Feathertide – Beth Cartwright

*I received a free ARC of this novel, with thanks to the author, Cornerstone / Penguin Random House and NetGalley.  The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: A girl. A secret. A life-changing journey.

A magical fairytale-inspired debut about accepting being that little bit different, for fans of The Night Circus and The Bear and the Nightingale.

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.

Feathertide is an enchanting, magical novel perfect for fans of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale.

Feathertide is a compelling blend of the mundane and the fantastical, in the form of a ‘coming of age’ fairytale.

Main character, Marea, is born with feathers and is hidden away in the basements of a brothel for most of her life, to avoid her being used or abused by an outside world that doesn’t understand her beauty. Unfortunately, this well-meaning protection leaves her full of shame and self-loathing for her physical differences, to the point of self-harm in an attempt to become ‘normal’. Thus her quest to find her father and understand her purpose is actually a journey of emotional self-discovery, as she learns to love herself and finds the world more diverse than she thought, and more forgiving than she is to herself.

There is a little romantic subplot, which I felt could have been much more than it was, and I would have loved to see more of the Sky-worshippers and mermaids, as it was the fantasy element that drew me to the book in the first place. However, the mermaids, bird people and psychics are not the focus of this beautifully spun story; they are merely the window dressing for an – actually quite simple – tale of learning to love yourself, and appreciate your differences, and those of others.

I’m not sure I would compare this to The Night Circus or The Bear and the Nightingale, as while richly written and imaginative, the plot and characterisations are less complex and the moral lessons more direct. However, I would definitely read more from Beth Cartwright – her beautiful feathered, and scaled, characters have stayed with me long after I put the book down, and I still think often and fondly of Marea and Sibel.

Jewelled colours somersaulted through the sky, momentarily mapping out new constellations in the darkness. The swish of a rocket and the swirl of a wheel. Frost shimmered on the rooftops and left long, glistening trails along the pavements. The world stood – watchful, whisperful, wonderful – counting down the minutes to the end of something frayed and worn at the edges, and to the start of something woven with promise and hope. The old unravelling into the new, when another year was safely tucked up into the warm folds of memory.
A luminous star-filled sky; wish-ready.
It was the night I was born.

– Beth Cartwright, Feathertide

You can follow Beth Cartwright on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Feathertide is available on Amazon right now!


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