Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Song Of The Sea Maid

Song Of The Sea Maid
Rating: 4.5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of Bookbridgr

In the 18th century, Dawnay Price is an anomaly. An educated foundling, a woman of science in a time when such things are unheard-of, she overcomes her origins to become a natural philosopher.

Against the conventions of the day, and to the alarm of her male contemporaries, she sets sail to Portugal to develop her theories. There she makes some startling discoveries - not only in an ancient cave whose secrets hint at a previously undiscovered civilisation, but also in her own heart. The siren call of science is powerful, but as war approaches she finds herself pulled in another direction by feelings she cannot control.

So, some of you may remember I reviewed The Visitors and absolutely loved it, so I was eager to get my hands on this and I was not disappointed! I mean, it sounded intriguing, there's all these allusions to mermaids and so on so my curiosity would have been sparked regardless of who the author was! But I loved Mascull's debut offering as I said! 

I loved the entire premise, a woman of the 18th century getting in to the field of science. It was something that was near on impossible if not completely impossible back in those times, women couldn't really do anything, so I was incredibly intrigued by this particular plot. I've been wracking my brains to try and remember if I'd ever actually heard of anything like this happening, and I have not. 

Like with The Visitors, the writing in this book was absolutely beautiful, it was a joy to read and compelling enough to keep you enthralled. The prose flowed across the pages, lyrical and vivid, with a plot that was incredibly intriguing and various settings that pull you in to the world of the book. 

I actually found this a fairly easy read, meaning that I settled down and read it in a couple of hours, I really wish it had been longer to be honest as I was sad to see the world and characters go. There's not much action in the book, but it's the compelling plot and beautiful writing that keeps you reading. As I'm sure most of you know, I'm mostly reading fantasy lately and so not much is measuring up seeing as how action packed my fantasy books are (this sentence is terrible grammar but my brain is mush right now), so it says a lot that with a book like this, that is not so heavy on the action, managed to capture my attention and keep me glued to the pages and have me raving about it! 

Due to the pace of the book, I feel like you really get to know the characters and really delve in to them, especially Dawnay. Dawnay was such an interesting character to me, mostly for the reasons I already mentioned, because you know...woman....18th century...science. Mind blowing. Like I said, I can't think of any real life instances of this off the top of my head. But surely there must have been one? I hear you all cry. Well, while my own personal historical knowledge falls short, the authors does not, and that's were the authors note comes in because we get a few examples of real life Dawnay's, as well as a book that I'm going to be needing to get my hands on because now I'm so fascinated. It truly is a hidden history, like the author says. 
This book has given me the urge to go on a hunt to find a real life Dawnay, so I'm going to be looking in to each and every female scientist mentioned in the authors note. 

Speaking of the authors note, it's a mine of information laid out concisely. I found the section on the cave paintings rather interesting as well, and sadly I am one of those people who pictures the cave paintings being done by a male in a loin cloth or something. I suck at being a feminist. Mascull however, does not, and makes the point I should have thought about before as well as giving us some more information. I can't sing the praises of the author enough, not only for her wonderful book, but for her authors note, because it's a good few pages and it covers so much, the battle, the earthquake, the islands and more. I just love being given all of this information because I like knowing what's fact and what's fiction and learning something, although to be honest, I learned a fair bit from the book itself as well as the author note. 

The only thing that bothered me only bothered me because I'm a history nerd. Any other reader wouldn't have a problem with it, and I feel like such a pain in the ass mentioning it but it's why this has got 4.5. Looking at the romance objectively, it was very well written, subtle and not at all the main focus of the plot, at least not until the very end. Looking at it from my point of view, my brain is just like "this is going against everything I know about the 18th century", but then my brain was like "oh but they really do have a connection and some chemistry" so I was a bit torn! I think another thing that bothered me about it was that I was of the opinion that she's such a smart woman, and I didn't really feel like she needed to have a romance going on, I was doing the whole "You are a strong, independent young woman" (as independent as you could be in those days anyway). I was also a bit sad there wasn't much more of a struggle shown, because things seemed to easy at times and some of the men were so accepting. But I hate saying this because you know.....loved the book anyways and I loved the authors first book! 

So anyway, Song of the Sea Maid is a beautifully written, clearly well researched novel that will enthral you with it's compelling plot and fantastic writing, as well as allowing you to explore a hidden history of sorts. You pick up information as you read, and the setting is vivid, the time period brought to life before your very eyes. The compact yet knowledgable (that's not the word I was looking for  I don't think!) authors note will pique your interest even more in this aspect of history, and round out the book by giving you more information. Information that would have bogged the plot down had it been included, although the plot does fine on it's own on the knowledge front! 

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