Published: 25th July 2012 by Text Publishing
Format: Paperback, 264 pages
Goodreads ● Booktopia ● Bookworld
Sadie is sixteen and bored with life in Perth. It’s summer, and lazing on the beach in the stifling heat with her cousins and Tom is a drag. Then something comes out of the sea.
Dark menacing forms attack an old man, leaving him for dead and Sadie wracking her brains to understand what she saw. Then there’s a mysterious inheritance, a strange young man called Jake and a horned beast trampling the back yard.
Sadie finds herself caught in the middle of an ancient conflict that is nearing its final battle, a showdown that threatens to engulf Perth and all those she loves in a furious tsunami.
A fast paced Australian debut, Fire in the Sea is an enjoyable read that I was able to finish quickly, but it left me a little disappointed and I hope there is more coming! Set in Perth and centred around the water, this book deals with Atlantis and the Minotaur – two of my favourite aspects of history and mythology. I’ve actually studied the Atlantis mythology on great detail, but I loved the unique spin Bartlett puts on it.
The protagonist, Sadie, grabbed my attention from the very first page. There’s something fragile about her – she always seems to be one comment away from breaking down, many years after the death of her parents. Sadie’s grief over the death of her parents permeates all the relationships she has – from her cousins to her best friend Tom. I didn’t like the way Sadie treats him – it’s a negative, abusive relationship where Tom takes all the harsh comments and snark in stride, and never stands up for himself, which I was disappointed in. Though Tom’s strength is entirely different from Sadie’s, I think they are both awesome individuals.
Sadie lives with her grandparents, and both of them are caring people who I loved from the moment I met them. Unlike the situation in many other YA novels, this book doesn’t have any uncaring or neglectful authority figures – everyone around Sadie loves her and only wants what’s best for her.
Fire in the Sea offers a whirlwind adventure with an Australian twist, with plenty of action and mystery thrown in to keep readers engaged. A fresh twist in the usual sea-themed myths, this book focusses on the destruction of a city a long time ago, and the revenge a Priestess wishes to extract on the Guardians who brought it about. Sadie meets Jake, a Guardian and the leader of a Guardian crew, charged with protecting the world from the wrath of the Priestess. I really enjoyed the lead up to the final show down between the two groups, but was disappointed in how it played out in the end.
I felt disconnected from the action and couldn’t really summon up the sympathy I knew I was meant to. A part of this has to do with my view that Sadie was incredibly selfish in wanting Jake to save her friends, her family and her city, risking the fate of the entire world. I understand what she wanted, and why, and I empathise with her. I just feel that Jake made all the sacrifices in their dynamic and in the end Sadie was left pretty much unchanged and unharmed. There are also lots of questions that are brought up in the book but go unanswered – I hope that these are addressed in the sequel.
Myke Bartlett is an author to watch – Fire in the Sea is an impressive debut and I’m looking forward to seeing his writing evolve in the future. Fans of Australian literature, especially Australian Fantasy, will enjoy this book a lot, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a fresh, quick YA read.