Eternal Seas by Lexi Rees
Published on Audible: April 1, 2019
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Such a small parcel shouldn’t cause experienced smugglers much trouble. But, as Finn and Aria discover, this is the most dangerous delivery of their lives. Battered by storms and chased across the globe by an evil warlord, they enlist the help of a strange witch-doctor. Together, they struggle to solve the mystery while the fate of an ancient civilisation depends on them, and time is running out …
Eternal Seas is a thrilling adventure for children aged seven to twelve.
Eternal Seas by Lexi Rees is a simple fantasy story about children coming of age in a world where people with their abilities are killed by a despotic ruler. I listened to the whole book (just over 3 hours) in one shot. I forgot the book was for children. The story is straightforward without serious info-dumps (which I always appreciate). The listener learns history of the world as needed to understand the present. While the world and characters are rich and vibrant, the story is not overly complex. Unlike many middle-grade stories, though, it doesn’t feel dumbed down. There is a natural flow to the story that smooths out the lack of adult sophistication. This leads to a serious engagement that draws the listener in and leaves them hanigng on every word, no matter their age.
The story itself is fairly standard. Children hidden from the world become aware of their powers and set off on a quest (with the aid of adults) in an attempt to save the world. But unlike most fantasy novels, the whole world isn’t at risk here, just their little portion of the population. It will be interesting to see if Rees brings that difference to play in later novels, but as the characters are fairly isolated in this one, it didn’t really come up. There is definite nudges toward understanding of future events in the book, but nothing so overt as to feel like a spoiler.
I think the most interesting thing is that I can’t figure out if the story is dystopian/post-apoc fantasy or alternate reality fantasy…Toward the end, I really think that it’s alternate reality. There are bits and pieces that overlap (jeans, GPS, etc), but for the most part the timeline is such that it would have to be an alternate world. However, with allusions toward a war and sinking of land, there’s a possibility of the post-apoc scenario as well. Either way, it doesn’t seem to REALLY matter to the story.
The performance was decent. I think this is where the story kind of lost points with me. Overall, the narrator is pretty good. It’s easy to distinguish between voices of characters, however there were a few issues I had with alternate characters. Lyssana (sp?) seems a bit out of place. ALL of the other characters we meet are from the UK, but she’s got a distinctly Caribbean accent. While it isn’t over-the-top (as can be the case in some audio books), it definitely stands out. And I can’t figure out why Pippen has such a vastly different accent. They find her in New London, but she doesn’t sound like the standard “London” accent…more Northern Ireland? Maybe a map would help?
Despite that, the narrator is easy to listen to and his voice doesn’t sound too mature to be narrating from the point of view of a 12 year old boy. He doesn’t do ridiculous falsettos for the female characters, which is a serious relief. I generally will stop listening to audio books when the narrator goes to extremes because it’s jarring. I had none of these issues with Christopher Dickens’ narration.
Breaking it down, the story would get 5 stars and the performance would get 4, leading to an overall score of 4. Grab a copy and enjoy, no matter what your age!
Author Bio –
Lexi Rees grew up in the north of Scotland but now splits her time between London and West Sussex. She still goes back to Scotland regularly though.
Usually seen clutching a mug of coffee, she spends as much time as possible sailing and horse riding, both of which she does enthusiastically but badly.
Her first book, Eternal Seas was written on a boat; the storm described in it was frighteningly real.