By School Library Journal
Tenjat is a farmer who wants more than a life of planting cassava on the shores of hell. Hell is their ocean, which is filled with naga monsters that feed on people who get too close to the shore. The teen wants to be a Handler, one who fights the nagas and helps support their island—a massive Turtle on which the islanders live. He does not want to be a farmer or a father who slows down the island by bearing children. In spite of the pleas of his sister, Eflet, Tenjat refuses to get married, and joins the Handlers, even though the group might have been the cause of his parents’ death years ago. Eflet has many secrets of her own though, and they could change the way Tenjat has understood their world. As the protagonist hones his fighting skills, a budding romance with his trainer complicates his internal conflict. The world-building is clear and well-developed; details about the setting’s mythology are deftly integrated into Tenjat’s story and will engage high fantasy fans. Themes of marriage, family, friendship, and loyalty are evident throughout and are not overly done.