Marea is born with a unique trait of mysterious origin – golden bird feathers covering her body. As a girl, her mother convinces her that unique avian qualities make her special and beautiful. But as Marea grows older, she realises that her feathers are the reason she is kept hidden away from the world, and so she slowly begins to resent them. One birthday, Marea’s desire to understand herself drives her out into the world, hoping to find her father and discover her who she truly is.
“When I asked her where my feathers had come from, she laughed and told me they were a gift, but from who, she wouldn’t say.”
Cartwright applies a lyrical, visual writing style to describe a journey of self-discovery with a dreamlike quality that reminds me of a Studio Ghibli film. Reading Feathertide immediately after a fairly action-packed fantasy novel was an adjustment, but a pleasant one. In the early chapters of the book, I think I was waiting for ‘more’, but I was drawn into Marea’s journey and touched by the moments of earnest kindness and profound sadness that teach her about the world. Feathertide finds beauty in small moments – it is a book to be experienced rather than devoured.
I find it strange that out of all the fictional characters I’ve read recently, I identify most with a half-bird girl raised in the cellar of a brothel. But I think this book will resonate with anyone who’s had to overcome their self-doubt to connect with others.
Feathertide releases in the UK on 30th July 2020 and is available for pre-order.
Thank you to Netgalley, Del Rey Books and Beth Cartwright for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.