Beth Cartwright’s debut novel Feathertide is an enchanting tale of one young girl’s quest to find the father she’s never known.
Born covered in the feathers of a bird, and kept hidden in a crumbling house full of secrets, Marea has always known she was different, but never known why. And so to find answers, she goes in search of the father she has never met.
The hunt leads her to the City of Murmurs, a place of mermaids and mystery, where jars of swirling mist are carried through the streets by the broken-hearted.
And Marea will never forget what she learns there.
From the moment I saw the brilliant gold bird, with feathers falling, flying above the jade-green flick of a mermaid’s tail amid the sea-foam and rolling waves on the cover, I knew I had to read Feathertide.
It’s every bit as captivating as those beautiful covers suggest. Beth Cartwright’s writing cast a spell over me from the opening sentence, filling my head with Marea’s wistful voice and quickly reeling me in to her unusual world. I was utterly entranced for 400+ pages, until I turned the last page, blinking and feeling slightly drowsy, as if waking from a strange but wonderful dream.
Marea’s world feels close to ours yet other, some of it almost familiar or even recognisable in places, yet still clearly of a different time. It’s one where a girl can be born with feathers, or webbed hands and feet; when circus acts were found among those born different or willing to pretend that they were; when people’s belief rests in reading fortunes and healing remedies; where time can be re-set twice a day but still wasted; where places and their people have spell-like names, almost as if to conjure them into being, such as the Cities of Water and Murmurs or the Island of Mist, and people reach these strange and distant lands by taking passage on a sailing ship over weeks and months, or those places find their way to you with a change in the weather.
Even Marea is different; she is, after all, a girl born with feathers. One who grows up hidden away in the cellar of a house on the edge of a fishing port, rarely venturing into the town itself. When she stumbles upon the visiting circus one day, she sees how otherness is treated by the townsfolk.
As good as her personal tutor Professor Elms is, he doesn’t have all the answers Marea seeks, and she clearly can’t stay hidden away in the cellar forever, so eventually she leaves her known world behind and sets sail in search of answers and the father she’s never known. It’s a voyage that takes her far from home and everyone she knows and loves; I felt her loss keenly and hoped she would find answers or something to make it all worthwhile.
I don’t want to give too much more away; Feathertide is the kind of book you need to venture into and discover for yourself, alongside Marea. Let Beth Cartwright’s spellbinding writing weave its way into your bookish heart and wrap around you like the sea mist that envelops the City of Murmurs. I can understand why people want to bottle it, although personally, I’d never unstopper mine.
Beth Cartwright’s debut novel Feathertide is an enchanting, bittersweet fairytale of a story about a young girl’s quest to find her father. It’s one which takes her far from home, across the seas to a sinking city, a place peopled with remarkable characters, where she’ll experience love and loss but also find kindness and acceptance. Marea ends up discovering so much more than she even knew she’d gone looking for on her travels, and I urge you to embark upon the magical journey of discovery that is Feathertide with her.
Feathertide by Beth Cartwright is published by Del Rey, the science fiction and fantasy imprint at Penguin Random House. It’s published as an audiobook, ebook and in hardback with a paperback due out at the end of the year. You can find it at Amazon UK or buy it from Hive instead, where every purchase you make helps to support your local independent bookshop. You can find Beth Cartwright on Facebook, on Instagram and on Twitter.
My thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.
The Feathertide blog tour started on 27 July and runs until 5 August. See the blog tour banner for details of all the great blogs involved.