I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.
Publisher: Titan Books
Published: January 2023
Series: Fable #0.5
As a boy, Elias learned the hard way what happens when you don’t heed the old tales.
Nine years after his lack of superstition got his father killed, he’s grown into a young man of piety, with a deep reverence for the hallowed sea and her fickle favour. As stories of the fisherman’s son who has managed to escape the deadliest of storms spread from port to port, his devotion to the myths and creeds has given him the reputation of the luckiest bastard to sail the Narrows.
Now, he’s mere days away from getting everything his father ever dreamed for him: a ship of his own, a crew, and a license that names him as one of the first Narrows-born traders. But when a young dredger from the Unnamed Sea with more than one secret crosses his path, Elias’ faith will be tested like never before. The greater the pull he feels toward her, the farther he drifts from the things he’s spent the last three years working for.
He is dangerously close to repeating his mistakes and he’s seen first-hand how vicious the jealous sea can be. If he’s going to survive her retribution, he will have to decide which he wants more, the love of the girl who could change their shifting world, or the sacred beliefs that earned him the name that he’s known for—Saint.
Well, Adrienne Young did it again! After making me fall in love with the Narrows in Fable and Namesake, she brought us back to this ruthless yet fascinating world to finally witness how it all started.
Saint is the perfect companion book to complement the series. It’s a prequel to Fable, so I think it works best if read after that duology and possibly after The Last Legacy too (which is a spin-off, but some of the same characters show up over here). I grew to love Saint in the Fable books and he was by far one of the most interesting characters, so my excitement for a book on him was absolutely off the charts. This was even better than I expected though, because we also got an Isolde POV!
The book alternates between chapters told from Saint’s and Isolde’s perspectives, following them on the path that will bring them to meet and fall in love. Their story is pretty much pre-determined since we know from Fable how things will work out for them, but I loved every minute spent with them and watching how they would get there.
Both Saint and Isolde are flawed characters, which makes them all the more interesting, and the stakes here are incredibly high as they risk everything they’ve built – and possibly even their lives. They work incredibly well on the page, both individually and together, and even though their relationship felt a little too YA at times I’ll excuse it because… well, this is a YA book after all. I also really enjoyed getting to know Clove a little bit better, and I loved seeing old faces pop up and new characters being introduced.
The Narrows are as brutal and ruthless as we’ve come to expect and I really enjoyed returning there. The world-building felt a little lighter this time around, but maybe that’s due to it being a prequel. I didn’t actually mind it too much (although on some things I could have benefited from a refresher!), but it could come across as a bit confusing if this is the first book in the series you’re picking up.
This is a very easy, extremely pleasant read and has the honour of being one of very few series I managed to keep up with – which is actually very, very rare for me. This just goes to show how much I love this series and this author, and I will keep coming back for as many books set in this world as Adrienne Young will write.