Fable: A Slow-Burn, Pirate-ish Survival Story

*I received a free copy of the US edition of this book from the publisher. (But the cover in my image above is the UK Fairyloot edition I purchased.) These are my personal, honest opinions. Thank you.*

4/5 Stars

Author: Adrienne Young

Publisher/Imprint: Wednesday Books

Edition: Hardcover, 357 Pages

Publication Date: September 01, 2020

A Spine that Shines? Pretty Well


Book Synopsis

For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Book Review

I knew that in the Narrows, nothing was what it seemed. Every truth was twisted. Every lie carefully constructed.

-Adrienne Young, Fable

Initial Thoughts

Hello, everyone! What are some books you’re looking forward to reading? Have you finished anything good this week? I’m excited to share my thoughts with you about Fable by Adrienne Young, one of my favorite authors 🙂 Let’s jump into some of my initial thoughts here!

  • Fable was a solid 4-star read for me!
  • In this book, you’ll find a fascinating trader/merchant culture!
  • These traders are pirate-ish, though the word ‘pirate’ is never used in the book.
  • Good world-building and lovely descriptions of seaside settings!
  • In the beginning, there is also an island full of thieves, one of whom especially makes life difficult for Fable.
  • I enjoyed the themes of family and finding a place to belong.
  • Fable has a super cool ability that allows her to identify gems of any kind!
  • You’ll also find plenty of secrets in this novel! (Including some that I wish we had more answers for. But more on that later.)
  • Rivalry between traders!
  • Illegal gem trading!
  • A map hidden in plain sight and a sunken ship graveyard!
  • A mother with a secret past!

‘You want something in this life, you take it,’ she said again, louder.

-Adrienne Young, Fable

Characters & Romance

Here is a brief overview of some of the main characters. I didn’t absolutely love the characters.

  • Fable, the daughter of a powerful trader in the Narrows, is determined to find a way off the island of Jeval after her father abandons here there four years before the book begins. Along the way, she finds a place with a special trading crew on the Marigold. There’s a lot more to the Marigold and her crew than first meets the eye. Fable survives in an unforgiving world that doesn’t make life easy for young women, but she perseveres and I admired her strength.
  • West is the helmsman of the Marigold. He is protective of his crew and those loves. Yet, his character seems the most distant and closed off. Even though he is Fable’s love-interest, I barely felt like I got to know him in this book. He and Fable barely interact for a long time while they’re aboard the Marigold. I’m really hoping for more of him in the sequel.
  • I’m also hoping the sequel will have more romance. It is mostly absent until closer to the end of this book. I definitely liked Fable and West together, but the romance was a bit too slow for me. In general, I’m the type of reader who needs a bit of romance in my books. But I’m guessing we’ll see more in the sequel.
  • Willa, Auster, Paj, and Hamish make up the rest of West’s crew. I thought these characters were OK. I think I liked Willa the best out of the four. She is a fierce, spunky young woman who can take care of herself! She is also the ship’s bosun. Auster takes care of the ship’s supplies/food. Paj is the navigator. Hamish manages the treasury and cargo inventory.
  • Saint is pretty much the most powerful trader in the Narrows and Fable’s father. He is closed off and has certain “rules” about how to live, including not forming emotional attachments that could allow your enemies to have leverage over you. I still wanted a bit more about his character. Perhaps in the sequel. I also think it would be interesting if Adrienne were to write a companion novel about Saint’s story – where he came from and how he became the man he is today. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but it would be interesting.

The Narrows was the edge of a blade. You couldn’t live here and not get cut.

-Adrienne Young, Fable

Final Thoughts

Here are some final musings I had:

  • After reading the entire novel, I still don’t fully understand why Fable’s father left on the island of Jeval four years ago. I think that’s one of the reasons why I wanted more insight into his character.
  • I also didn’t have a clear understanding of what happened between Willa and another crew member from a rival ship. I felt like that information was withheld from the reader.
  • Fable is marketed as fantasy, but the fantasy element is quite small and underdeveloped if it is indeed intended to be a fantasy element. Fable’s sort of supernatural/magical ability to “feel” and sort of sense different types of gems was very interesting, but I don’t think this ability was explored quite enough in this book.
  • Another thing to note is the pacing. Fable did not suck me in immediately like Sky in the Deep did. With Fable, I struggled for the first half of the book. The pace is slower and I felt like not much actually happened. But then there is a bit more tension and movement in the second half that kept me going. I suppose readers who haven’t yet read Sky may feel differently about this. But since I read Sky first, I can’t help but measure Fable up against the same standards.
  • I enjoyed Fable overall! It is certainly well-written, but I had also wanted more from it. More answers, more tension, more dancer/action, more romance, more about her relationship with her father, more of the island of thieves, and more magic.

So far, Sky in the Deep remains my favorite Adrienne Young novel! Fable is a slow-burn in many ways. To me, it seemed that Fable lacked the degree of intensity that Sky had. But I’m still very excited to read the sequel Namesake after Fable’s cliffhanger ending. Ahh! I look forward to finding out what happens to the characters in book two. I’m guessing there will be higher stakes and more answers. If you haven’t yet read one of Adrienne’s books, what are you waiting for? Give her a try! Happy reading 🙂

*Content Warnings: Action/adventure violence; one sex scene that fades out.*

Copyright © 2021 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)

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Up Next on My TBR:

I’m not entirely certain yet which book I will finish next. Possibly one of these:

5 thoughts on “Fable: A Slow-Burn, Pirate-ish Survival Story”

  1. I think I may need to re-read the physical copy of this book at some point. The slow pace + the fact that I listened to the audiobook had me getting lost in my own thoughts and not enjoying it nearly as much as I think I could have. With Namesake now out, I’d like a chance to redeem it! Fantastic review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jamilla! Yes, I have read Namesake, but just haven’t posted my review yet on this platform. I felt that it delivered on a few things, but in some ways was not exactly what I was hoping for either. I’m going to try to post my review here in the near future when I have time lol. But Sky in the Deep is still my fav Adrienne Young book so far 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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