The Voyages of Trueblood Cay is a truly unique book. The story connects to the Venery series, as a book within a book. In the Venery series, the character Javier is an author who writes under the pen name Gil Rafael. Here in The Voyages of Trueblood Cay, we are reading a story that Javier has written. While this book can be read as a standalone, it will be all that much richer if you have read the Venery series. As you are told this story, you will be able to peer through the looking glass to find echoes of the finch and the larks, the twins, Philip “Flip” Trueblood — the catalyst for the entire story, and even Javier himself, as well as have déjà vu at times as the stories overlap or perhaps run parallel although in different worlds.
Pelippé Trueblood is the heart of this book. He is a giantsblood and was raised by his father, a great mariner, to be a great mariner himself. Their ship is their home and Pelippé grows up surrounded by a true family made up of crew and mentors. His life takes several fateful turns when a devastating tragedy calls him to lead at a young age. He is also chosen for an incredulous task when ancient prophecy names him as the one to seek the lost Tree of Life and secure her branches back to the sky where she belongs. While Pelippé rises to the challenge, he wonders if this is all a mistake, especially when Fen, a kheiron, is the one chosen to stand by Pelippé’s side for the arduous journey.
Fen does not live as a man on two legs. As a kheiron, Fen is able to shift between man and horse, but after being abducted as a young boy and held as a slave, Fen defiantly chooses never to take his full human form again. He is forced to not only stand on two legs, but to take passage on a ship; in many ways, even decades later, Fen is still that young boy desperate to be found.
In a story built on mythology and ancient legends, where futures are inexplicably tied together and love and bravery take many forms, a sailor will set out on the journey that was written for him a long, long time ago.
This exceptional book is for fans of well written fantasy stories, but this book is also for all readers whether fantasy is your go-to genre or not. While I do favor contemporary novels more often, this book—this is the one you want to read.
When the story opens, Pelippé is a young boy trying to make sense of his world. He idolizes his father, the Kepten, and knows that as the heir, one day he will be called upon to lead. But nothing happens the way Pelippé thinks it will. Pelippé is a smart, introspective boy and his observations of the world around him layer the foundation for the story. And, there is a large foundation to his story needed. It is a long book, and it took to getting to the 25% mark for me to fully realize what the story was going to be. Once it clicked into place though, the pieces started coming together and slowly more and more pieces were layered on to make this epic tale a coming of age story, an adventure on the high seas, a story written in the stars while steeped with legends of Greek mythology, and a love story that will be told forever more.
While the story took a little while to navigate upfront, it was almost impossible to back out of it once it was over. You will become completely immersed in this world and for as long as it was, I still wanted more at the end…specifically more Pelippé and more Fen. The story slips between being in the moment and the narrator speaking to you directly, offering insight, secrets, and reminding you that this is a legend. But Pelippé and Fen have a love like no other and although their sacrifices are great, their love speaks to the one that will always find you. Fen and Pelippé were amazing characters and the author has a true gift of making her characters sail off the pages. Fen is tormented and raw, but witty, and his dry sense of humor was highly entertaining when he least wanted to be as he couldn’t help but want to show Pelippé his best side.
Javier, from the Venery series, remains an all-time favorite character of mine so it would then stand to reason that Fen will now remain one as well, with Pelippé his perfect complement. During the book, you can feel the punch of the story that came before it in Javier’s world, and if this story doesn’t try to shred you, the authors’ notes will as just when you are put back together, they try and shred you again (looking at you Javier). It took great restraint (which I am exceedingly proud of) not to skip to the end of the book once I reached a certain point, since if you know how Flip’s story ended, you will slowly die several small emotional deaths waiting to see if Pelippé and Fen’s love will live on.
There is still so much more that could be said about this book. Suanne Laqueur seemed to effortlessly slip from writing contemporary to taking on a masterpiece of myth and legend and love. It’s only the first month in the year, but this book is already one of the best I will read all year. Read the Venery series, read about the voyages of a man named Pelippé Trueblood, and when you are finished, I dare you to not want to start all over again.