Whimsical and wildly imaginative, Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eagar is a pirate story with about love and loss.
Thrilling sea adventure takes on a hint of steampunk in the second book by the author of the acclaimed Hour of the Bees.
When her parents, the great marine scientists Dr. and Dr. Quail, are killed in a tragic accident, eleven-year-old Fidelia Quail is racked by grief — and guilt. It was a submarine of Fidelia’s invention that her parents were in when they died, and it was she who pressed them to stay out longer when the raging Undertow was looming. But Fidelia is forced out of her mourning when she’s kidnapped by Merrick the Monstrous, a pirate whose list of treasons stretches longer than a ribbon eel. Her task? Use her marine know-how to retrieve his treasure, lost on the ocean floor. But as Fidelia and the pirates close in on the prize, with the navy hot on their heels, she realizes that Merrick doesn’t expect to live long enough to enjoy his loot. Could something other than black-hearted greed be driving him? Will Fidelia be able to master the perils of the ocean without her parents — and piece together the mystery of Merrick the Monstrous before it’s too late?
The book is set in a world much like our own, but just a little bit different. Exact time period, unknown. Exact location, unknown. But the feelings and emotions at the heart of the story are truly universal.
With a feel similar to Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, or a Wes Anderson film, Race to the Bottom of the Sea shows different forms of grief and the grieving process through the lens of a young girl’s misadventures following her kidnapping by pirates.
Eagar’s writing is just lovely, and she has a way of transporting you and making this familiar but made-up world feel real and knowable. And I love how beautifully she tackled such serious subjects, not the least of which is death: both the grief of loss, and the acceptance of one’s own mortality. How do you move on after such a great loss? How do you choose to live in the face of risk and peril?
These seem heavy subjects for a book written for children, but Eagar tackles it beautifully – and the end result is a story ripe with meaning and insight for readers both young and old alike.
Look for Race to the Bottom of the Sea in stores today.