This review contains spoilers.
☾ about the book
Title: The Maiden Ship
Author: Micheline Ryckman
Series: The Maiden Ship Trilogy
Sequel: The Lion of the Sea
Format: novel, ebook (also available as paperback)
Trigger Warning: death of parents
☾ the plot
Dain Alloway was only nine years old when he began a new life with his father, sailing aboard The Maiden. Eight years later, the aristocratic city-boy turned merchant-sailor feels like he lives with one foot on land, and one foot in the sea. Life floats smoothly by until the night he wakes to find a mysterious woman in his cabin.
The events that unfold after her appearance transform Dain’s world. Now, hunted by empty-faced demons, he finds himself thrown into a dangerous web of intrigue and magic. As the crisis grows, the young sailor discovers powerful gifts buried deep within, talents that might shift the tide of a centuries-old war. Whether or not he’s ready, Dain will have to risk it all for the salvation and freedom of those he loves.
☾ the characters
Dain Alloway lost his mother at a young age and joins the crew on his father’s merchant ship, The Maiden.
Despite his suspicions about the ship, Dain grows up at sea and one day, when he is 17, decides to leave the ship behind.
But before he can, his father is killed in a mysterious attack of red-cloaked demons and Dain unwillingly has to take on the position as Captain as he is flung into a world of magic he didn’t even know existed.
Ileana is The Lost Princess of Derchar. Due to a forbidden romance, she was cursed by a powerful adept and turned into the figurehead of The Maiden.
Once every while, she returns to her human form and leads Dain to his mother’s old journal – and thereby unraveling a world of magic Dain is a part of.
Sable and Tars are two adept that Dain’s father meant to save from the hands of the red-cloaked demons.
Sable arrives at The Maiden and poses as a boy, but Dain soon finds out about her magical abilities.
However, Sable is very concerned with finding the Safe Haven that Dain’s father promised to bring her to – and before she can do that, she has to rescue Tars.
☾ the world building
There are Four Kingdoms – Derchar, Ernham, Zaal and Iandior.
Dain is from Aalta, which is in Zaal, and most of the story is set in the waters around Zaal (and Ernham).
Unlike Ernham and Iandior, Derchar is of significant meaning, because after having cursed Ileana, Derchar is now ruled by the powerful adept – and it has been since centuries.
☾ the magic system
There are magic wielding people across the Four Kingdoms – they are called Adept.
Adepts can have one or more talents (magical abilities) that manifest at different points in their lives.
Adept can also be made (so they are not born), but besides the adept, magic creatures such as the red-cloaked floating Stalkers that are scared of the sea.
☾ the things i liked about this book
I liked the characters well enough, I think they were developed well and all had distinctive personalities.
The general feel of the world building also was quite nice.
I also enjoyed the fact that while there was a slight romance blossoming between Dain and Sable, that it wasn’t the main focus of the book.
☾ the things i liked about this book
This book was a mess.
Neither the magic system or the world building (though its vibes were great) were explained in such a way that it was easy to understand for the reader, and that’s me being nice.
The characters, while well-developed and distinctive, were not characters I could really connect to.
I feel like this book suffered an imbalance of character development and world building, which is sad, because I think the plot has a lot of potential.
Unfortunately, the important parts of the book didn’t give me as much content as I was hoping for, and the majority of the book was quite boring.
☾ would i recommend this book
I would recommend it to people who are either just starting out reading fantasy or are younger than 17.
For older YA readers who know what their tastes are like, this book might be a waste of time.
It is one of those rare cases where an indie-writer put in all the work only to then, in my opinion, not get enough support and useful feedback from their editor.
And this book had an editor. However, it felt a little more like a Wattpad fiction.
I feel really sad to have to say this, because I was really hoping I would be able to support Micheline by writing a good review of this book, but I think you can tell by reading this how much I struggled putting this together, and how I struggle to be honest in saying that I wouldn’t recommend this book…