I devoured this book! It was so good. I enjoyed being inside the main characters head so much. Frances White has succeeded in writing a funny, dark murder mystery with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and having your jaw drop to the floor. Combining the conventions of Marple-Esq murder mysteries within a magic world.
The world is divided into 13 districts, all with very different environments and people ruled over by an emperor and 12 lords who all have blessings that are supposed to help their people. There is a hierarchy even amongst the districts with some believing they are higher up. This is where we meet Dee, our wonderful main character and the person whose head we live inside for the whole book.
The characters in this book leap off the page, they’re all so different and vibrant.
Dee deserves the absolute world.
The Voyage of the Damned is everything I did not know I needed in a book. A fantasy murder mystery 'whodunnit' on a magical boat with a completely emotionally unhinged hot mess of a protagonist with a cast of diverse, well developed, chaotic characters/friends?/enemies?/suspects? and lots of murder. I had so much fun reading this book and at times was absolutely heartbroken and other times laughing out loud.
This is a standalone, adult fantasy with a small subplot of romance. I was completely immersed in the vivid world and accompanying characters Frances White created in their debut. Despite the murder, heartbreak, violence and betrayal, the humour of the protagonist for me was so funny and made this book feel real cosy.
If you love cosy mysteries with a lot of murder and pining, I would 100% recommend.
Thank you to NetGalley and the author for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Thank you Publisher for this advanced copy.
Voyage of The Damned was one of my anticipated books in January and this book wasn't dissapointing me at all. I loved the trope and the relationship between Dee and Ravi. Not to mention the worldbuilding.
My only complaint was this book felt like more YA-ish than an adult book.
Enjoyable read. Great locked room mystery, extremely silly in places, lovable characters and very diverse.
I love a murder mystery, I love pirates - combining the two resulted in a fun, fast paced trip across the seas! The book adeptly balanced elements of humour, emotion and mystery to create a well rounded enjoyable story. I found myself turning page after page, not wanting to put it down for fear of delaying the final reveal. Although I don't often reread mystery books as they lose most of the glamour of the mystery element on a second read, however I could see myself coming back to this just to revisit the lovable characters!
Personally, I have never put too much emphasis on a need for super strong worldbuilding, I am more of a character driven reader, however the worldbuilding was well done and suprisingly engaging!
I was suprised to find this is a debut author but I look forward to their future work!
Thankyou to Netgalley and Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House for a free e-arc in exchange of an honest review.
This was really fun and hilarious. The characters are great and all very distinct which i enjoyed. Not many were likable for me however that didnt ruin the read for me (except for adorable little Grasshopper!)
The explict and modern day language did take away from the fantastical/ mythical element of the story however if you ignore that you will find it funny.
The murder mystery elements made it fun and was done really well.
4 stars from me
Voyage of the Damned is a fantasy meets murder mystery book and it was fantastic!!!
I loved everything about this book from the plot, to the fantasy world, the world building, the side characters and of course our main character Dee. I loved reading form his POV!! He is so funny and witty, and has the best personality I have read in a character. He is caring and protective of those he cares about yet doesn’t care what people think of him. He always puts others before him even if they don’t do the same to him. He was a great protagonist.
The plot/murder mystery element of the story was outstanding. I had so many theories as to who the killer could be and what would happen next and yet I was surprised at every turn. My issue with murder mystery books is that I usually guess the killer and it ruins the enjoyment of the book, but this?!?! Had me guessing at every turn and I loved that the plot twist took me by surprise.
There was a tiny romance subplot which was very enjoyable and added that much more to the story.
The representation in this book was also fantastic - we have a mix of POC characters, disabled characters (such as a wheelchair user, chronic pain, mental health) and various queer identities (bisexual protagonist, non binary character, trans character, asexual character). It was lovely seeing all of these different identities so easily accepted in the story. It made for a wonderful read.
Thank you so much NetGalley & Penguin Michael Joseph for sending me a copy of Voyage of the Damned, in exchange for my honest review.
A fun, action-packed locked room mystery set on board a ship filled with the most powerful people in the empire of Concordia. Full of magical powers, found family and plenty of twists. A fantastic debut; I'm excited to see what Frances White does next.
An entertaining debut, with a cast of intriguing characters, an irresistible locked room mystery, and solid world building. I enjoyed the narrative voice of the protagonist, Ganymedes, and his relationship with his sidekick, the precocious Grasshopper. I was a little bit disappointed in the romance if I’m honest - no spoilers, but I was a bit sad about the twist. Iykyk. Nevertheless, an enjoyable read and I’m intrigued to see what this author will produce in the future. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
What a book to start 2024 with. Fantasy? Check. Magic? Yep. Humour? Definitely. ‘Closed room’ murder-mystery? 100%.
I went into ‘Voyage of the Damned’ relatively blind, knowing little about it but intrigued by the basic blurb. There was no way I could anticipate what I was getting into.
Ganymedes (Dee) is the Blessed representative of Fish Province, the lowest cast of Concordia. Once a year, all of the Blessed come together for a massive party on board the Emperor’s ship, ostensibly to work together for the good of their peoples. In reality, this is a political game full of rivalries, alliances and jockeying for power. Dee’s just there because he has to be (and for the food)… until his fellow Blessed start to die, and he seems to be the only one willing to discover the killer.
I have yet to see a summary of this tale that accurately covers exactly what it is, because there’s just so much, yet none of it is difficult to understand. Dee’s a wonderful protagonist and every chapter flies past, providing new information about him, his peers and the universe they inhabit, right up to the last moments (which I defy anyone to see coming). There’s something happening at all times, but it’s all so beautifully drawn that I never found it a challenge to keep up.
The visuals are particularly brilliant. The ship’s decor is beyond ostentatious, there are magical talking mini-dragon servants, and the characters are all clearly delineated by their clothing, manner and even hair colour. This world is vast and varied, and I loved my time exploring what I learned of it.
From the immensity of the ship to the reality of life in each Province, plus the deeply flawed nature of every single Blessed - none of whom are what they outwardly appear to be - the reader is swept along as the days pass and the bodies increase. The tension heightens and Dee’s literal Murder Diagram becomes a tangled mess of love, hate, motivations and secrets against the ticking clock.
It’s also tremendously refreshing to inhabit a place that is so open without having a social agenda. Bisexuality is the norm here, queerness and fluidity is natural, and Dee’s ample figure isn’t typical of a hero but simply who he is. The only discrimination seems based around political power, which seems inevitable in context and very relevant in the world today.
‘Voyage of the Damned’ is unique and brilliant, a world that is both magical and very real. It’s a standalone novel, but I anticipate fanfiction and fanart of it arriving soon (I suspect early readers have already started casting if this were ever adapted for TV).
Set time aside when you step aboard, because you won’t be leaving until the ride comes to a complete stop.
Oh and by the way: I’d just like to mention the final paragraph of the Acknowledgments (the part nobody reads, but should):
Bookshelves can be a terrifying place for debut writers, especially those who are marginalized. Writers who are queer, trans, BIPOC, disabled, working class or otherwise marginalized fight tooth and nail for their stories to be told in a world that often seems increasingly unwelcoming to them. By buying, reading and sharing these books, you are sending the message that these people and their stories matter. That they deserve to be heard. Never underestimate the power you hold, readers.
Thank you to Penguin Random House and Frances White for the opportunity to ARC read Voyage of the Damned in exchange for a fair review. This was a fun read for me - I loved the combination of fantasy, mythical and murder mystery. It was weird and whacky setting, but I actually really enjoyed the mix up. A diverse range of characters representing something for everyone reading. A fun, good paced read that I would say is YA than adult with a punchy plot.
Murder mystery Poirot style, murder on a cruise, what more do I need? I adore books set on water and this one did not disappoint. I needed to know who what where why and when at every moment and honestly could not put this down. I am so glad a certain book box has this as a pick as I am so excited! I do agree this would be a more YA book, it just didn't have the adult feel.
Oh, I absolutely fell in love with Voyage of the Damned, and really didn’t want it to end! This is my first 5* read of the year, and it’ll be a book I’ll be recommending to fantasy-lovers all year long. A wonderful mix of fantasy setting and genuinely complex murder mystery, that balances plot progression and wider world-building masterfully well.
Each leader of the 12 provinces of Concordia, known as their province’s ‘Blessed’ leader, is attending a private voyage on the Emperor’s ship, in a celebration intended to draw the provinces together and forge friendships between their leaders. What occurs instead is a classic whodunnit scenario, with the surviving leaders trapped together for the rest of the voyage, knowing a killer is among them. I’ve never been great at solving even the simplest of whodunnits in novels, and it’s safe to say I didn’t stand a chance here – I’d genuinely be amazed if anyone works the whole plot out on their first readthrough!
Ganymedes is a great protagonist for the novel, and he perfectly subverts a common fantasy trope to boot; he has not inherited blessed status, but as Fish province’s only (legally sanctioned) heir, he must pretend that he has for the duration of the voyage. Since Ganymedes is an outcast within the group, we can get to know more about all the suspects seamlessly through his eyes. The process of establishing characters and motives whilst learning who everyone is reminded me a lot of Gideon the Ninth, though I must say I found the character names stuck with me much easier in Voyage of the Damned! Assigning an animal to each province and Blessed leader is clever, as it really helped keep in mind who all the characters are without getting lost. A few of these animals felt a little stereotypical, but for the most part the animals weren’t solely relied upon to develop each character. Similar to the Hunger Games, you mainly hear about Concordia’s different provinces through their ‘blessed’ leaders, and I think there would be lots of potential to explore the world of Concordia further in any future novels.
An angle I didn’t expect the book to explore so extensively (and so well, it must be said) is the topic of depression and low self-esteem. Ganymedes is not the most stable of characters in that respect, but I found Frances White’s approach to showing how these mindsets can manifest themselves to be excellently well crafted. Though trigger warnings must be attached for those who find themselves affected by anxiety and depression, the care with which these triggers were included honestly left me feeling warm inside.
If the Fantasy and Mystery genres were to ever have a lovechild, this would be the result. Voyage of the Damned is one big murder mystery set on a cruise with dodgy politics and gay romance. Oh, and magic. It has a little bit of something for everybody! Nearly all of the action takes place on a boat in the middle of the ocean, so it is technically a big gay locked-room murder mystery cruise. With magic. I mean, come on! What's not to like!
The plot, as mentioned above, it a locked-room (or boat, in this case) mystery, with several twists and unexpected deaths. For all the joking around, it is actually very clever but not in a smarmy, rub-your-nose-in-it kind of way. I think the main reason it is able to pull it off is the main character. Told in the first person POV, Dee is the Blessed of Fish province. He is bubbly, outrageous and completely unblessed. He uses humour to cover his insecurities and is unlucky in love. He is not a very reliable narrator but he does make it fun to read. His compassionate shielding of Grasshopper and their subsequent friendship is sweet. The other characters are outrageously stereotypical according to their province but I think they are meant to be like that. It helps to highlight the snobbery and pretension of the upper classes and provide a little social commentary along the way.
I though this was a very smart and clever book. I loved the genre mash-up and thought it worked really well here. The prose was clean and not too flowery and the plot kept me intrigued to the very end. There were some minor gripes along the way, one being the relationship reveal towards the end of the book. I'm not sure why, but I was a little disappointed with that. I am probably very much on my own there but it is what it is (I need someone who has read it to talk to! So many spoilers!). Other than that, it was an excellent read about social snobbery and the not-so subtle effects of grief. Add that beautiful cover and this is a book I would very much recommend.
An entertaining murder mystery with loveable and real characters.
However, the target audience feels a little confused as this reads very YA despite being marketed as Adult. The worldbuilding could have been expanded to be clearer.
What a lovely and human story! There’s heartbreak, intrigue, romance, magic, grief, humour, and a nice dose of Found Family!!
The plot: Concordia has been able to maintain peace among its provinces for a millennium. To celebrate this remarkable achievement, the emperor's ship sets sail on a twelve-day voyage towards the sacred Goddess's Mountain. On board are the heirs of the twelve provinces of Concordia, each of whom possesses a unique and secret magical ability known as a Blessing, except Ganymedes, who is compelled to deceive everyone about his absent Blessing at the behest of his father.
During the journey, the most powerful heir is murdered and the murderer strikes again and again, leaving everyone a suspect. As the bodies pile up, Ganymedes must step up and become the hero he never thought he could be. Can he identify the killer and their Blessing before he or his friends become the next victim?
Honestly, the worldbuilding, plot, and character development in this book are all top-notch. I can hardly believe that this is a debut novel - it's that good!
If you're looking for an engaging read that will keep you on your toes, you absolutely have to check this one out!
Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing an arc in exchange for a review!
Okay, this was a lot of fun to read. A murder mystery in a fantasy setting where people have magical "blessings" besides from the protaganist Ganymedes. The worldbuilding was decent with the various provinces that the 12 heirs to each province who are on the ship and keep getting killed off.
I'd say it's a solid 4/5 because while it's a fun book which I enjoyed reading, a few bits didn't work for me. I agree with the other reviews that it reads more like a YA than adult fiction and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, I'd rather it was advertised as YA just so I know what to expect.
really enjoyed how the book introduced us to the world and its different provinces, showcasing the class divisions that exist within them. The character Pissfish had me in stitches many times throughout the story. The plot begins with us being on a boat for 14 days, and then a murder mystery unfolds involving the blessed ones who have unique magical gifts. With time running out, we must work together to solve the murders. The beginning of the book is fast-paced, but the middle slows down a bit for character development.
All of the heirs except for one, Dee, have a Blessing. Dee's lack of a Blessing is a secret he must keep from the others. Despite the other heirs having Blessings, they are unable to prevent the subsequent murders. This leaves Dee to wonder about his own chances of survival. However, he soon shows an unforeseen capacity for deductive thinking, which gives him an advantage in solving the mystery. The urgency of the situation gives him a newfound clarity, and he realizes that this is a matter of life and death.
I really enjoyed this book!
Dee and Grasshopper are amazing! The humour was a very nice surprise, there were parts that made me literally laugh out loud.
The mystery was intriguing and kept me hooked throughout. The world building is brilliant, I was completely submerged in the provinces, and the political and personal feelings all the blessed had for each other. I couldn't get enough of learning more about all these characters and where they came from.
This is a perfect standalone, I felt engrossed in the world, connected to the characters and the ending was very satisfying. Of course I want to know more but I like how the author handled it also.
This was a debut! I will be following this author, I look forward to what she brings us next.
Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for an eARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
During a twelve-day voyage to a sacred Mountain a murder takes place and everyone on board is a suspect. The only people on board are the heir's to Concordia's 12 provinces, each with a magical blessing. Its the reluctant Ganymedes the slacker of the group who reluctantly tries to solve the mystery and may even save the empire.
I loved this book so much. Ganymedes was such a fun character who had me laughing and crying. The mystery had twists and turns ibhadn't expexted and the magic system was really interesting. With the added sprinkle of a romance blossoming it was almost perfect and had ne up to the early hours as I had to know what happened next! HIGHLY RECOMMEND