Author Adrienne Young’s Fable duology is a feminist adventure that stands out from the current YA pack thanks to its thrilling, high seas setting and fantastic heroine.
A story of pirates and found family, Fable follows a young girl’s attempt to survive in a world where no one can be trusted. Abandoned to fend herself on an island full of dangerous grifters and cutthroats, she must find her way back to the father who left her there – and figure out who she really is along the way.
Culturess got the chance to chat with Young herself about what makes Namesake different from its predecessor, West’s dark turn in this novel, and what’s next for her as a writer – which includes continuing the story of the Fable universe.
Young shared a tantalizing tidbit with us about her future projects – it turns out that Fable and Namesake won’t be the only stories she tells in the high seas, pirate-laden world of these novels. Her next book, titled The Last Legacy, is a captivating standalone about family and blood ties, reinventing yourself, and controlling your own destiny.
It follows the story of a girl named Bryn Roth, who is summoned back to Bastian by her uncle on her eighteenth birthday to join her long-lost family. Bastian, as readers of Young’s previous works already know, is a major location of many events and the home of several key characters in Namesake.
Culturess: How do you feel that Namesake differs from Fable? I realize they’re two halves of the same story, obviously, but they felt like such different books to me.
Adrienne Young: They are really different books! We follow the same main characters, but while Fable is so much of an exploration of the Saint side of Fable, Namesake is much more about her mother Isolde.
The two books are like the two sides of Fable and her attempt to figure out who exactly she is and what she wants. Namesake also deals a lot with loyalty and the fallout of Fable’s decisions. She chose her found family in book one, but book two is all about them choosing each other again and again.
Culturess: How do you think Fable has changed as a character over the course of this journey she’s on?
Young: I think it’s especially true in Namesake that Fable surprises herself. In book one, she really had to confront her own refusal to see her world and her father with clear eyes. Her heart gets broken in a deep way and she has to decide what she wants for the first time because everything has always revolved around her desire to find Saint.
In book two, she has decided what she wants but her instincts are at war with her choices and how things look on the surface. She has to trust herself in a huge way to follow those instincts even though they don’t always make sense to other people.
Culturess: Namesake really incorporates Fable’s mother into the story in a way that feels natural, and allows her to ultimately make peace with who she was and the choices she made. What about this relationship was so important for you?
Young: As Fable is making peace with who her parents were and are, she’s making peace with herself. We are intrinsically tied to where we came from, whether we like it or not, and Fable doesn’t really know herself until she knows who her mother and father were.
There’s an untangling of identities that has to happen in order for her to choose her own path and her mother is a really big part of that in Namesake.
Culturess: The Bastian gem queen Holland is a fascinating character and one I would have loved to spend more time with. What kind of woman do you see her as, as one of the few female characters who seem to have real power in this world?
Young: Holland was a really fun character to write because she is so shamelessly selfish. She wants what she wants, and even though she’s in opposition to Fable throughout the story, I think Fable really learns from her.
She really did love Isolde and I think she wants to love Fable too, but her true love is her own power and that will always trump her allegiance and affection to her own family.
Culturess: West took some dark turns in Namesake! Can you tell us a little bit about how you see this character and his choices?
Young: We get to see much deeper beneath West’s surface in Namesake. In Fable, he started to reveal some of his secrets, but they are darker than Fable imagined.
I really love him for the same reasons I love Saint—they are both very grey. They do what they believe they have to do in order to protect the people they love and they aren’t ashamed of that. They embrace their own darkness.
Both of those characters are difficult for some readers who have a very black and white way of looking at the world, but I feel a kinship with them. I try to stay away from portraying characters who are solely “good” or solely “bad”. Characters who are flawed are much more powerful to me.
Culturess: Do you think Fable and Saint will manage to forge a new kind of relationship with each other going forward after the events of this story?
Young: I do! I think that Fable understands Saint in a totally different way by the end of Namesake and I think that Saint is seeing her clearly for the first time too.
I imagine they will venture into a relationship where their love for each other isn’t the only tether, but a mutual respect and comradery is there too. I think there will be a lot of healing for them both.
Culturess: · What’s the one thing you hope readers take away from this duology?
Young: I hope readers walk away with their definition of “family” challenged.
There’s this common thought that family is everything, but not everyone is born with a happy, healthy, functional biological family. Many of us choose who our family is and that is just as sacred.
Culturess: What can you tell us about what’s next for you as a writer? Personally, I’ve loved all your books thus far, so I’m looking forward to seeing what your next story will be!
Young: I just announced that a new FABLE world book is coming! The Last Legacy releases on September 7th and I’m so excited about it.
I also have more YA fantasy books contracted and a few very big announcements coming later this year about some other things on the horizon for me as a storyteller.
Both Fable and Namesake are available now. The Last Legacy arrives in September.