Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.
Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.
From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.
While I started The Song of the Current a while back, I put it down because the beginning didn’t draw me in. I didn’t pick it up again after thinking about starting a fantasy that takes place in the sea (or river, in this case). With an immersive fantasy world, action-packed plot that delivers adventure, and a sassy
pirate I mean, privateer with precious cargo, this book did not disappoint! Especially after Caro’s defiant nature opens the precious cargo she was charged to deliver. After that event, the plot really gets rolling.
“The god at the bottom of the river speaks to wherrymen in the language of small things. And to the Oresteia family, always. Every one of them, going back to our blockade-running days.
I really enjoyed the fantastic world-building that the author put into the story. Much of the action happens on the water, be it the river or sea. Basically, Caro’s father gets held hostage as she’s tasked by the ruler of Kynthessa to deliver an important crate to another nation. However, this gets Caro involved in a political scheme happening between Akhaia and the countries that are receding from its land. Suddenly, the ruler, or Emparch, is discovered dead in Akhaia and Caro must hurry to deliver its prince to safety while the usurper of the Emparch tries to kill him using hired pirates.
One of my favorite parts of the world was the folklore that Tolcser weaves into the story. Caro knows that the river god has spoken to her father and other descendants of her family, but she’s frustrated that she cannot hear him. On the other hand, the prince’s god in Akhaia really only talks to the oracles of the land and not common people. I thought this was a really interesting aspect of the story that no doubt will get more attention in the sequel. The politics of the plot was also really easy to follow as republic nations start coming up, drawing attention to elected counsels instead of royal descendants – perhaps this will be the future for the other countries?
Caro’s biracial first person POV narrative was really fun to read from. There’s a lot a cool things she does for her ship, the Cormorant, as a wherryman that only added to the world. The adventure she embarks on also brings her closer to her family, who was always split between her wherryman father and merchant mother’s side of the family. While she grew up in the Cormorant wearing plain and accessibly sailing clothes, she also visits her mother’s side of the family where she wears elaborate dresses and goes to lavish parties. It’s a huge discrepancy, and Caro finds herself at odds with the two sides of her heritage. I like the balance that she eventually gets between the two, and also the loving relationships she has with both her parents. The family dynamics in this book was really well-done, and one of the highlights of it for me.
There is a very light and sweet romance that happens for Caro, which I really liked. It’s a wary-distrust relationship that’s quite antagonistic until the characters talk it out and really begin to understand one another. Their banter was super fun and sweet, especially as both characters have gone through some rough waters and find empathy from the other. I also like the fact that it’s a balanced relationship. Caro doesn’t let feelings stand in the way of her independence and the love interest respects her and her decisions (especially when it’s obvious she knows much more than him about things). Overall it was really sweet and shippable, with a light atmosphere that really suited the high-paced action of the book.
“‘We’re stronger together than apart. Don’t you think?’”
With a setting on a ship like Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller and a band of wherrymen, reminiscent of the gruff pirates in The Reader by Traci Chee, Song of the Current brings another water voyage with resilient and tough lady characters, an enchanting world steeped with folklore, and loving relationships from friends and family alike. The book ends with a nice resolution, but there is no doubt more things in store for Caro and her shipmates as they discover more of themselves and how that will change the world around them. I for one can’t wait to leap on the journey the next book will take us on!
Thank you Bloomsbury for the review copy!