I’m absolutely thrilled and honoured to be taking part in the Blog Tour for this absolutely stunning book. After a sensational debut with Where the World Turns Wild, Nicola Penfold is back with the sublime Between Sea and Sky – it’s absolutely unputdownable! A window into a world that will unfortunately become ours if we don’t start to treat it better.
Read on for exclusive access to Chapter One!
When you live at sea the sky’s everywhere. It’s a fifth element.
In a near future where a series of environmental disasters has left much of the country underwater, Pearl lives on a floating oyster farm with her father and younger sister, Clover. They spend their days swimming with porpoises and exploring the mudflats, but life is still far from carefree. Clover is an illegal second child and Pearl will do anything to protect her.
Following her mum’s death several years earlier, Pearl refuses to set foot on land, believing her illness was caused by the poisons in the ground. Meanwhile, Clover dreams of school, friends and a normal life.
Then Nat comes to spend the summer at the sea farm while his scientist mum conducts some experiments. Leaving behind the mainland, with its strict rules and regulations, he brings with him a secret. But when the sisters promise to keep his secret safe, little do they realize that they may be risking everything…
Nicola Penfold’s storytelling glides effortlessly between the three narrators Nat, Pearl and Clover, each completely unique and struggling to make sense of their own situations.
The dystopian society that we glimpse in the book is so eerily possible and this made the story all the more gripping. The people of Central District are living post climate-change disaster. The Greedy years, followed by The Decline and then The Floods and Hunger years map out the series of events that have ravaged the earth and caused immense suffering for all those who live on it.
Since the poisoned ground cannot yield any crops, food production drives much of the human activity in Central District and most of the adults in ‘Landlubber’ Nat’s compound work crippling shifts at Edible Uplands, a crop growing complex. Society is controlled by draconian measures and restrictions, with individuals receiving civil disobedience points for any minor misdemeanors or slips in conduct – too many points and adults are taken out to the prison ship, just visible on the horizon in Blackwater Bay, never to return. Written material is also censored and whole sections of history and knowledge have been erased from the few books left and online search engines. Nat has seen first hand a family torn apart by the strict 1 child policy in force, so he understands why Pearl is so fiercely protective of Clover.
Pearl’s spirituality is a beautiful element of the story – her ‘wishings,’ or offerings to the sea are her way of keeping faith. Objects placed on a pentangle traced on the sand, representing earth, air, fire, water and spirit… the sea takes them,the sea decides and Pearl believes that it will come through for her, she is full of hope.
I won’t say too much about why to avoid risking spoilers but the butterfly features heavily in the story; a metaphor for transformation and hope. In many cultures it is a symbol for rebirth and resurrection. Between Sea and Sky gives us hope for our earth and that healing and regeneration can take place after damage. Hope that our earth can recover.
I was utterly captivated from cover to cover and you only have to visit the other stops on the Blog Tour to see what a profound effect Penfold’s writing has had on each of us.
So sit back, relax and prepare to be completely pulled in as you enjoy Chapter 1.
Thank you so much to the lovely Dannie at Little Tiger for inviting me to be part of the your.
Between Sea and Sky was published by Little Tiger on 8th July.