflicted on this one I liked the main character, and the book s focus on familial relationships and not romantic ones The world building was thorough, but I felt like we saw the boring parts of the world When you transport the reader into a world of pirates and swashbuckling don t take them to a courtroom unless there will be blood WWDDLD What Would Daniel Day Lewis Do The characters speak fleetspeak but it sounds like legalese at times This book is full of great potential, but the pacing made it really hard to get too attached I guess it doesn t help that I am not the biggest fan of courtroom centered stories There is nothing worse than the expectation of a party and instead walking into a deposition.


  8. says:

    Find this and many other reviews at Geekritique It s become an annual tradition of mine to head over to New York Comic Con each year, buy a bunch of stuff that I tell myself I ll read, use, etc., and then never do it I ve got piles of books from NYCC over the years that have totally gone untouched due to time and moving on to the next thing One of these books, as you can probably already guess, is Child of a Hidden Sea A M Dellamonica s latest fantasy novel I found it perched nicely in its own pile next to Words of Radiance, Lock In, Goblin Emperor, and so on And it caught my eye Because wow What a beautiful cover Seriously tremendously gratifying to behold Probably the best cover of 2014 I had to have it.But unlike 75% of the novels, I really wanted to read this one I promised myself I d get to it And I m so happy I did Child of a Hidden Sea takes portal fantasy to a place I ve never been before Following in the footsteps of the great C.S Lewis, Dellamonica pushes the genre further, makes the protagonist a far realistic one, and delivers a superb book.Sophie Hansa, said protagonist, is adopted and searches out her biological family Upon finding her mother in San Francisco, who gets very angry for her sudden reappearance, Sophie gets caught in an alley brawl and ends up saving her biological aunt, Gale s, life Next thing she knows she s in the middle of the ocean, getting rescued by sailors straight out of a pirate story It turns out she s travelled to a world known as Stormwrack The attempted murder or Gale Feliachild is soon discovered to be part of a conspiracy that could shake the world out of its current hundred plus years of peace and into war.Stormwrack is, as far as this narrative suggests, entirely a water world, with small islands here and there The way Dellamonica portrays how a society that lives on ships could work, fantastical and primitive as it is, is grandly thought out One of the most imaginative ideas this book has to offer is the Fleet, a giant island esque massing of ships from all the different nations, essentially taking the place of another book s city.The lingering mystery about the world of Stormwrack and how it came to be is hugely interesting Many times throughout the novel we re led to believe this is actually the same Earth Sophie grew up on, just changed Whether it s the future, a parallel universe, or other, is never fully realized But some characters who are aware of the Earth or place Sophie is from refer to it as Erstwhile This suggests Stormwrack does exist in the future, as well as does the title Stormwrack it makes it sound as though a great storm wracked the earth They even have their own version of the Noah s ark legend, and the language of Fleetspeak has ties to Italian, as corroborating evidence.There is a magic system to be developed here scripping as it s known To scrip something means to literally write down a spell or order that sets a certain thing or intention into motion Scripping can be used in any number of ways, as the book will show you, as long as you have someone or something s full name These spells won t work unless the full name is spoken I think there s a lot to be said about the efficiency of the system, but think the boundaries of what can and can t needs to be a little tighter, a little stricter You can turn people into monsters, you can make someone ageless and pretty, you can make them die, teach them different languages or skills What can t you do I hope the next book goes into that a bit better.Sophie Hansa is a great character, proactive and relatable In many ways, as the voice of the book, I feel this is also A.M Dellamonica s voice as a writer It has a sort of wonderment, a whimsy As Sophie discovers the world and all its magic brilliance, so too does Dellamonica But when it comes to some of the other characters Tonio, Parrish, Annela I feel their voices, their dialogue is interchangeable And on occasion I felt they took and understood Sophie s strange phrasings and colloquialisms many of which would never appear in your average fantasy novel, as they re 21st century terms far too well Only on occasion would they say to her something along the lines of I don t understand I d have liked to see this occur often, and have Sophie, in turn, try and speak in a fashion easier for them to understand Sophie does do better in this respect by the end of the novel.The cover depicts a half ferret, half snake hybrid, and I really wanted this to show up prominently, but it only showed up on occasion But all in all, what a fun novel I wish I would ve read this last year, as this totally would ve made it higher on my 2014 list If you need a break from the pervasive grimdark we see all over the place, take a load off your shoulders and just enjoy Child of a Hidden Sea.


  9. says:

    I received this Kindle ARC through NetGalley from the publisher, Tor.The story starts with the protagonist Sophie being tossed into the sea by a tornado, kind of like Dorothy and Oz One moment, she is in her home town San Francisco, and the next she is falling into salted water Good thing she is an excellent swimmer and a trained diver, but all the same she feels as disoriented as the reader What s going on, she wonders, and I wondered with her It took some time for the story to hit its stride, but once it did, and the confusion cleared, it became apparent that Sophie has been catapulted into a parallel world of Stormwrack through a magical portal The world has many similarities with Earth but it s also vastly different One of the major differences is that it doesn t have any familiar continents, just a scattering of islands, each with its own nation, in the huge ocean Another difference magic permeates every sphere of life on this world, while technology is low, and steel is practically unknown But despite the medieval trappings of sailing ships, slaves, and oil torches, an entry visa is required for travelers from Earth Not many on Stormwrack are aware that Earth exists, but some do, and the transportation back and forth is formalized And as odd as it sounds, Sophie seems to belong on this world she has relatives here She has always known that she was adopted, but as soon as she started looking for her biological family, and found it too, she was flung through the portal into the new adventure As she tries to unravel the mysteries of Stormwrack and the convoluted secrets of her biological family, the plot twists like a deranged pretzel, and misfortunes pile up Sophie has to deal with a murder, an unwanted inheritance, a kidnapping, and a charming sea captain And all the while magical spells swirl around her some benevolent, others not so much Sophie is a charming protagonist A marine videographer, she has cruised the Earth seas for years When she lands on Stormwrack, armed only with her wits and her waterproof camera, she starts with photographing every new species she encounters and every book and map that comes her way She collects data like a trained researcher and blithely disregards the orders for secrecy from the officials When out of choices, she even resorts to smuggling her data back to Earth The idea of losing any of her footage is almost tragic to her Her relentless pursuit of a murderer and her actions to save Stormwrack from a devastating war seem almost an afterthought to her cravings to record the unfamiliar crab species or the pink, helpful octopi The plot moves fast, the secrets are original, to say the least, the writing professional, and the magic system absolutely unique, based on the true name which is common and spider webs which is not There is a plethora of fascinating secondary characters in the story, some of which are depicted very well But Sophie outshines them all Kind and quick thinking, always trying to help others, she is an adventurous spirit, overflowing with curiosity She wants to know the how and why of everything she encounters on Stormwrack from geography and politics to her beloved marine fauna and the cultural traditions of the island nations This light new fantasy with a dollop of casual humor was a fun and easy read 3.5 stars


  10. says:

    Read in February 7 till February 26, 2016 DNF 16% I tried.Positives Child of Hidden Sea is one of those books that grabs you from the start with its fast pacing and original premises Oh yes, there are plenty of books about young women being transported to another world and so on, but I rather enjoyed being in Sophie s head Overall, the world is intriguing and colorful, my mind was having a feast imagining the white beaches, vast sea and the underwater scenery The heroine was intelligent, curious and very proactive The plot was headingsomewhere, I suppose, but this is where my biggest complain comes along.Negatives aka Why I stopped reading This bookdidn t flow very well Maybe it s just me, but I found it very hard to keep track of what s happening, where the characters are at the moment and what they are talking about The story seemed to be moving super fast, almost as if skipping important bits of information view spoiler For instance, Sophie is about to leave the island where her aunt is still recovering, she gets on a ship, meets a set of new random characters and a paragraph later they are diving to retrieve some stuff What Wasn t she leaving for her own world Why is she diving underwater to help retrieve awas it a chest A bottle No idea and I just read this chapter hide spoiler