YA Weekend Audio: Fable by Adrienne Young
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Book 1 of Fable
Publisher: Macmillan Audio (September 1, 2020)
Length: 8 hrs and 51 mins
Narrator: Emma Lysy
Fable was my third book by Adrienne Young, and even though it was okay, I’m also starting to think I’ll never like anything as much as Sky in the Deep. Some books, like her debut, can be straightforward and uncomplicated yet still fun to read, but there’s a difference between deceptively simple, and well…just plain simple. To be fair, what we have here is the first volume of a duology, but while I’m certain the author has a lot of good stuff saved for the second half, she still probably could have made this a more interesting opener.
The story follows our seventeen-year-old protagonist Fable, daughter of the famed merchant captain Saint. But four years ago, she was abandoned on an island of thieves to fend for herself, instructed to keep her origins a secret. Feeling betrayed and confused, Fable spent the intervening time hardening her heart and resolve, trusting no one and relying only on herself. Now that she’s all grown up, there’s nothing she wants more than to sail away from this awful place so she can track down her father, demand some answers, and claim her birthright.
To make her escape, Fable ends up striking a deal with West, captain of the trade ship Marigold. Although the crew is initially reluctant to accept her, Fable gradually gains their respect and trust by earning her passage, putting her diving skills and other gifts to good use. But how long will this goodwill last, once the others realize the true nature of her goal? Recalling her father’s warning to her to trust no one, Fable hasn’t told anyone the real reason why she’s seeking out Saint or her relationship to him, though she’s aware that sooner or later the truth will come out. Still, what she doesn’t realize is that West has secrets of his own, and that his agreement to help Fable may be a part of a greater plan.
What it mostly boils down to is this: The Marigold does a lot of sailing on the high seas while her crew does a lot of puttering around on the islands, and all the while Fable is agonizing over her situation with Saint and wondering where that leaves her. This pretty much sums up the novel, though for what it’s worth, I still would stop short of calling it boring even if the story itself was a bit humdrum and nothing spectacular.
That said, nothing much of note happened either. I felt like the most important developments and revelations came towards the end, and up to that point, the narrative was simply buying time to keep us in a holding pattern. Now, I grant you there was some action and intrigue thrown for good measure, but it was never enough. Don’t even get me started on the missed opportunities to develop the side characters, who all ended up being reduced to background noise—forgettable entities who were mostly there to fill up space. And for a story about a merchant ship crew that gets to travel so much, the writing was shockingly light on world-building and detail.
Still, let me be clear: I didn’t dislike the book. In fact, I can’t really say I felt much of anything towards it at all, because the content was just so thin and milquetoast. Do I think there’s potential to be more? Absolutely, and to be sure, there were some snatches of interest here and there, just enough to keep me entertained and pushing forward, and I can see the next book being a lot better, now that this first one has established a foundation.
With regards to whether I’ll continue the series though, I’ll probably take a wait-and-see approach. After reading Fable and seeing how much filler it contained, I’m not entirely convinced this duology couldn’t have been compressed into a single volume, but at least the ending and the overall setup has made me somewhat curious to see where things might lead.
Audiobook Comments: To be honest, I probably would have been even more critical of Fable had I not been listening to the audiobook. As it happens, the convenience of the format paired with having a fantastic narrator in Emma Lysy helped me get through the book and made it more enjoyable.