Author: Alexandria Warwick
Year Published: 2020
- Plot: 4/5
- Characters: 5/5
- Writing: 5/5
- Overall: 5/5
Below was a tale of love, brutality and how love can survive despite brutality. It was inspired by Inuit mythology, and it engulfed me in an unceremonious world of snarling frost and piercing cold and took me on the most enchanting ride.
How do we define our identities? Is it our faces? Our families? Our heritages? Our cultures? Our names? The legacies we leave behind? The lies and truths we tell ourselves? It’s all of these things and more. This book explored the idea of who we are when all of these fundamental things are stripped away from us, what is left to cling on to, what kind of lives we can lead if we don’t know who we are or have people around us to witness their passing.
The protagonist was Apaay, who was constantly trying to prove herself to the world and never feeling as if her efforts were enough. She wasn’t the strongest hunter or the most skilled tracker in her village, she wasn’t the cleverest or the kindest or the most beautiful. All she wanted was to be recognised and praised for something- to prove that she wasn’t useless. She loved her family and she wanted to make them proud and be able to support them no matter what.
One day, the mysterious demon called the Face Stealer struck her village and stole Apaay’s sister’s face, leaving her with only two tiny slits on her face for breathing. Torn apart by grief, sorrow and anger and the desperate desire to prove her worth, Apaay set off across the tundra to find the Face Stealer’s lair and retrieve her sister’s face. However, to accomplish her mission, she must play the games of a twisted girl named Yuki and the Face Stealer and navigate her way through a magical labyrinth.
Apaay was an amazing character and I admired her strength and determination. She was physically and emotionally battered, bruised, burnt and broken in every way but she never gave up. Her love for her sister very literally sent her to the ends of the earth. Along the way, she also went on a journey of self-discovery and realised that she was enough as she was. She didn’t need to be the best tracker or hunter or the kindest person in her village. She didn’t need to try to be someone she was not because she already was formidable in her own right- she just never realised it. She was fierce, courageous, resilient, resourceful and she persevered no matter what.
Below was an original and imaginative novel- it was impossible to predict what fantastically terrifying predicament would befall Apaay next. It’s a book that I would definitely recommend and I’m so excited for the next book in the series!
Thank you to the author for providing me with an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.