For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.
There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.
But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she's not about to stop
I pre-ordered this book and found it in my inbox earlier than expected, which was awesome and leads me to this unique reviewing opportunity.
When I heard this pitched as Pacific Rim meets lesbian pirates, I knew I had to read it. If the second part of that pitch troubles you- don’t worry, the romance is actually really swoony and doesn’t play a role in the novel until the 2nd half (the best half obviously).
Cassandra Leung has been worked all her life to train Reckoners, sea monsters that are taught to destroy and attack pirate ships. In a world where sea travel is imperative and countries have fallen to lack of order, Reckoners are vital to the survival of many ships. On Cassandra’s first day solo on the job, everything goes wrong. She finds herself kidnapped by Santa Elena, a vicious pirate queen, and now she has to train a Reckoner pup to hunt for the pirates. To stay alive, she must betray everything she’s ever been taught and create a monster.
In terms of the plot, I loved how fast it progressed. The above summary literally happened within 3 chapters of the novel, and it was very fast-paced.
I also really enjoyed the world-building. I think that the pitch of Pacific Rim meets lesbian pirates works so well. Reckoners are genetically engineered creatures who fight sea monsters and while that’s not really Pacific Rim (who are metal/robotic machinery) the bond between trainers and their creatures has the same mentality. (Oh and you know, the awesome sea-fight scenes are all there.)
The romance was undoubtedly my favourite part. As it started off as a love-hate relationship, I was in-between states of cursing the characters and wanting them to make out.
As I mentioned above, the romance is f/f and I thought it was done so well. Swift, the love interest, was technically Cassandra’s guard and I really appreciated how they acknowledged that power dynamic. Nothing happened between them, as they decided it wouldn’t, until they had “equal footing” (as they themselves described it). They both understood that it wouldn’t be right for anything to happen between them while one of them technically controlled the fate of the other. It was just perfect.
Overall, The Abyss Surrounds Us was an amazing debut novel that I highly recommend to fantasy/sci-fi fans or for people who love sea monsters and swoony pirates.