Novella Review: Up From the Sea by Amanda Dykes

A lot of people have been talking about author Amanda Dykes recently. She recently published the first book in a new series, both titled Whose Waves These Are. The series caught my attention because it is set during WW2 and features poetry. I may not sit and read poetry on its own very often, but I love when authors incorporate various art forms into their stories, especially poetry.

Around the same time that Whose Waves These Are was publishing, Dykes also released a shorter prequel story titled Up From the Sea. To be completely honest, I don’t remember exactly how I ended up with this ebook; probably either from Kindle Unlimited Books or via Book Cave. Regardless, I spontaneously decided to read it, and I fell in love with the story. Fancy and floral dividers (2)

Title: Up From the Sea (Whose Waves These Are #0.5)

Author: Amanda Dykes

Genre: Historical Fiction (1920s America)

Synopsis (from Goodreads): When Savannah Mae Thorpe visits her family in New England, she learns the future of the land she’s inherited is in question. She finds help from a local lumberjack–who holds a shadowed past of his own–to discover the truth of a local legend and save her land. But her expedition may have unexpected ramifications on her life–and the lives of those around her.

Content to be Aware of: Nothing worth noting!

Fancy and floral dividers (2)

Thoughts

I read Up From the Sea in a week’s worth of lunch breaks. It is a perfect escape over lunch; the story quickly pulled me in, and did not require much setting up, but it also was not too intense to read with a time constraint. I was hooked from the first, but it is also light enough that I didn’t get bogged down at any point.

Savannah Mae Thorpe is a likable protagonist. She’s down to earth and just quirky enough to make her distaste for her cousin and most “nice” things palatable. She stands up for herself without being pushy, and generally is someone I would like to get to know!

Savannah’s mother draws what is essentially a treasure map of special places on her family’s Appalachian land as a little girl, and eventually passes down the map, the land, and a legend to her daughter. The legend is well known in the area, albeit with significant variations. When Savannah’s Uncle, who is now responsible for Savannah’s land until she comes of age, threatens to sell the land unless Savannah produces a financial reason to keep it, Savannah follows the legend and her mother’s map to find something to change his mind. She uncovers secrets and adventures with her cousins and a few friends. One friend in particular, a lumberjack, is especially helpful and intriguing.

The pacing is very well done. Since this is a novella, there isn’t much time for background explanations, but Dykes includes enough information to  give a good context. The characters are developed enough, though in a longer work I would want to know a lot more, especially about some of the side characters like Savannah’s cousin Mary. I am pleased that the cousins are able to get along despite their different style and preferences. There is no animosity between them, just confusion and sometimes frustration, but ultimately you can tell that they all do love each other.

There are some romance elements, but they are subtle. This side of things is fairly predictable. There really are never any other options considered, which may make it seem like the story wraps up a bit too well, but I am content with it.

Verdict

I enjoyed this story very much, and cannot wait to read Whose Waves These Are! This was my first book my Amanda Dykes, and I am certain it will not be my last. I highly recommend Up From the Sea to fans of historical fiction, family reconciliation without too much melodrama, light and fun (but short) adventures, and Christian fiction. There is not much Christianity in the story, but it does come up rather suddenly towards the end.

 

Until the next chapter,

Jana

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