Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.
Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.
In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.
The author is truly talented in the art of description and scene-setting – gorgeous, eloquent prose that transported me to mid-1800s Hawaii, where the majority of the novel takes place.
We sailed between the coral reefs along a meandering route of deep indigo, past Quarantine Island, the little sandbar at the edge of the bay from which clouds of sulfur smoke spewed from giant fumigating ovens. The green furze beyond the gold band of the shore resolved itself into broad-leaved bananas alongside coconut palms as stately as standards, spreading breadfruit trees, and falling, tumbling masses of bougainvillea.
You can also tell that Heilig has done meticulous research into the time periods and areas depicted here – from the specific local lingo to the concepts and words that our MC Nix is careful not to use in front of certain people, because they hadn’t even been coined yet.
Do be warned that the pace is slow, but not painstakingly so – it’s more the kind of slow, steady progression where you savour the prose along the way.
The father-daughter relationship between Nix and Slate is frustrating to witness – Slate is all consumed with opium and his single-minded pursuit of going back in time to save his lover, and he puts his daughter and crew in danger multiple times to try achieve this particular goal.
There are two love-interests, but I feel that the situation was handled rather well. Nix doesn’t dither from one to the other, and quite frankly, she knows that she has bigger problems to deal with. I particularly enjoyed Kash’s wit and devil-may-care attitude, which provides some much needed brevity at certain points.
“I try to look on the bright side.” He hooked his thumbs into the waistband of his pants. “Now, unless you have regrets about what didn’t happen…”
His laughter followed me out into the hall; my ears were still ringing with it when I got up abovedecks.
Aspects of the time-travel got a tad confusing, especially when it came down to explaining the potential future ramifications of changing the past – but then again, it’s generally a concept that’s beyond me!
Finally, there’s a hint of magic (apart from the obvious time-travel) – fantasy objects and maps that exist because at some point, someone believed in them. Which is quite a lovely concept.
“The age of exploration is long over, amira. Now it’s the age of globalisation. And once everyone agrees something is one way, all the other ways it could have been disappear.”
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.