Update & #BookReview – SERANG by C.S. Boyack #coming-of-age #fantasy

Lock down update: the garden is coming along nicely, we’ve dug over 7 of the 10 raised beds and planted 6 of them.

The polytunnel still needs sorting out, but we’ve made a start – tomatoes are in the bit of bed that has been dug, and it’s a great place to germinate seedlings.

And the views from the house are still stunning: the weather is gloriously warm, and the snow is slowly receding on Ben Wyvis, but still clinging on.

We are 60 miles north of the ski resort of Aviemore, which on Saturday recorded both the lowest and highest temperatures in the UK: minus 5 overnight, to plus 17 during the day, and I don’t think we were far off that – it certainly felt like it while digging!

And in the meantime, I’m still catching up on reviews. I’m finding a little more reading time at the moment, so plenty more of these in the pipeline. Today, it’s C.S. Boyack’s SERANG, a coming-of-age story of a very deserving secondary character from his pirate book, Voyage of the Lanternfish.



SerangSerang by C.S. Boyack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Serang’s life falls apart after her fisherman father dies at sea, and her mother, unable to support a child alone, leaves her at the local temple to be taken in and trained by the monks. The story follows Serang as she slowly begins to accept the massive change of direction her life has taken, and embrace the physical and mental challenges of her training. Then, a few years and a lot of lessons later, the outside world intrudes again, when the new emperor declares the monks no longer welcome in society, and backs this up by destroying the temples and having all the monks killed, forcing Serang down yet another path.
This is a slow burn novel plot-wise, but the monastic training (think Kung Fu, not Cadfael) is detailed and fascinating, bringing about a beautiful development of the eponymous character. She has her flaws and is often somewhat rebellious about accepting these, just like any teenager, but she possesses plenty of charm and a marvellous work-ethic, plus an interesting moral code that keeps evolving throughout the book.
The secondary characters are delightfully quirky, and the magic doesn’t take over the story but blends seamlessly into the world building, leaving you with a feeling that this is a familiar world, and yet not. It is also an easily visualised tale, with excellent fight scenes.
I have not read The Voyage of the Lanternfish, the novel in which Serang first appears, so I can assure you this book reads just fine as a standalone, and not only as a companion piece. Overall, if you are NOT looking for a rapid-fire action adventure, then I recommend this as a captivating coming-of-age story that held my attention the entire way through on the strength of the characterisation.

View all my reviews

Find Serang HERE


  1. Look at you go with those raised beds!! I’m impressed. And almost as jealous of them as I am of your stunning views!! 🙂

    Great review of Serang, too! I’ve got it on my Kindle, and am looking forward to reading it, myself. And I’ve shared, too! 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing Marsh, and I’m afraid I will have to keep on making you jealous – this garden is only going to get better, and the views change with the season, but are always gorgeous ❤

      1. And my garden only gets weedier as I’ve not felt up to finishing the long-overdue clean up from our last hurricane. It was disheartening to see ALL of my rose garden destroyed, but I DO plan to replant. However, it’s 90+ outside again, so it might wait for fall. As for the views, while I quite like my oak trees and birds, nothing beats YOUR pics!! So, yep. I’ll be jealous for some time, I’m sure. (Like forever!) 😀 But I don’t begrudge you a moment of it! Just ask that you enjoy it twice as much, on my behalf. 😀

      2. I can happily comply with that request ❤
        And I don't blame you, waiting for cooler weather – most of the time here we are waiting for it to be warm enough for things to grow, but this year is going very well so far.

  2. I really enjoyed Serang. It had a much more serious tone than its companion novel, Voyage of the Lanternfish, but Serang is a much more serious character than many of the shipmates (I’m thinking of you, root monsters!) so the tone was well suited to the story. And I thought of all the characters, he chose the perfect one to spotlight. Her life was both tragic and inspiring, and the work revealed it all in a beautiful way.

    1. Serang obviously needed a novel to herself – that’s a lot of backstory she has behind her!

  3. I’m so excited that you enjoyed Serang, and chose to tell your followers about it. After I finish my rounds this morning I’ll probably write a little more of Serang’s story.

    1. Ooh, I look forward to reading more ❤

      1. She’ll be in the entire Lanternfish trilogy. Book two is in progress.

  4. I enjoyed reading about Serang, and this made a nice follow up to Lanternfish, where we first met this character. It’s lovely to see such a glowing review here. And, as you say, both books make good stand alones.

    Good luck with those flower beds, and I love those views.

    1. Thanks Harmony – the flower beds will come later – these are all veg and fruit. The farmhouse and grounds are lovely, but I don’t even want to think about how much more work there is to do!

    2. Thank you for saying so here.

  5. Reblogged this on Entertaining Stories and commented:
    Serang gets some love over at Deborah Jay’s blog today. I don’t have to look any farther to find my good thing of the day while staying safe at home. I think I’ll celebrate by writing a bit more of Serang’s story this morning.

  6. I really love Serang in both The Lanternfish and her own story. I’m glad there are going to be more books with her. In this book, I enjoyed reading about her training with the monks. They were so quirky and wise, they kept surprising me.

    1. It really reminded me of Kung Fu, which I loved as a kid. And yes, I’m delighted to hear there will be more of her story coming along soon.

      1. I think Kung Fu is a good comparison. I didn’t do the flashbacks, but there are some similarities.

    2. Appreciate you saying so in a public forum. Things like that really help authors.

  7. OMG, your views are stunning! I could definitely daydream looking over that vista 🙂

    I really enjoyed Serang, too. She’s one of my favorite characters from Voyage of the Lanternfish. It was great learning more about her background in her own book!

    1. Thank you for saying so here, Mae. Made my day, for sure.

    2. I’ve been waiting 20 years to move up here, I can hardly believe it’s happened at last ❤
      And it's great to hear so many people echo my feelings about Serang.

  8. Amazing statistic about the ski resort. How do you figure out what to wear up there!

    1. Layering, my dear, layering. My car is full of clothing so I always have the appropriate item with me. It does mean there is next to no room on the back seats 😀

  9. Wonderful review for Craig’s book, congrats to him. And I love your garden! Looks like serenity there. Where better to be in these times. Glad you’re keeping busy and doing well. Hugs. ❤

    1. I realise how lucky I am to have this amount of space, and also the solitude that makes social distancing no problem at all aside from the rare trip out for groceries. By the time we get into the growing season, even that won’t be as frequent 😀
      Stay safe, Deb, I know how vigilant you are on that front, but I’ve had 2 friends catch infections (not CV19) while in full isolation. These viruses are tricky beasts!

    2. Thank you for your kind words.

  10. Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:
    This is an entertaining book with solid characters. Read this Serang review from deborahjay.

    1. Thanks for the reblog 😀

    2. Thanks for the help.

  11. British people are amazing, Deborah. So industrious and hard working, I can’t believe how many British people garden and grew vegetables. It is fantastic. If only the people here in Africa were like this.

    1. It think it’s in the blood – up here in Scotland ‘crofting’ is still a way of life in some of the more remote reaches. Total self-sufficiency is a very hard way of living, but going part way there with fruit, vegetables and chickens for eggs, isn’t that challenging, it just needs a bit of time, and we currently have that in abundance!

      1. I think it’s great and a good use of this time.

  12. Your garden looks so inviting! And thanks for the reminder to pick up Serang. It’s the next on my Craig-list. 🙂

  13. What a great review! And a great looking garden! 😁

    1. Thank you twice!

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