BOOK REVIEW: Fire in the Sea (Myke Bartlett, Text)

Sixteen-year-old Sadie is growing tired of spending her summer days lounging on the beach with her tedious cousins and her wants-to-be-more-than-a-friend Tom. She can’t wait to bid farewell to her grandparents (her parents are dead) and the dull life of her hometown Perth, and embrace the excitement and purpose that obviously comes with being an adult. Fortunately, Sadie doesn’t have to wait too long. After doing her best to save an eccentrically dressed old man from being beaten to death by some very strange looking assailants, Sadie finds herself the sole heir (conditions apply) to a huge old beachside house and its delightfully mysterious contents. From here the action really kicks off, with a storyline that involves rotting ancient sea monsters, minotaurs, gods, cults, end-of- the-world situations and an enigmatic and attractive bare-chested boy. What I enjoyed most about this book, however, was how refreshingly realistic the character of Sadie was. She wasn’t instantly an expert fighter, and right up to the end, she kept that innocent selfishness that all teenagers possess. Fire in the Sea is a magnificent tale, which young adults aged 13 and up (in particular, fans of Skulduggery Pleasant and Percy Jackson) will enjoy reading. It was the winner of the Text Prize for young adult and children’s writing in 2011.

Dani Solomon is a bookseller at Readings Carlton in Melbourne. This review first appeared in the June/July issue of Bookseller+Publisher Magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.