“Adventurous and dangerous! Fate and fires, pirates and shadowmen, Song of the Current will carry you into a treacherous and fantastic world, which you will not want to leave.” —Stephanie Garber, author of Caraval
From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark. Song of the Current by Sarah Tolscer had been on my watch list for awhile, then my June TBR, so as soon as it was released in Canada on June 6th, 2017, I was off to the book store to pick it up! And it did not disappoint – Song of the Current instantly swept me away to a world of fantasy, pirates and danger that is not to be missed!
Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will. Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.
I was instantly impressed by the depth of world-building Tolscer was able to engage in, without making the beginning of the book feel like a complete information dump. Infusing a quick-to-the-action plot with plenty of detail, Tolscer dives write in, wasting no time flinging her heroine, a sassy and independent teenage wherrywoman by the name of Caro, into dangerous waters. Fans of action, fantasy, romance and pirates will surely find something to love in this one, since there’s a plethora of all that, and more.
Now let’s get to my favourite part – the strong female characters that riddle the pages of this book! Evidently there’s Caro (Caroline Oresteia), our swash-buckling, fearless heroine with plenty to say and even more tricks up her sleeve. But the fun doesn’t end there – there’s Fee, the female frogmen who travels with Caro and her father. She may be a woman of few words, but her words have power, and she, like Caro, is versed in the ways of the river, in addition to be unafraid of taking on pirates and shadowmen, among other roguish figures. Then there’s Kente, Caro’s vivacious and headstrong cousin, who is not only a rebellious runaway, but the keeper of a dark and powerful secret. And last, but not least, is Caro’s Ma – a woman whose power precedes her, who has carved a path for herself in the business world of men. These women shape the direction of the story, and leave the men of the tale – Caro’s father, Markos, pirates and emperor’s alike – no choice but to follow their lead.
“Caro’s description of her boat home, the Cormorant, will make even readers unfamiliar with sailing feel as though they belong on the water with her. Tolcser blends the right amount of epic fantasy, sea voyage, and romance for a rollicking, swashbuckling adventure. – Kirkus
Turning my attention to the story and writing quality, I have to say – I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knowing Tolscer was a first-time author, I was definitely expecting something a bit more juvenile and simplistic. And while the writing was definitely a bit juvenile in it’s tone, Tolscer made up for it with the quality and pace of the plot, in addition to enough twists to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. So no, Tolscer’s writing isn’t fantastic, but it certainly doesn’t distract from the fantastic tale she’s managed to weave.
Overall, Song of the Current is definitely one to add to your shelves! Full of action, deception, romance, and (of course) pirates, Tolscer has woven together everything you could want from a YA Fantasy book about a young woman trying to find her way among the people of a harsh and unforgiving river (4/5).