Wednesday 10 June 2015

Review: Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull

Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull
Hodder & Staughton
Release date:
18 June 2015
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: In the 18th century, Dawnay Price is an anomaly. An educated foundling, a woman of science in a time when such things are unheard-of, she overcomes her origins to become a natural philosopher. Against the conventions of the day, and to the alarm of her male contemporaries, she sets sail to Portugal to develop her theories. There she makes some startling discoveries - not only in an ancient cave whose secrets hint at a previously undiscovered civilisation, but also in her own heart. The siren call of science is powerful, but as war approaches she finds herself pulled in another direction by feelings she cannot control.

Often when you read a debut novel by a talented new author you wonder if 'the difficult second book' will live up to your expectations. I never had any such worries about Rebecca Mascull's latest offering. There are some authors who you just instincively know you will love whatever they write. Rebecca Mascull doesn't disappoint.

Song of the Sea Maid opens with our (quite simply amazing) protagonist Dawnay Price as a young girl, being taken to an Asylum for the Destitute Wretches of the Streets of London after she attempts to steal the wig of a kindly gentleman who takes pity on her. 

Dawnay is quickly singled out as being different from the other 'foundlings', not only as the only street 'urchin' but also as a loner. She has made up her own mind not to make friends in the institution and instead becomes fixated on obtaining an education.

Practically unheard of for Women in general, let alone a young girl of Dawnay's background, at first she is flatly refused. But Dawnay is determined and rarely lets the word 'no' prevent her from doing what she wants.
Often when a novel begins with the protagonist as a child you are forced to skip forward through their life to adulthood where the novelist wishes you to pick up the story. There is none of that nonsense here. Rebecca artfully takes us through each stage of Dawnaty's intriguing life.
Our introduction to Dawnay's early life really sets the scene for her adventures later in life. Her benefactor having despaired and probably given up on the idea of Dawnay ever marrying, gives Dawnay his reluctant blessing for her to travel to Portugal unchaperoned (unheard of at the time) in the name of research.
As a condition of the trip she must sail with Lieutenant Commander Alexander, a man who on first meeting she is not particularly fond of. But during her journey Dawnay changes somewhat as she experiences that there is more to life than exploration (although not much in her opinion).
I can't really say much else without giving away more of the wonderful plot than I want to, so I will conclude with the fact that Song of the Sea Maid is a beautiful book, with a heroine that I now definitely have a bit of a girly crush on. A must read!

Song of the Sea Maid is available to pre-order now from Hodder & Staughton and Amazon online.

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Thank you to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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