Book Review: The Falcon Chronicles: Shark Seas by Steve Backshall

Author: Steve Backshall

First published in October 2016 by Orion Children’s Books

Review by Miriam Atkinson

Shark Seas is the fourth book in wildlife presenter Steve Backshall’s The Falcon Chronicles series which look at animals and the natural world. The novel follows on from Wilds of the Wolf, and continues the adventures of Sinter and Saker – particularly Sinter’s new found passion of sea life conservation and Saker’s ongoing battle against The Clan and his former brothers.

When I first picked Shark Seas to review I didn’t realise it was the fourth book in a series however if you’re like me and haven’t yet read the previous books – don’t worry. Shark Seas is easy for new readers to pick up. I didn’t have any problems following the story or understanding how the characters relate to each other. If you’re a returning reader to the series then have no fear, Shark Seas is not a stand-alone book. There are plenty of references and continuations of the events of the first three novels to enjoy.

Backshall’s knowledge and care for the natural world is evident in Shark Seas. I particularly enjoyed Sinter’s ocean adventures as through her the reader learns about different marine animals and is educated on the harm pollution and hunting vessels cause on our oceans as well as the part volunteers play in trying to stop these hunters. As Saker travels the globe, the reader is treated to facts about several of the different birds and animals he encounters. But Shark Seas is not a textbook and at no point does the information feel forced into the novel or irrelevant to the ongoing story. Backshall finds the blend between fact and fiction to inform his readers about a topic he is clearly passionate about.

The novel’s cover promises ‘action’, ‘danger’ and ‘adventure’ and Backshall certainly packs a lot into 260 pages. Sinter’s journey in the Pacific Ocean is filled with peril as she attempts several risky underwater dives in shark infested waters and her safety is put in further jeopardy as she comes into direct conflict with the illegal fishing vessel Moumoku Maru. Saker’s quest to take down The Clan (who he once belonged to) and stop them from hunting animals leads him to face the more modern threats of surveillance and technology tracking his movements. I was impressed that Backshall never shies away from just how dangerous or brutal the real world can be.

Shark Seas is the sort of book that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age or gender. It is a fictional story but a realistic one filled with interesting wildlife and environment facts. With a dual narrative split between the two protagonists of Sinter and Saker, there is plenty going on in this novel to keep the reader entertained to the final page.

*This review was first published in the online magazine Cuckoo Review in November 2016*

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