Sea of Kings by Melissa Hope
Released: April 27, 2021
"Fast-paced and exciting, with well-drawn characters, humor, and a cinematic setting, this story will appeal to fantasy and adventure lovers who enjoy lots of twisty action."
-School Library Journal
This was such a fun, sea-faring middle grade adventure!
Sea of Kings follows Noa, a young prince who must venture out into seas he's been forbidden from in order to save his kingdom. When his father gifts him a magical map and urges him to follow, Noa is less than excited by the prospect. Besides--magic is only found in fairy tales, not real life. With his brother a crew of friends in tow, they steal a ship and set sail to seek help. But with pirates on their tail and creatures of the deep eager to pick a fight, Noa must figure out where the map leads before an old evil returns to destroy everything Noa holds dear.
Full of mythical creatures, friendship and brotherly love, pirates and islands--this debut isn't one you're going to want to pass up.
I loved the characters, first and foremost. They each had their own voice and were distinctly them, which I think kids and readers of all ages will really like. (Not to mention, their fun, quirky names!) The banter between them all is humorous and witty, and I loved reading their interactions throughout the book! Noa and his brother Dagan are a really great pair of brothers, and I think Hope does a very nice job of showing that brotherly love while also showing that sibling rivalry that's really relatable.
I know the protagonist is only 13, but I thought the little spark of romance/friendship was really cute! At this age it isn't really a focus, but I like that he thought about her and her safety on their adventures. I also liked that she was a no-nonsense kinda girl who found a way to help them even though she *spoiler"* doesn't make it onto the ship with them.
The world is set up well, and I especially loved the little map at the beginning drawn from Noa's POV. I think the descriptions of the islands are well done and Hope does a good job of really letting each island have its own unique thing it brings to the world. I would love to see more of these islands and really delve into this world!
The author definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering what shenanigans Noa and the gang are going to get in next. One thing I loved, and I think young readers will especially love, is that it's a truly action packed adventure. I enjoyed the additions of mythical creatures I'd never heard of (though based on creatures you do know, Hope does a wonderful job of weaving in new with the old and making it her own) and the storyline that kept me on my feet. It's perfect for young fans of Pirates of the Caribbean!
And if the ending is any indication, I am definitely looking forward to a sequel set in this swashbuckling world!