Orphans of the Tide

HarperCollins/Harper. (Orphans of the Tide: Bk. 1). Dec. 2021. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063043114.
Gr 4-6–The City is the only land in existence—or really only part of it, since the majority of it sank underground in the tragic Great Drowning. Ellie, a bedraggled, pale-skinned girl rescues a boy from the belly of whale. Unfortunately, as soon as the light brown–skinned, muscular Seth emerges from the whale, the City guards believe he is the new Vessel who contains the Enemy, the evil god that destroyed The City, and decide the only way to save them all is to kill him. Ellie makes it her mission to save Seth and along with redheaded orphan Anna and her mysterious blond, pale friend Finn, she attempts to figure out who Seth is and where he’s from. Ellie, however, has her own dangerous secret. The pace never slacks in this page-turning adventure, with well-crafted twists and secrets. Pages of a journal written by a former Vessel are interspersed throughout in a different format, making readers feel even more intertwined in the story. Murray’s prose is descriptive and vivid; kids will think they are in Ellie’s workshop, piled high with crab catchers, broken machines, books, notes, and unidentified items. The only bump in the plot is the attempted description of the gods of the world, their roles, and not-quite demise. Because this mythology is underdeveloped, it detracts from the story instead of adding to the worldbuilding.
VERDICT An action-packed tale in a unique fantasy world that features a girl finding great power with the help of friends.

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