Eliza Chan

Författare till Fathomfolk

2+ verk 197 medlemmar 2 recensioner


Verk av Eliza Chan

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I have mixed feelings about this book.
The world building is very rich and the premise interesting.
At the same time, there were a lot of characters and I got a bit confused at the beginning, especially as the book was slow paced and I was struggling to understand what was going on.
As I carried on reading, the pace got better and I enjoyed the plot more, as well as the psychological depiction of characters like Nami, Kai and Mira.
However the resolution left me disappointed.

I want to thank Netgalley and Little, Brown Book for sending me a copy of this boom in exchange for a fair review.… (mer)
OpheliaAutumn | 1 annan recension | Apr 17, 2024 |
Originally posted on Just Geeking by.

Content warnings:
As listed on the author’s website:



Class discrimination

Coercive control

Confinement of a minority group (historical)

Corrupt government




Mild sexual content

Strong language

Verbal and emotional abuse


Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan is equal parts delight and frustration as she invites the reader to venture into a world where humans live in cities on the ocean alongside the Fathomfolk, people who have sea creature forms and magical abilities. The world-building is superb, and combined with Chan’s gorgeous writing, I felt like I had truly stepped beneath the sea. While some humans have adapted to their new neighbours, others are always looking to build walls between humans and Fathomfolk.

I liked the way that Chan chose to show the history of Tiankawi and current events through the eyes of three women from different ages and places in society. Serena, a human mother of two children and wife of the Minister of Defence, provides a view into high human society. In comparison, Nami is a dragon and considered Fathomfolk royalty, however, she has lived a sheltered life in a sea haven. When she is exiled to Tiankawi she is treated as a lesser being, a far cry from her royal upbringing, and throughout the book she learns a lot of hard truths.

Mira stands with a foot in both worlds. As a half-human, half-siren, she has struggled to find where and how she fits into either world her whole life. She has just been made Captain of the border guard and is painfully aware that the human council that promoted her is waiting for her to screw up so they can blame it on her Fathomfolk side.

Her perspective is imperative to the novel, and if I had any complaints, it is that I felt that her voice was drowned out a bit by Serena and Nami despite the synopsis suggesting that she was the main focus. Rather, it felt that Nami was more the focus, which I have no complaint about and understand it was necessary for the storyline, I’m just not a fan of being misled by a synopsis.

I mentioned that Fathomfolk is frustrating, not due to anything wrong with the novel. Chan approaches topics of marginalisation and alienation through a fantasy lens with a familiarity that is heartbreaking. It is clear that she has poured her own experience into this book, and as a disabled queer reader, many scenes were painfully recognisable.

I appreciated that Chan wove every marginalised identity into her universe. Fathomfolk features a queer normative society and as a result of the pollution humans have caused, Fathomfolk are developing a chronic illness called gill rot from spending time in the polluted water. It shortens their life span and is forcing them out of their natural habitat and onto land.

Fathomfolk is an extraordinary debut that draws on “Under the Sea” nostalgia and elements of fairytales, while also being reminiscent of the movie Waterworld. I don’t want to outright compare Fathomfolk to any of these because what Chan has created is unique and deserves to be viewed on its own merits. Fathomfolk reminds us that there is beauty in difference, but being different is a painful existence.

This is most certainly a must-read for 2024, and the way the book ends promises a dramatic sequel.

… (mer)
justgeekingby | 1 annan recension | Mar 13, 2024 |

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