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Orbit 2024 New Voice: Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan

Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan

Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan



29th February 2024

Revolution is brewing in the semi-submerged city of Tiankawi, between humans and the fathomfolk – sirens, sea witches, kelpies, and kappas – who live in its waters. This debut fantasy inspired by East Asian mythology and watery folk tales is perfect for fans of Jade City, The Bone Shard Daughter and House of Earth and Blood.


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Welcome to Tiankawi – shining pearl of human civilization and a safe haven for those fleeing civil unrest. Or at least, that’s how it first appears. But in the semi-flooded city, humans are, quite literally, on top: peering down from shining towers and aerial walkways on the fathomfolk – sirens, seawitches, kelpies and kappas – who live in the polluted waters below.

For half-siren Mira, promotion to captain of the border guard means an opportunity to help her downtrodden people. But if earning the trust and respect of her human colleagues wasn’t hard enough, everything Mira has worked towards is put in jeopardy when Nami, a know-it-all water dragon – fathomfolk royalty – is exiled to the city. When extremists sabotage the annual boat race, violence erupts, as does the clampdown on fathomfolk rights. Both Nami and Mira must decide if the cost of change is worth paying, or if Tiankawi should be left to drown.


‘Prepare to be engulfed. Chan has superbly created a world as real and complex as our own, where oppression has no easy solutions and there is no success without sacrifice. Fast-paced action combined with true social depth make this an unforgettable, must-read fantasy’
Shelley Parker-Chan

‘A vivid, textured tale of migration, prejudice and change. Wonderful and breathtaking’
Aliette de Bodard

‘Life is better down with the fathomfolk. I was dazzled by this novel, which has as many turns as the tide, and hope to see much more of this world and this author’
Sarah Rees Brennan

‘A richly envisioned world and finely crafted tale, Fathomfolk is a luxurious and thrilling story full of political intrigue, heart-wrenching characters and edge-of-your seat tension. A glittering and magical novel from a glorious new voice in fantasy’
Bea Fitzgerald

‘From the glittering city heights to the criminal underbelly on the seafloor, the world of Fathomfolk feels deeply plausible and satisfyingly complex. If you want scheming sirens and snarky sea dragons then this is the book for you’
Thomas D. Lee

Fathomfolk is a compelling tale about cultures colliding, set against a city backdrop that feels familiar yet fresh. Eliza Chan deftly and compassionately writes about the depths we’ll plunge to, to change our world’
G. V. Anderson, World Fantasy Award winner

‘A thrilling, incisive fantasy of diaspora and dragons, Fathomfolk is an unmissable debut. if you’re hungry for a beautiful Southeast Asian influenced fantasy with razor-sharp edges, this book is for you’
Tasha Suri

‘Eliza Chan’s Fathomfolk has all the feels-furious, bittersweet and heart wrenching. Gripping to the last page, the story stayed with me long after I finished the book. A tour de force!’
A. Y. Chao

‘Gloriously imagined and full of heart’
Claire North

‘Eliza Chan is not just a writer; she is storyteller. In her deft hand Fathomfolk bursts with complex relationships, original world building, and timeless questions. With the confidence and command of a seasoned master, Chan weaves a riveting tale which seized me from the first word and did not let go until the end. A triumph of imagination, birthed from the mind of one who loves stories and knows how to tell them well’
Tobi Ogundiran

‘A thrilling tale set in a unique and inventive fantasy world peppered with East Asian and Southeast Asian myth and lore. With complex, daring characters and layered storytelling, Chan’s heartfelt and nuanced exploration of diaspora survival will resonate deeply with readers’
June CL Tan