Song of the Abyss - When a whole country only has one character trait
title: Song of the Abyss
author: Makiia Lucier
pages: 352
format: eARC
buy it: Amazon | B&N | BookDepository | Goodreads
rating: 3/5

Sole survivor of a pirate raid

Reyna, an apprentice mapmaker and geographer, is on her way home from her latest expedition when the ship is attacked by raiders. All of the crew mysteriously put up no resistance, and only Reyna is able to escape by jumping into the sea. After a few hurdles, she makes it back home and finds out hers isn't the only ship to have suffered such a fate: all around the sea others have turned up, missing only the crew but otherwise un-raided and un-harmed. Reyna is added to an expedition to an isolationist country, along with a vexing prince and a hope that they'll find the missing men during the journey.

Characters that make me giddy

Reyna is so much fun. She was a minor character in the previous book, and she hasn't lost a bit of her precocious spirit or energy here. Once again the author has managed to make both main and side characters incredibly warm and lively without seeming to even try, because people who only show up for a few pages still wind up memorable.

The mystery and adventure aspect of this book is ramped up relative to the first, with everyone constantly on the move and discovering new place and new clues. The romance continues to shine, although it's another pair of "adorable dorks who need to just admit it already." My favorite, so I don't care. Give me all the stubborn pining fools! I was absolutely giddy while reading this. Well...most of this...

So, about that world...

Yeah, you knew there was a but coming. In the last book, there was a little bit of "every country has one trait," but it was more of a reputation than a literal thing. del Mar was explorers because they had the famous geography school. Caffeesh was scholars because they had the big famous college. Etc, etc. Because none of the characters traveled, that was perfectly fine, as we got to meet plenty of people in our one country of focus and see the variety of persons within. In Song of the Abyss, however, there's a lot of moving around and...yeah, every country gets one personality trait.

Even worse is the new country they visit, based on ancient China, which is portrayed as backwards, superstitious, and brutal. We spend a bit more time in this place and get to see a greater variety of individuals, but the overall culture is presented relentlessly negatively and they even wind up colonized by the end. (Ish. More or less. Colonized in all but name.) The whole thing left such a bad taste for me that for the later half of the book I had a real hard time finishing, and I know others (especially any Chinese readers) will probably take issue with it even more than I did.

Will I read this author again? I still like her characters, but I'll be more picky going forward
Will I continue this series? Alas, no more have been announced for this series yet

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