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Feathertide by Beth Cartwright

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Speculative Fiction | Young Adult

By Swirl and Thread

Feathertide is the debut novel from Beth Cartwright. Published with Del Rey Books (Penguin Imprint), Feathertide is described as ‘an enchanting, magical novel about accepting being that little bit different’ and is quite possibly one of the most imaginative novels I have had the pleasure of reading in recent times.

Maréa grew up hidden away from the world, in a cellar, under the protection of her mother and others. Born with feathers on her body, Maréa always knew she was different, and although frustrated by her confined existence, she mostly abided by her mother’s strict instructions to remain in the shadows, away from the prying eyes of folk. A curiosity will always draw the eye, so on days when her mother did bring her outside, Maréa wore a dark cloak, ensuring none of her feathers were ever revealed.

But as Maréa grew up she began to question her mother as to who her father was. Why was she covered in feathers? Why was she different to everyone else she knew? Maréa made the decision that when she was of age she would travel across the seas in search of the Sky Worshippers, of which she was sure her father was one.

In a fraught-filled journey across treacherous seas, Maréa arrived to the magical City of Murmurs, a place full of enchantment and some very quirky folk. Maréa, lost and awe-struck by this city of pure wonder, has an accident and finds herself under the care of the very mysterious Sybel. Here Maréa is unexpectedly welcomed and her feathers dismissed as nothing to be ashamed of but something to wear with pride. Maréa, unused to this reaction, remains covered up, not quite ready to let the world see who she really is.

The City of Murmurs is a place full of enchantment and strange happenings. Venice must surely be the inspiration with its descriptions of a city, with many bridges, surrounded by water. Maréa makes some amazing discoveries as she walks the streets of this city of wonder. She realises that she is not the only person who has unique attributes and she discovers that, in general, people are too busy with their own lives to care.

As Maréa searches for her father, waiting for the mist to arrive, she explores her own feelings, attractions and sexuality. She meets someone like herself, someone who is unafraid of exposing herself to the world, someone who Maréa is in awe of. This first-time exploration of self opens up huge possibilities for Maréa but is she brave enough to let the world see her properly? Has she the courage to throw off her cloak and come out to the world as she really is?

Although Feathertide is a magical, fantasy novel. the underlying message is very clear. Be true to yourself and do not be afraid to show the world who you really are. Be brave. Be courageous.

“Don’t be afraid of what makes you different. Lose your disguise”

Feathertide is a very atmospheric and visual read set in a quirky world of magical realism. Beth Cartwright has delved deep into the imagination creating a mix of fascinating characters and mystical places. Feathertide is an inventive tale, a fairytale that will captivate and charm the reader. Maréa’s character is wonderfully depicted. Her trepidation, fear, curiosity and courage are palpable throughout as she discovers her past and sees her future ahead. Maréa navigates a very unsteady path, but with each step she takes, she gets closer to her true self.

Feathertide is an enticing and seductive tale that will enthrall and mesmerise all who get lost within its pages. An offbeat read, Feathertide will appeal to readers looking to go on an unconventional and original journey, one that will take them down a rabbit-hole into the fantastical world of Maréa and the City of Murmurs.

‘The Keeper of the Hours kindly held a candle above my head so I could make out the letters more clearly: The City of Murmurs.
“What does it mean?” I asked
“Perhaps it simply means that you will never forget what you find here; it will always call to you’

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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