‘City of Ships’ – Mary Hoffman
Isabel Evans has just made a very surprising discovery: she is a Stravagante, somebody who, with the help of a talisman, can travel in time and space to the country of Talia in a parallel world. When faced with the extreme danger that Talia presents, the normally shy and quiet Isabel is forced to dig deep and find strength she never knew she had, as she is plunges into a world of pirates, ferocious sea battles and deadly adversaries…
Just when I thought Mary Hoffman had covered all original ideas for the Stravaganza series, ‘City of Ships’ brought a fresh and interesting plot that I really enjoyed. This time set in a coastal town featuring pirates and a pending attack, ‘City of Ships’ felt more of a unique story compared to the rest in the series. I can’t guarantee this review won’t contain any plot spoilers, so if you are reading this without having read the earlier books in the series, then I definitely recommend that you check out my other reviews, for Mary Hoffman.
The town of Classe felt different to the rest of the cities in Talia and this might be because of the pirates and sea-faring espionage. The pace seemed to move a lot quicker and there was always the sense of impending danger to what appears quite a vulnerable province. I enjoyed the battle scenes on the sea because it was so different to the previous duals and sword fights in Talia but, admittedly, I did find it difficult to keep track of which ship was on which side.
Another refreshing part to this story is how the talismans have evolved. The present day Stravagante work more as a team and want to help their newest recruit, Isabel, understand as much as possible about Talia. Indeed, Hoffman throws a few surprises in along the way and whilst I don’t want to ruin it the for other people, I have to stay it made the book just that even more fantastical and enjoyable. I enjoyed the freedom that the Stravagante seem to have and the unpredictability of the journeys means that I just cannot predict how the sixth (and final?) instalment will develop.
I’m relieved that ‘City of Ships’ had more of a unique plot as I always feel that a long series is in danger of becoming repetitive. Instead, this was exciting and unpredictable, both for scenes set in England and Talia. I have enjoyed how this series has developed and certainly felt that this is more of a stronger plot than some of the others. Time travel meets war and tension, this book is a great read.