Song of the Abyss is a sequel that does not disappoint and yet succeeds in its own right as a standalone novel.
In our Redeemed Reader review to Isle of Blood and Stone, we concluded,
“It is hard to find a good YA, and teens will not be disappointed by Isle of Blood and Stone. Lucier is a new author, and we don’t know what direction she will go with her sequel. If she continues in the same vein as Isle of Blood and Stones, her next story will be well-worth reading.”
—And it surely was!
Song of the Abyss by Makiia Lucier, HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019. 368 pages.
Reading Level: Ages 15 and up
Recommended For: Ages 15 and up
Over a decade has past since Isle of Blood and Stone. Some of our favorite characters are still around, but the focus has shifted to Reyna —a budding mapmaker and explorer.
Plucky, resourceful, and oblivious to her own charm, Reyna is a wonderful heroine. As the story opens, a midnight attack leaves Reyna stranded on the neighboring and only slightly friendly island of Lunes. A handsome stranger proves a hindrance —why does he insist on wanting to help her? But more concerning, why has most of the crew of Reyna’s ship vanished?
Lucier creates a rich multi-ethnic fantasy world where seafaring connects a multitude of island cultures, and mapmakers like Reyna seek to understand each culture. It is not always an easy world for Reyna to navigate, especially when she insists on mapmaking instead of settling down to proper society and marrying. Wise readers will realize this world, though very different, is not so different from our own at times.
While raising thought-provoking questions, Lucier does not rely on agendas, typical YA romance, or “issues” to make her story successful. Instead she simply tells a good story with strong themes of friendship, loyalty, and courage. It is a story many fantasy-loving teens will enjoy. Some will read it for for the seafaring, some for the touch of romance, but it will capture most with its well-spun adventure and world-building.
Like Megan Whalen Turner, Lucier is creating her own world and rich characters. Hopefully, like Turner, she will fill several more books with their adventures. Here is a rare sequel that will make readers want to re-read the first book again —merely to get one more taste of the world and to revisit and remember characters.
- Supernatural (ghosts play a minor role in the adventure)
- Sexuality (a pregnant woman is affected by a shock and blood is mentioned though a miscarriage does not occur)
Overall Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
- Worldview/moral value: 4
- Artistic/literary value: 5
Note: This reviewer received an advance reader copy of the book in exchange for a fair review.
Reyna is self-sufficient yet not unrealistic as a strong female heroine. For other notable female heroines in fantasy, see our recent Robin Hood post, Reading Robin McKinley, and Retro Reads Vesper Holly. For wonderful fantasy world-building, don’t miss the Monster Blood Tatoo Trilogy and, for a slightly younger audience, the Septimus Heap books.