The Girl From Everywhere – Heidi Heilig – Greenwillow Books – Published 16 February 2016
Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question…
Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.
This is a unique fantasy novel, twisting legends with history, all mixed up with a bit of time travel aboard a pirate ship. The characters are just as diverse, from the charming and roguish (and handsome) Persian thief Kash, to our main character Nix, daughter of the captain, navigator and sixteen years of age (even though she was born in 1868).
The Girl From Everywhere is vibrant, full of the colours, languages and cultures of the lands the crew of the Temptation travel to, both historical and fantastical. Hawaii plays a particularly large role, and Heidi Heilig’s knowledge of the area shines through the rich tapestry of the world she has created in this story.
Unfortunately, the book suffers a little from slow-middle syndrome. The crew of the Temptation are docked at Oahu and instead of traveling the sea to distant and exotic lands become entangled in a political coo on the island. Things quickly speed up again towards the end with plenty of secret plots, ancient warriors and dangerous escapades, but the middle dragged for me a bit. The middle section is also where the love triangle comes into play. Luckily it’s not a knock-down-drag-out triangle, but it does prevent Nix from moving forward with my preferred love interest (not gonna lie, I’m Kash all the way).
While the end does resolve this particular adventure for Nix and her fellow crew there is plenty of room for future adventures. I love how the time travel aspect works, both the mechanics (maps) of it and the way the past and future loops together. I would love to read about what happens next and what other distant or magical lands to which they could sail. And the end does leave things open regarding Nix’s romance story – you think she’s made her choice but you know there could always be other developments.
Overall, this is a creative and magical book that straddles historical and realistic fantasy with charm and fabulous characters.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Magic, time travel, sailing, history, myths and legends, Hawaii, father-daughter relationships, love and romance, action and adventure.
Reading age guide: Ages 12/13 and up.
Advisory: Mild violence, descriptions of death. Drug use, particularly opium and the addiction to it.
Published: 16 February 2016 by Greenwillow Books.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 464 pages.