"Shifting supernatural borderlands inspire awe and ancient gods mirror very human desires in a fear fable that balances complex philosophy with relentless, image-packed action. Tobler creates a fluid, transformative universe that's equal parts exhilaration and terror."
— Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Fifteen-year-old Jackson is different from the other children at the foundling hospital. Scales sometimes cover his arms. Tentacles coil just below his skin. Despite this Jackson tries to fit in with the other children. He tries to be normal for Sister Jerome Grace and the priests. But when a woman asks for a boy like him, all that changes. His name is pinned to his jacket and an orphan train whisks him across the country to Macquarie's.
At Macquarie's, Jackson finds a home unlike any he could have imagined. The bronze lions outside the doors eat whomever they deem unfit to enter, the hallways and rooms shift and change at will, and Cressida — the woman who adopted him — assures him he no longer has to hide what he is. But new freedoms hide dark secrets. There are territories, allegiances, and a kraken in the basement that eats shadows.
As Jackson learns more about the new world he's living in and about who he is, he has to decide who he will stand with: Cressida, the woman who gave him a home and a purpose, or Mae, the black-eyed lion tamer with a past as enigmatic as his own. The Kraken Sea is a fast paced adventure full of mystery, Fates, and writhing tentacles just below the surface, and in the middle of it all is a boy searching for himself.
|Publisher:||Apex Book Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.31(d)|
About the Author
E. Catherine Tobler has never run away to join the circus — but she thinks about doing so every day. Among others, her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and on the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award ballot. Her first novel, Rings of Anubis, launched the Folley & Mallory Adventures. Senior editor of Shimmer Magazine, you can find her online at www.ecatherine.com and @ecthetwit.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I’ll admit it at the outset here, I loved everything about this book. It shows what can happen when a gifted and talented writer gives her story full rein and lets it run free. To spectators, an athlete and even professionals in any field makes their efforts ‘look easy’ and Tobler is no exception. She is a pro that makes it look easy. Hemingway said good writers understand icebergs, that is, the dignity of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water. Here, Tobler lets the creepiness, vague feelings, tentacles, scales and even the Kraken Sea itself live ‘under the surface’, while she is content to only show us readers the tip of the iceberg. She lets us readers imagine and explore the depths of the iceberg for ourselves. The story begins with the main character, Jackson, in an orphanage. He doesn’t understand what he truly is, but only knows he isn’t quite as human as the other orphans. That is why he reaches fifteen years old before a mysterious woman on the opposite side of the continent offers to take him in. Her huge mansion contains secrets and mystical wonders and he soon feels at home with the other forms of non-humans around him. But he is still torn with why he was adopted, what he really is and what he wants to be. Of the two girls he meets, one is human and works in a bakery and he likes the idea of being with her as a human. The other girl he meets, Mae, is a lion-tamer in a circus-type of venue and she definitely is not human. Tobler weaves her story so well, this entire plot concept seems perfectly natural in this Kraken world where we only see the tip of the iceberg. As readers we all know when we are simply passing the time on our lunch-hour or when we can’t wait to pick up the book and read more, so we can get back into the imaginary world the author created. That’s when we’re caught between taking it all in and finishing the book too quickly or, to read slowly to savor the whole experience. I took my time reading this book so I could imagine the underneath part of the iceberg. Phillip M. Johns
I’m sad to say that I didn’t get The Kraken Sea. The atmosphere of the story is stunning. Dark, gritty with just enough mystery to keep me reading, but I struggled so much with the plot. Here’s what I know. Jackson is coming of age and he’s got some kind of transformation power—think Grimm and Wesen. Some lady in San Francisco wants his power, but I don’t understand what the heck was going on under that bakery across the street from the Moulin Rouge-esque club where Jackson’s love interest (I think that’s what Mae was) works and why this whole story appears to be some kind of weird deja vu for everyone involved. I think there are references to the Fates and maybe this novella is an homage to Lovecraft and Cthulhu. I don’t know. Also playing against my connection with the story is the poor layout and formatting. This is a novella so there are no chapters. There did seem to be breaks in the action, there is no major formatting indicator to signify those breaks (maybe a couple of hard returns at most). The text just seemingly runs on for pages and then in the last pages of the book, there is suddenly a character signifying a break in the story. The whole time I read The Kraken Sea I felt like I was on the outskirts of this story. I don’t know enough of the base mythology to connect with the story and the characters, I was lost during all 122 pages. Honestly, I felt that I wasn’t smart enough to be reading this book.
I was immediately drawn to this book by its amazingly stunning cover. Pair that with an exciting synopsis about monsters and secrets, I was hooked. While The Kraken Sea by E Catherine Tobler certainly delivered on what the synopsis promised, I did feel like the entire story (which was more of a short novella being only 128 pages long) was extremely rushed. The characters, while seemed well developed, but we never really went in-depth with any and the world-building lacked, leaving many questions unanswered. The main problem, for me, was the pacing. It started well and steady, talking about the orphanage Jackson lived at and the trip he was about to take. But once they stepped on the train, it seemed as though Tobler needed to rush to the end, having too many ideas and concepts and not enough pages. There are barely any easy/smooth transitions between one scene/idea and the next. This leads to the other issues I had with the book. Since there was this rush to speed through to the end, I never really felt like I could understand or come to care for the characters. I wanted to know more, and were this novella at least twice as long, I feel like I would have since it felt like Tobler definitely knew the characters and had them well-fleshed out in her mind at least. Another casualty of this race to the finish was the world building. There was such a detail rich environment created where you could feel the tension, the division in this town where everything seemed well thought out. But we never get to experience it. We don't know how it is everyone is okay with these creatures. Is this a town made of creatures? How seedy is this place? How are there normal folk living here mixed in with the rest? Why are they paying for protection? If we had had another hundred pages or so, perhaps we might have learnt more. So much potential, The Kraken Sea by E Catherine Tobler was definitely an interesting story that I would love to revisit again. However, the extremely unnecessarily fast pacing definitely hindered my enjoyment, causing me to feel like I was missing half the book. I would really love to know why Tobler felt it necessary to make the story so short, if she was worried about not having enough to story to continue, or just nervous about it. // I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review //
The Kraken Sea by E. Catherine Tobler is a dark and weird book I won from LibraryThing and I am so glad I did. I fell into it's strange arms and relished in it! There are so many strange creatures, interactions, and twisting and turning roads the author takes you on... love it. It is a wonderful, lovely tale you have to read. It is a short novel and worth the time. You can't help but feel for the strange boy that doesn't fit in, the boy with tentacles he keeps hidden beneath, below, to fit in...but he wants to be himself. Great job.