A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Provides a real sense of the lives of people just a few hundred years ago who worked on ships or lived, traded, and worked in ports. The structure of skilled trade is even discussed, with guilds and apprenticeships.
It's dangerous for anyone in this world to form attachments, yes, but those attachments are shown as the reason for hope and survival. A reminder that relationships are complex and sometimes difficult, and both negative and positive ideas of someone often coexist.
Positive Role Models
It's hard to think of a character with more courage and perseverance than Fable. She survives on her own in a penal colony for four years and does everything in her power to leave it behind and make her own way in the world.
One character on the small crew of the Marigold is Black, and two men on the ship are gay. A few women are on the crews of ships.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Two main characters are beaten heavily and one is kidnapped. A man is tied up and thrown overboard, a woman nearly drowns in an undertow, another is knifed in the ribs, two guards on the docks are found dead, and a corpse is seen chained to a rock in the water as punishment. Talk of the death of Fable's mother in a shipwreck and her abandonment by her father soon after. Much talk of the rough life of traders who are sometimes maimed or beaten and who often have to kill to stay alive.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters sleep together once with nothing described beyond kissing, undressing, and skin contact. Much talk about brothels in the ports and the destitute lives of the children born from the sex workers.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Mostly "bastard" and rarely "ass," "hell," and "damn."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Rye is the drink of choice of sailors, and they drink it in many bar scenes and sometimes on the ship. Fable drinks away her sorrows in one scene; Willa calls her stupid and helps her throw up much of the alcohol. Story of a dad pouring rye for his 6-year-old daughter in celebration. A few characters smoke a weed in a pipe that makes white smoke.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Fable is the first book in The World of the Narrows duology by Adrienne Young (Sky in the Deep, The Girl the Sea Gave Back). Fable, the main character, has just spent four years on a thieves' island fending for herself after being abandoned by her father. Violence is milder than in Young's previous stories but still prevalent. Two main characters are beaten heavily and one is kidnapped. A man is tied up and thrown overboard, a woman nearly drowns in an undertow, another is knifed in the ribs, and two guards on the docks are found dead. The hard and often violent life of sea traders is discussed over a few drinks of rye in bars and sometimes on the ship. Fable drinks away her sorrows in one scene—and throws up much of it in the next. Some characters smoke pipes. Main characters have sex once, barely described beyond kissing and some undressing, and language doesn't get nearly as salty as the sea air, sticking mostly to "bastard."
Is It Any Good?
Seafaring adventure stories don't get much better than this gem about a tough-as-nails dredger named Fable who scrapes her way out of hardship with the help of a secretive crew. The secrets everyone holds—about family and alliances and even illicit trades—keep the reader guessing. No one ever shows their hand too early, and we stumble along like Fable does in this grim world that she desperately wants to conquer.
The best part of Fable, by far, is the titular main character. Adrienne Young has a talent for creating memorable, layered female characters. Not once does the author put her in a frilly dress. When her luck starts to turn for the better, she's not suddenly dressing like some pampered princess. Fable finally owns boots instead of going barefoot, but never once does she actually bathe. Everything about this consistently scrappy character is like the free dives she takes for treasure: very calculated, very physical, and desperate. In the dives, it's a desperation for air, and in her life, it's for the connection that she always thought was too dangerous to allow. This story will connect with all kinds of readers looking for high-seas adventure with a fantastic main character—a real treasure.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.