Voyage of the Damned by Frances White

Booksellers spend much of their time talking about and promoting the newest books by the most well-known authors. That’s the nature of the business. But what we’re really passionate about, and what really makes the book world so magical, is those first-time authors, those debuts that introduce us to new styles and new voices and keep the novel landscape so exciting. That’s why Debut of the Month is far and away our favourite monthly promotion!

It’s true that all keen readers have a fairly good idea about what we do and don’t enjoy, but it’s also true that having ever-expanding taste is very much its own reward. So we hope that you’ll join us in taking a chance on something new… Although it’s not that much of a chance because our very best debut-hunting booksellers have picked this one with great care and we’re sure you’ll love it too!

This month’s featured debut is all the things we love so much about these opportunities. And it’s such a unique blend of genres, with such an unpredictable plot, that it’s just crying out to be the new thing you give a go this month.

A tantalising blend of classic murder mystery and glorious fantasy, Voyage of the Damned manages to be completely hilarious, mercilessly bloody and authentically heartfelt.

Despite constant backstabbing, bitterness and open hostility among its twelve kingdoms, the empire of Concordia has somehow managed to maintain peace for a thousand years. To celebrate this diplomatic achievement, the Emperor’s ship sets off on a journey to visit the Goddess’s mountain – the sacred location from which Concordia was gifted the strange magic, known as “the blessing”, that animates Concordia’s secrets and gives its leaders their unique abilities. Aboard the ship is the heir and leader of each of the twelve provinces – every one of them a devious and jealous schemer harbouring hidden intent. One of them though, Ganymedes Piscero, leader of the lowly Fish kingdom, is an outright misfit. Reluctant to put in more than minimal effort or take anything especially seriously, Ganymedes, better known as Dee, is a disappointment – and not just because he’s the only one without a blessing.

When one of the most admired heirs on the ship is murdered, Dee quickly realises that, with no possible escape and surrounded by powerful suspects, surviving the voyage is going to be tricky. And on top of this he realises that he’s going to have to be the one to expose the killer and put an end to their vicious spree. If and when the ship finally makes it to the mountain, how many passengers will be left? And with all these dead leaders piling up, will there even still be a Concordia?

Voyage of the Damned is both a top-notch locked-room mystery and a considerable feat of imaginative world-building. It’s absolutely peppered with brilliantly realised, diverse characters – from our witty, chaotic, profoundly loveable protagonist to the nefarious villains and their victims – and it culminates in an extraordinary twist. If something fresh and new is what you’re after, that’s exactly what you’ll get with this vibrant debut.


Happy Reading!