The Isles of the Gods by Amie Kaufman

The Isles of the Gods by Amie Kaufman – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Fantasy, magic, pirates, romance, legends.
YA book title: The Isles of the Gods.
YA author: Amie Kaufman.
Genre: Fantasy.
Published by: Rock The Boat Books.
ISBN: 9780861545810.
Recommended for children aged: 13+ year-olds.
First published: Hardback May 2023.
This YA book is ideal for: KS3 & KS4 fantasy fans.

The Isles of the Gods by Amie Kaufman

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Our review:

Many centuries ago, a young king called Anselm bravely sacrifices himself in order to bring an end to a devasting war between the seven children of the Mother Goddess. It’s the start of a centuries-long promise – every twenty-five years, one of Anselm’s descents must visit the Isles of the Gods and make their own sacrifice to appease the gods and keep them asleep.

Five hundred and one years later, playboy Prince Leander is running late for his part of the deal, and the delay is leading to rumblings of war.

“It’s not that I thought I’d live forever. I just didn’t expect this kind of advance notice about when I was going to die.”

Meanwhile, in the port city of Kirkpool, deckhand Selly is desperate to escape her overbearing captain Rensa. Left on the Lizabetta when her father sailed north a year ago, Selly has been trying to live up to her father’s seafaring legacy and forget about her disappointing lack of magical talent.

When she receives word that her father isn’t returning home as planned, Selly intends to run away to find him. But before she can escape, the Lizabetta is commissioned for a clandestine royal mission – to carry the Prince on a secret (and belated) mission to the Isles of the Gods.

The Isles of the Gods.
A group of islands not marked on any map, each home to a sacred temple to one of the gods, or to the Mother herself. It’s forbidden to set foot on them … nobody would ever consider landing there

Forced to obey orders, Selly is reluctantly drawn to Leander and the mysterious scholar Keegan who has joined the crew on his own mission. But unknown to the new allies, a pair of reluctant assassins have been set on their tail. Ordered to kill the Prince, they risk not only starting a human war but also reigniting a centuries-old divine battle, as sleeping gods begin to awake and the whole world is threatened.

My world has always been confined to the deck of my ship, or a quick trip ashore for a few hours in a foreign port. I know the smell of timber and salt and tar, not the stink of backstabbing and blood.

Soon Selly finds her loyalties and seafaring abilities put to the test as magic and political intrigue combine in a clash of gods and destiny on the high seas.

The Isles of the Gods is the first in a new fantasy series by the author of the bestselling Aurora Cycle and The Illuminare Files. The world-building is detailed and innovative, with the sea-faring aspect and an element of steam-punk styling adding an original twist to the fantasy genre staples of magic and folklore.

While mainly focusing on Selly, some chapters provide alternative narrators, adding depth and richness to the narrative and giving the reader a strange sense of empathy with even the most morally corrupt protagonists. The diversity of the characters, as well as their complicated personalities, is refreshing and adds to the immersive nature of the tale.

There is a hefty dose of quite gruesome violence, which could make the book unsuitable for younger readers. This is a world that you may not want to necessarily live in but are happy to join for extended periods of time to relish the adventure.

The Isles of the Gods is a rich, swash-buckling adventure that will appeal to fans of Tamora Pierce and Kalynn Bayron.

Many thanks to Rock The Boat Books for the review copy.

If you like The Isles of the Gods by Amie Kaufman you might also like: our reviews of Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher, This Book Kills by Ravena Guron, The Boy Lost in the Maze by Joseph Coelho, Stone by Finbar Hawkins, Unraveller by Frances Hardinge, Once Upon a Fever by Angharad Walker and When Shadows Fall by Sita Brahmachari.

The Isles of the Gods by Amie Kaufman is featured in our list of best books coming out in summer 2023 | Browse our list of books for KS4

About Melanie Dillon

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Melanie has a Master’s degree in Information and Library Management; a Post Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature focusing on the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme & LGBT YA fiction, and extensive experience working in school and public libraries. Linkedin | Reviews by Melanie Dillon