Author: Heidi Heilig
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Synopsis: Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own. via Amazon
Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Trigger Warning for: “savages” used to address indigenous people, violence
- Own voices!
- Captivating portrayal of culture
- Exciting fantasy world
- Well-rounded female protag
- Loved the ending!
- Cute romantic/platonic relationships
- Felt longer than necessary
- Awkward love triangle
- Didn’t directly address issue of racism toward natives
In-Depth Review: Warning: May contain spoilers.
I purposefully took a step back after reading this book because I was way too excited to jump into the review. The end of the book did something that I desperately look for in an ending: tie everything together in a way that “you didn’t see coming” but somehow still “felt inevitable”. The issue I had was, while the ending made the story for me, much of the rest of the story fell a little flat.
I’m not a fan of love triangles, but this one felt particularly useless. Not only did the main character have great chemistry with the first love interest introduced, but the second basically paled in comparison to him in every way. He was less smart, less funny, less talented, and just generally didn’t mix all that well with the world. In terms of characterization, he wasn’t awful and I actually rather liked him by the end, but he was boring, and there was never a moment that it felt like they were meant to be together or that they even really stood a chance of being together.
Along with the love triangle comes this awkward scene in which potential love interest number 1 sort of gets with someone else. It felt awkward and unnecessary, and the main protag’s response felt forced and out of place, largely because she didn’t seem to really care about having a relationship with that person until that scene in which she acts like he’s betrayed her somehow.
I think my overall biggest complaint with the book was the focus on the love triangle when there was so much more. The fantasy world was captivating, the side characters were interesting, and the history was colorful, but the story still managed to be pretty stagnant. Most of it takes place in one time period in one city and focuses on this budding relationship between Nix and one of the love-interests. It was really just a lot of wasted potential in my opinion.
The story also had a tendency to use a lot of summary during scenes I would have rather witnessed. Especially since the scenes leading up the moments of summary weren’t very interesting in and of themselves.
That being said, I did still love the book. Heilig did a great job of tying in subtleties of the world-building to bring the story to a wonderful conclusion. Nix is one of my favorite female protags ever. She’s wildly smart, pretty funny, and extremely selfless. The relationship between her and her father is complicated but also very real, and I loved watching the characters develop throughout the story.
In the end, the characters make the story, and the ending ties everything up beautifully. This book actually helped me realize what elements of craft matter the most to me, and since those elements are theme and characterization, I’d honestly recommend this book to everyone.
Final Verdict: Great book with a little too much extra fluff
“It’s illegal […] There are a lot of things that are illegal but not wrong. And probably more than are wrong, and still legal.”
“[…] he’d let me go a long time ago. After all, you can only hold one person tight if you’re holding on with both hands.”
“Of course, that’s what life is. Gathering regrets to mope about in your old age.”