Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books With An Ocean Setting

Posted August 16, 2016 by Ellen in Meme / 15 Comments

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted weekly by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is Top Ten Books With an X Setting, where X is each blog’s own choice. Ellen immediately was drawn to a certain setting… the ocean. What especially is interesting to her, is how the ocean can play a meaningful part in the book, whether it’s an important backdrop, a symbolic force, or even a source of conflict! With these choices below, the stories would not exist or be as powerful without the ocean being involved.

Sierra’s Picks

A Ring of Endless Delight · Madeline L’Engle
Austin Family #5

A Ring of Endless LightThis is a childhood favorite of mine that still holds up for me after all these years. I remember re-reading this book over and over again during those times that I longed to be a part of the Austin family. This book focuses on Vicky Austin and her siblings while they visit their ailing grandfather who lives on an island. During this time, Vicky gets involved with a friend’s research on dolphins. Her time in the ocean and her connections with her dolphin friends play a big role as she tries to accept her grandfather’s fate. As a fun fact, this is also a Disney Channel original movie! I believe Jared Padelecki made his debut here.

Ship of Magic · Robin Hobb
Liveship Traders #1

shipofmagicThis has been a popular entry on my Top Ten Tuesdays! I can’t help it guys, it just fits SO WELL. This is about a merchant family who makes their living from sailing their liveship from port to port. Liveships are made from a special type of wood which allows the ships to have a semblance of sentience. After three generations of family members pass away on the liveship, the liveship awakens as a fully sentient being. THAT PREMISE IS SO COOL. And you know, the ocean is important cause… ships. Duh.

The Scorpio Races · Maggie Stiefvater

scorpio races coverOne of my ALL-TIME favorites! It happens to be Ellen’s as well and she also picked this one for her list! Her description is far superior than anything I could write up.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane · Neil Gaiman

The ocean at the end of the laneNeil Gaiman is a gorgeous writer. This whole book is so damn quotable. It’s also a wonderful introduction to Neil’s adult works since this is the shortest of his published novels. This book is whimsical and child-like but not in a way that’s patronizing or superficial. I will not say anymore. It is best to go into this book with a hot cup of tea or cocoa and lose yourself for a few hours with no interruptions.

Troubled Waters · Sharon Shinn
Elemental Blessings #1

troubledwatersThis was my first Sharon Shinn book and it definitely wasn’t the last! My memory of this book is a little dull (time for a re-read I daresay). I don’t believe there is mention of the ocean per-say. However, the elements and elemental magic play a huge role within this society. Water, of course, is one of them.

Ellen’s Picks

The Rapture of the Deep · L.A. Meyer 

rapture of the deep cover

Of course, I knew I’d be picking an L.A. Meyer book! The question was… which freaking one? It came down to In the Belly of the Bloodhound versus The Rapture of the Deep. I went so far as to put the cover up for In the Belly of the Bloodhound, but changed my mind when writing this feature. In The Rapture of the Deep, Jackie Faber is coerced by the British government into recovering huge amounts of treasure from a Spanish shipwreck off the Bahamas. They give her new technology, a diving bell, and tell Jackie to get them their money… or else. The descriptions of Jackie’s underwater explorations are breathtaking. Also… feminism! As a British “lady” in the 1800’s, it was extremely untoward for Jackie to be so athletic. Seeing her drop jaws and swim like a fish makes for fist-lifting triumph!

Daughter of Deep Silence · Carrie Ryan


The ocean is a striking backdrop for a vicious revenge tale in Daughter of Deep Silence. The book wasn’t the best read on the planet, but I loved the role that water played in the story. It vacillates amongst being a harsh adversary, a chilling reminder, and a sensual surrounding. Although it isn’t explicitly communicated, I also thought that the unforgiving and boundless ocean echoed the main character’s rage and her need for revenge.

Read my full review of Daughter of Deep Silence HERE.

The Scorpio Races · Maggie Steifvater

scorpio races cover

The Scorpio Races is one of my favorite books of all time. In it, the mythology of the Capaill Uisce, or flesh-eating water horses, is brought to life. What if the Capaille Uisce were real? What if their only home on land was a small, cold island? What if people, from around the world, came to that island to witness an annual, deadly race along a rocky stretch of beach? All of these what-ifs and more are answered and explored in The Scorpio Races. 

Read my full review of The Scorpio Races HERE.

The Odyssey · Homer

the odyssey cover

In The Odyssey, an ocean separates Odysseus from his home and his family following the Trojan War. He must travel across the watery landscape for years, encountering and outsmarting the worst monsters that the sea and the gods can spew at him. This epic poem originated in Greece, and having the great fortune to have visited that country, I can attest that the ocean is a powerful and unescapable facet of the landscape. How apt that one of Greece’s greatest epics would feature the ocean so prominently.

The Child of the Prophecy · Juliet Marillier 

child of prophecy cover

This book is so romantic! The daughter of a reclusive sorcerer, Fianne is destined to play a crucial role in a prophecy. Fianne grows up knowing that she will have to make great sacrifices in her life, but her friendship with a traveling gypsy boy, Darragh, is an idyllic part of her childhood. One season every year, Darragh and his family travel to Fianne’s village, and the children play by the rocky coastline adjacent to Fianne’s home in the cliffside caves. When they grow up, however, Fianne must leave home to begin her heart-wrenching task. Darragh, however, will not give up on the girl he loves. This story is epic and beautiful, and the ocean becomes, many times, a way for Darragh to prove his incredible devotion. How, you ask? You’ll just have to read to find out!

We are so incredibly excited to see what you guys picked as your setting. Make sure you link your own Top Ten Tuesday so we can stop by and say hello!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

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