Adrienne Young’s ‘Fable’ takes us on a high seas quest for belonging

In Young’s newest duology, protagonist Fable must navigate both the treacherous waters of the Narrows as well as her new role as an independent female provider in the quest to find her absent father.


“Fable” by Adrienne Young (Macmillan Young Listeners)

Ashley Monteiro, Staff Writer

At the beginning of quarantine, it seemed as though there was an endless list of books to read and movies to watch. Seven months later, I find myself scraping the shelves to find new and intriguing novels to pass the time I’m not spending out with friends. Turns out, Adrienne Young’s adventure novel “Fable” was exactly the story I needed to whisk me off to a faraway world. 

“Fable” is set in a dimension ruled by traders and guilds on the high seas. The titular character, Fable, is a 17-year-old girl who has spent the last four years stranded on the island of Jeval after her father abandoned her following a violent shipwreck, taking her mother’s life. Alone and surrounded by hungry men who would kill for a single copper coin, Fable must fend for herself while trading undersea goods to buy passage off of the island. Fable is determined to gain freedom from her prison and locate her father to demand a spot on his crew.

Her ticket off the island is a trader named West, who runs a ship called the Marigold alongside his rag-tag team of crewmates. Together, they dodge dangerous storms and overseas enemies in order to make it safely to the city of Ceros where Fable’s father allegedly resides. As the ship makes its way through the Narrows to Ceros, the protagonist learns that there’s more to West and his crew than she realized (sounds cliche, but bear with me) as she uncovers her father’s true intentions, hidden family debts and a dangerous rivalry with a notorious trader known as Zola. 

SPOILERS AHEAD: When Zola and his crew inevitably clash with the Marigold crew, they are forced to claim a long-lost family secret by voyaging to the treacherous reef of Tempest Snare where they find the Lark: the ship on which Fable’s mother died. For the sake of brevity, the story nears its end with Fable refusing to accept the poor treatment of her father and sticking with her now-companions on the Marigold. A sudden concluding plot twist reveals itself soon after, ending the novel on a dark cliffhanger and setting the stage for the sequel “Namesake.”

Fable was one of my favorite reads in a while. I finished the book within days after spending hours with my eyes glued to each page. There were many moments that made me feel like a little kid again, holding my breath as Fable weaved her way out of sticky situations with thieving traders and the crew worked to save the ship from deadly storms. It’s a Young Adult (YA) novel, so the occasional cliche in the plotline is to be expected, but the conclusive twist Young dropped literally left my jaw hanging open with shock. Fable’s character evolution from a frightened young girl to a strong and supportive crewmate is the kind of development I’ll watch unfold over and over again, striking a chord with any reader. Although I admit there were times when the story’s pacing felt slightly rushed and I wish that some of the characters were less static, I would definitely recommend this read. I’m itching for the release of “Namesake” and the continued tribulations of the Marigold crew, and if that’s the kind of excitement you need in your life (even from a YA novel), then turn to this cool female protagonist and give Fable a try.