Namesake by Adrienne Young

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

Following the success of her book Fable, New York Times author Adrienne Young has published Namesake, her second book in the duology. This conclusion to the Young Adult feminist adventure addresses the relationship between a young girl and her father. Fable has had to become tough and resourceful after her mother’s drowning and her father’s abandoning her on the thief-ridden island of Jeval, where she had to beg to survive. Young has presented her story in the first person and according to Fable, her father, Saint, ‘was a bastard, but he was (hers). He belonged to (her) and even more unbelievable, (she) really did love him’ (169). She is determined to find out why her gem trader father would do such a thing and in so doing finds herself becoming a pawn in the hands of ruthless traders.

While earlier running for her life, she had thrown herself at the mercy of the Marigold crew, diving for gems, a skill she had learned from her mother.  With this crew, and especially West, she had begun to believe that she had found a home and a family, however, when she was kidnapped by a rival trader even this relationship could be torn away.

Through her adventures seventeen-year-old Fable learns more about her mother than she had ever known. She also discovers an influential trader grandmother, who ‘controlled more than the gem trade with her wealth, leaning on the guilds for whatever she needed because she was the only one with the power to return those kinds of favors’ (303). This knowledge generated the following response from members on her crew: ‘Is there a bastard from here to the Narrows you’re not related to?” (181).

All the characters have become hardened by the life they have had to live. Trades are made with ruthless people never knowing if the other party would honour the bargain. The storyline flows swiftly from one dilemma to another. It is full of suspense, danger and greed but also contains evidence of loyalty and sacrifices willingly given for those that are loved. Individuals make decisions because they have to, even if in the process others are hurt or disadvantaged. Friendships fluctuate. None of the key players are without their dark side and through the situations Fable finds herself in, she learns that ‘you never really know a person’ (41). She also comes to realises that she could love someone even if they had a dark past.

In this story, the connection to her mother becomes stronger when she makes a bargain to find a rare jewel it is said her mother stole when she ran away from her home. Fable’s skills as dredger, trader and gem sage lead her to a secret place of her mother’s, after which Fable has been named- hence the name of the book. The feeling of closeness to her mother in this place, leads Fable to finding what she seeks.

This was an interesting book to read for all ages as it includes all the ingredients for a story which engages the reader from beginning to end. There are so many twists and turns with different parties who could have a strong impact on the outcome. I thoroughly enjoyed this exciting book which promoted strong women in a male dominated world.


by Adrienne Young


Titan Books

ISBN:9 781769 094572

$17.50; 369pp

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