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Book review: Deeplight

Written by Frances Hardinge
Available from bookstores
Ages: 11 to 25

Reviewed by Ella (17), who is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants. Ella helped author Frances Hardinge write about deafness in Deeplight.


"Deeplight is a gorgeous tale about gods who just won’t stay dead. Set on the islands of the Myriad, small-time criminal Hark finds himself tangled in myth and reality as he learns more than he’d like about the underwater gods who destroyed themselves many years ago. In the Myriad, there’s a thriving economy born of ‘godware’ trades found on deep sea dives.

The elite divers are the ‘sea-kissed’, who have lost their hearing to the depths. One such sea-kissed smuggler is called Selphin. She’s my favourite character. Selphin doesn’t have time for foolishness, especially not the main character’s creepy godware business. I love how blunt, stubborn and fiery she is. Besides being a cool, complex character, she’s also an authentic representation of deafness. She communicates through sign and speech, as do almost all the Myriddians. The sign for ‘jellyfish’ in their sign language is the same sign they use for an insult meaning ‘spineless’.

Deeplight gets better and better every time I read it. The story is so exciting, and I love how the Deaf community are the elite warriors of the world.

I’d definitely recommend the book for slightly older readers, perhaps those aged 13 and over!"

Author Frances Hardinge also said: “I would like to thank Ella, a young reader who contacted me to ask whether I would ever consider including a deaf character in one of my books, triggering a small avalanche in my brain that resulted in the invention of the sea-kissed, after which she generously became my expert consultant along with the other members of the previous Young People’s Advisory Board.”