Ships, Secrets, and Survivors, the debut novel by Sarah Rodecker and Helena George, caught my eye when it was announced. It promised assassins on the run, swashbuckling pirates, and mysterious murders. As I had never read a pirate fantasy novel before, I didn’t know what to expect when I picked it up, but I was not disappointed.
From the very first page, I was thrown into a unique world with talking ships and plenty of knives to spare. Ravin, an assassin-in-training, runs away from his prestigious family of killers, risking death if he is discovered. Then, a few weeks later, his name is announced at Selection Day, an annual event that picks young men and women to compete for the chance to become ambassadors. Since Ravin never wanted to be a part of this program, he sets out to find the person who volunteered his name. However, he ends up with more serious problems on his hands as a series of mysterious murders occur. With the murderers on his tail, he joins forces with others chosen on Selection Day, including the Princess Adi. They journey with the crew of the Red Wind, whose goals is to take down the elusive Captain Martin and the assassins in league with him.
The story’s plot is consistently engaging and fast-paced. Battles ensue around every corner against sea dragons, assassins, and pirates. At the same time, though, it’s the little moments that really make this story shine. The interactions among the Red Wind’s crew, such as an archery competition, were entertaining and made me smile. The Red Wind herself, a talking ship, adds a splash of magic to the book with her interesting insights and her relationship with the crew. My personal favorite scenes were the touching conversations between Ravin and Adi late at night. They really showed the depth of these characters.
While some of the minor villains could use more character development, most other characters were deep and fascinating. Ravin’s story really struck me in particular. His journey of moving on from his fear of the past was touching, and while I won’t give away the book’s ending, his arc had a satisfying conclusion. Meanwhile, Adi’s character arc was the most interesting. It was a fantastic way of saying our dreams can come true, even if it’s not in the way that we expect. However, the most powerful theme was one of self-sacrifice, of fighting against evil, and of pushing past personal fears to do the right thing. And that is what will stick with me most of all from this book.
Ships, Secrets, and Survivors was an interesting, engaging book with great messages. I closed the book with a bittersweet, yet satisfied, feeling. And while it works well as a standalone, book two will surely be an entertaining addition to the series.
If you would like to win a paperback copy of this book, please leave a comment by September 24. This would make a great gift for the teen book lover in your life!
About the Author
Nicole Dust is a Catholic dark chocolate lover who spends way too much time listening to musicals. Her love of the fantastical leads her to tell stories about other worlds, magic, and broken characters needing redemption. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching YouTube, blogging at legendofawriter.blogspot.com, or taking bookstagram pictures with the handle @nicoledustwriter.