The gods are dead. Decades ago, they turned on one another and tore each other apart. Nobody knows why. But are they really gone forever? When 15-year-old Hark finds the still-beating heart of a terrifying deity, he risks everything to keep it out of the hands of smugglers, military scientists, and a secret fanatical cult so that he can use it to save the life of his best friend, Jelt. But with the heart, Jelt gradually and eerily transforms. How long should Hark stay loyal to his friend when he’s becoming a monster—and what is Hark willing to sacrifice to save him?
DEEPLIGHT is a wonderfully imaginative fantasy, perfect for deep sea lovers. I love how unique the world is and the descriptions of the different islands and old gods.
As intricate as the world building is, what really shines are two strong themes: friendship and historical narratives. It’s easy to see how Hark developed a strong loyalty to Jelt with their past. Jelt isn’t a flat villain who is always cruel. He has moments of decency. But the more he turns to selfishness and greed, the more you see how toxic his friendship is becoming to Hark. Hark has to learn to be brave and stick up for himself.
Between the legends of the gods and the stories Hark hears from the priests, you see how history can become mythology and specific narratives take shape, ones that don’t include the full picture. Even Hark, with all his desire to learn more about the gods, easily finds himself romanticizing a past he doesn’t have much information on, let alone accurate information. The shape of the narrative comes from who is telling the story and whose voice (or voices) is being purposefully left out.
Overall, DEEPLIGHT is an engaging, one of a kind story about friendship, gods, and finding courage.