One Good Eye – A Misplaced Adventures Novel
by Jen Bair
Taking over an island nation of pirates should be easy for Hettie Stormheart, First Daughter of the merciless Island Witch, but leading her coven of twenty-seven siblings who can’t agree on anything is like herding drunken cliff pigs.
When a foreign diplomat warns of an invading lord threatening their way of life, Hettie’s got to whip her sisters into fighting shape to defend their home, only the invading army is unlike anything they’ve ever seen: beast-like men and amphibious assassins who can swim circles around them.
To make matters worse, Hettie’s only hope of victory is a cursed magical artifact: Deryl, a sentient eyeball who hates magic-wielders and is more annoying than all her siblings combined. But as Hettie struggles to keep her ragtag group of defenders together, a new adversary emerges. One more ruthless and unexpected than even the shadow beasts that hunt them in the dark.
With Deryl’s help, Hettie must overcome the invading army and protect her home from those who seek to destroy it. The true cost of victory may be higher than she ever imagined, and the fate of the island nation—and the Daughters’ Coven—hangs in the balance.
Booklife Review (https://booklife.com/booklife-review/9781951445485)
A young woman is sent out into the world and comes into her own power in Bair’s full-length debut, an adult fantasy series starter that blends breezy, YA-flavored storytelling with surprising moments of darkness and wit. Hettie is the eldest of the 28 daughters of the Island Witch who rules and protects the Paradisal islands. Something like a Disney princess blessed with the gift of snark, Hettie is competent and kind, beloved by nearly everyone around her except for her half-sisters, and is accompanied by an amusing animal companion: the clumsy amber hawk Ouri who at times poops on her enemies. When a mainland noblewoman sends emissaries to offer gold in exchange for sorcerous help defending against an invasion, Meoka, the Island Witch, sends her “coven” of teen-to-adult daughters to fight under Hettie’s leadership, despite sibling Nuala’s constant undermining.
Bair writes crisp, appealing prose, with a sense of fun and danger, as her characters fling fireballs, face pirates and shadowbeasts, and—just as crucially—pick at each other (“You are a completely unlovable, low-standard twit-witter”) or crack jokes about fantasy names (“Isn’t the name Eyeball of Insight redundant?”). The comic elements include a magic artifact with a mind and mouth of its own, but Bair blends this with some jolting twists, including serious loss and necromantic surprises. That blend at times can feel disjointed as the stakes get raised, but the story remains engaging as Hettie’s authority with her sisters slips as the fighting goes on, until a mutiny may bring even greater danger than an enemy army.
Despite some Cinderella parallels, with the earnest and kind hero being beloved by all except for the sisters who are blinded by jealousy and spite, it’s not until Hettie goes to war and returns that she faces true loss and hardship, and even then she handles daunting challenges with relative grace—and makes bold choices. Fantasy readers who crave YA and comic elements but don’t shy away from some mature themes may find this adventure a treat.
Takeaway: Strong fantasy debut with witchcraft, pirates, snark, and sisters.
Comparable Titles: T. Kingfisher, Shannon Chakraborty’s The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
About the Author: Jen Bair
Jen Bair is an Air Force brat, Army veteran, and military wife. She loves traveling with her family to foreign places, real or imaginary, whenever she can. Her family is her life. Her writing is her passion. You can find her published works at http://jenbair.com.