And the ocean was our sky by Patrick Ness
Ill. by Rovina Cai. Walker, 2018. ISBN 9781406383560
(Age: 14+) If Patrick Ness was to write a fractured fairy tale then this is it. It is the story of Moby Dick but turned completely upside down and inside out. The protagonist is 'the devil himself' the elusive Toby Wick who travels the ocean on a man ship.
In this story, the whales are the hunters and man is the prey. The whales travel the beneath the ocean in upside down ships led by captains who are supported by their crews of apprentices and 'sailors'. The crew on this ship is led by Captain Alexandra and one of her apprentices asks the reader to call her 'Bathsheba' (not her real name but is a biblical reference) and we see this tale unfold through her eyes.
The hunt for Toby Wick is cruel, bloodthirsty, and appears to be driven by a myth or legends of the past where the only reason for being is to avenge the deaths of those before them. In Bathsheba's case, it is her mother's death that drives her hunt.
Bathsheba is not as ruthless as her captain Alexandra even though the memory of her mother's death haunts her and this is depicted through the relationship she has with a human male prisoner, Demetrius, held captive on their ship. Captain Alexandra believes Demetrius holds information to where they can find Toby Wick and instructs Bathsheba to do whatever necessary to extract the information out of him. Demetrius knows he is doomed to die by the hands of the whales whether he gives the information or not.
The ending comes to a crescendo where we see the results of the whale's quest, of Bathsheba's relationship with Demetrius and the final confrontation with Toby Wick.
In Patrick Ness style, it is a dark and graphic story and supported perfectly by the illustrations that enhance the story.