The Sunken City, by Emma. V. R. Noyes
Hey guys, welcome back to Bookish Beyond.
How has your week been so far?
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing The Sunken City, by Emma. V. R. Noyes.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
Young Amare lives aboard the ship, The Moonshadow as the only woman. She has long been raised to hate and fear witchcraft, and longs to become an official member of the Moonshadow’s crew. One day, after touching a peculiar conch shell in a chest, Amare starts to notice something strange about herself: she’s hearing voices and normal water doesn’t satisfy her thirst, plus her skin is drying out like crazy. During a particularly bad storm, she feels compelled to jump into the ocean waves, only to awaken and find herself in a sunken underwater city with strange humanoid beings known as Sereia.
Amare soon discovers that she is the lost princess of the Sunken City. She now has freedom from her old life aboard The Moonshadow, but at a cost: she can’t ever return to the beloved ship she used to call home.
As Amare experiences more of life as a Sereia, she learns that not everyone can be trusted.
Although there were several main characters, I’ve chosen to focus on the following four for the purposes of this review as they appeared most often. These are Amare, Shoa, Finn, and Lukas.
Amare Bellamy grew up on the ship The Moonshadow, where she was taught to fight, pillage, and take care of herself. She longs for adventure and has grown to be rather tomboyish in nature. I loved Amare for many reasons. For one, she had a wicked sense of humour and was always making sarcastic or witty comments which made me smile. Incidentally, she also shared many traits I found it easy to relate to, such as being naturally distrustful of others, stubborn, driven, and boyish. I also admired how she learned to take care of herself and how she was once driven by anger but shifted her attitude over time, to eventually be driven by love. In addition, we later learn that Amare harbours a dark secret that even she isn’t aware of. I wont spoil the reveal for you, but I will say that I found the reveal to be expected yet still highly satisfying.
Shoa is the first friend Amare makes upon finding herself in the Sunken City. The daughter to a prominent oracle, Shoa was always cheery and sweet, and possessed no discernible mental filter, leading to some interesting actions and statements on her part. She was a playful, curious, and supportive individual and made for a steadfast friend to Amare. I particularly liked how open and honest Shoa was with Amare, about everything in her life, displaying a great sense of trust with her newfound friend.
Next, we have Finn, the King’s right-hand man. Initially, Finn appears to take a strong disliking to Amare, the feeling of which appears to be mutual. Despite this initial blip, the pair do soon become allies and Finn’s more favourable traits become apparent. For example, he is a diligent and responsible individual, never shirking his duty to protect and watch over Amare, despite his initial ill feelings toward her. He was also protective of Amare in a sweet and caring way, which warmed me to him over time. Learning about his tragic past also made me feel more empathy toward him, making it more understandable as to why he sometimes seemed so guarded and serious around others.
Finally, we come to Lukas, Finn’s older brother. At first, Lukas appears mysterious and downright dangerous, having allowed his shadow self to all but consume him. However, even he possessed some redeeming features. For one, he has a sarcastic sense of humour and always seemed flirty, which only made his dangerous edge seem all the more appealing, like a classic bad boy character type. He made for a complex character, his motives never what I thought they were, always surprising me. There was also something ‘off’ about him, which I could never quite put my finger on until later on in the story. In addition, he had a difficult start to life, something which is further emphasized by the following quote-
‘Lukas lives with armour around himself.’
This speaks to the trauma he and his brother suffered in the past and how he too has become guarded, to deal with the tough hand he was dealt in life. Overall, I found him to be an admirable character, if not a little tricky to figure out at times.
There were so many things which I liked about The Sunken City, many of which are detailed below:
- I loved how the story began with a statement that immediately hooks you in-
‘On the day I ruin my mortal life, I think I’ve struck gold.’
- I liked how the Sunken City seemed relatively modern in comparison to the world above, the former having nightclubs and such, and the latter being more like the traditional pirating era. The world-building in general was fantastic and showed two completely differently settings, one above water and one below.
- There were some great and highly surprising twists in the plot, which had me on the edge of my seat, needing to find out what happened next.
- I liked how the character’s and world’s backstories were rich and imaginative, intriguing in their own unique ways. I especially liked the backstory of the Mchawi and how it was twisted, depending on who was telling the story.
- I enjoyed how Amare’s relationships with other key character’s evolved over time, especially hers with Finn’s older brother, Lukas.
- The author’s writing style is simple but beautiful, with easy to picture scenes, which were written in stunning detail.
There were several memorable quotes which I felt the need to share with you, all of which are included below.
1) ‘It’s fine not to be fine.’
I feel like this sort of message isn’t shared enough in our modern world. There always feels like there’s this unseen societal pressure to hide one’s feelings, to appear strong at all times. Maybe, what we need most, is to be allowed to drop our guard once in a while, to admit our human sense of vulnerability.
2) ‘This knowledge should terrify me. I have never needed a person like this before. It goes against everything Omar taught me- to be strong, to be independent, to never reply upon someone-else for my own well-being.’
Here, we see Amare struggling to allow herself to let someone in. She’s spent her entire life so far having been taught to stand on her own two feet. Therefore, having such strong feelings for another person catches her off guard. She doesn’t know how to handle such raw emotion, having never had the opportunity to get so close to someone before.
3) ‘There is darkness in everyone- none of us- not one, no matter how hard we try – can escape it entirely- Because the thing about the shadow self is this; it’s a part of you.’
Again, this is another excellent point which I feel is rarely brought up in our modern day society. We all have things about ourselves which we dislike, things that might make us ashamed of who we are. However, deep down, all these multiple facets of us – both good and bad – make us who we are. Without them, we wouldn’t be ourselves. A core message of this story is that it’s okay to accept these parts of us, so long as we try to hold onto the good, and to understand our shadow selves better in the long run.
Overall, The Sunken City is a colourful tale of a young woman who learns she is far more than she seems. Dealing with new aspects of her identity and a whole new environment, she does all she can to find answers to her burning questions in an attempt to understand her true nature.
Key themes included; secrets, magic, and deception.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of well-crafted young adult fantasy novels with surprising twists and memorable characters.
Would you like more information?
As always, thank you for joining me for today’s review.
If you enjoyed this post, why not share it over social media using the buttons below, or leave a comment to let us know what you thought.
Have a wonderful week,