When a mysterious boy washes in on the tide, the citizens of The City believe he is possessed by The Enemy, the god who drowned the world, returning to cause chaos and destruction. A fearless young inventor believes he is innocent, but can she save him? This is a terrific debut of strange myths and dark secrets, fierce loyalties and ruthless villains, told against the thrilling backdrop of a half submerged city. A second book will follow in 2021.
Oxford lecturer Struan Murray makes a splash debut with Orphans of the Tide (illustrated by Manuel Šumberac, Penguin), and effortlessly joins the ranks of the most skilled world-creators. A strange boy is cut out of the belly of a whale in a half-drowned city governed by a harsh religion (shades of Philip Pullman here).
The Inquisitors think he is a “Vessel” – a human host for the monstrous Enemy that plagues this lonely island civilisation. But Ellie, an orphaned inventor, knows he isn’t, and struggles to save him from the witch hunt. Unpredictable, filled with plot twists and shades of moral grey, Orphans of the Tide is both gripping and original – it demands a sequel.
Energetic and inventive, not least about inventions, and with some startling surprises, this is also touching about friendship, siblings, loss and courage. The first book of a sequence, it offers a satisfying ending that can also be another beginning.
The children’s best hope is the discovery that Hestermeyer uncovered the Enemy’s weakness before he died, but the pages of the diary recording the secret have been torn out of each of the copies. Can the kids discover them, protect the children in the Orphanage and stay alive themselves? There are some wonderful unexpected twists and Murray, a lecturer at the University of Oxford, has an extraordinary imagination. Blissfully, the end feels like the start of a new adventure. Murray can’t write it fast enough.