by Emily Hayse
*Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads*
“Let me tell you a story that happened so long ago that only the hills and rivers can remember the time . . . .”
All her life, thirteen-year-old Maki has heard tales of the legendary city of gold, buried deep in the northern frontier. But when her village is burned and her brother captured by cruel invaders, the legend becomes desperately real.
Armed with a wolf-dog and a heart of courage, Maki sets out on a journey that will demand all her strength and cunning. She is determined to bring her brother home at all costs. Yet as her quest leads her deep into a wilderness of ancient dangers, Maki realizes that even for her, some prices are too high to pay.
If you’re looking for a gripping story of adventure and survival, look no further than Seventh City.
First off, I love Hayse’s style of writing. It has an almost timeless feel to it. Her writing is gripping and immersive.
I really enjoyed Maki’s POV. She has such a firey spirit and no-nonsense attitude. She made a wonderful narrator for the story, helping to set the tone. Having Maki as the POV character was also a great way to create an immersive feel for the setting, as Hayse sprinkles words from Maki’s language throughout the story.
The worldbuilding was great. Like other reviews have noted, Seventh City is an Alaskan-inspired fantasy and it has a wonderful “last frontier” feel. You could also tell while reading that Hayse knows so much more about the world than is explored in the novel. (If you want to read stories set in the world of Seventh City, check out The Rivers Lead Home! An excellent companion to Seventh City!) The cultural aspect of the worldbuilding was also really nicely done.
The rest of the characters in the story were great. While Maki travels with a large group of soldiers, Hayse focuses on a key group of them. And even though these characters don’t have a large amount of time on the page, you fall in love with them anyway because of Hayse’s skill as a writer. I loved the sibling relationship between Maki and Tsanu, even though they don’t get to be together much during the story. I love siblings in stories.
The plot is well done, balancing the search for the Seventh City and Maki’s plan to rescue Tsanu with the simple need to survive the wilderness. Everything is paced nicely, and the tension mounts well over the course of the story.
The ending feels the tiniest bit abrupt, but I think that mainly because I wanted to stay with Maki and the others. I didn’t want to have to end their story yet! But the ending is nice.
Overall, Seventh City is a fabulous novel! Emily Hayse is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.
Cautions: ten instances of a British swear word; brief, non-graphic, moderate violence