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When Hugo and Ada travel to their friend Dorian’s planet for the holidays, android Hugo is anxious about being accepted by Dorian’s powerful family. But when they arrive on Hydrox, there are more pressing things to worry about, as the planet has been overrun by refugee butterflies. Displaced from their home by climate change, the butterflies have been offered sanctuary by Dorian’s parents, but they’re quickly running out of space. Meanwhile, beneath the seas, a strange creature is wreaking all kinds of havoc …
Can Hugo, Dorian and Ada step in before the crisis gets out of control?

The sequel to The Starlight Watchmaker is particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 12+.

120 pages, Paperback

First published February 15, 2021

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About the author

Lauren James

16 books1,424 followers

**I don't respond to messages on here - email me at laurenjamesauthor[at]gmail[dot]com or send an ask on Tumblr instead***

Lauren James is the thrice Carnegie-nominated British author of many Young Adult novels, including Green Rising, The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. She is a RLF Royal Fellow at Aston University, freelance editor and screenwriter.

Lauren is the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League, and member of the Society of Authors’ Sustainability Committee. She works as a consultant on climate storytelling for museums, production companies and publishers, with a focus on optimism and hope.

Her books have sold over two hundred thousand copies worldwide in seven languages. The Quiet at the End of the World was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and STEAM Children’s Book Award.

Her other novels include The Next Together series, the dyslexia-friendly novella series The Watchmaker and the Duke and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise.

Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly.

She was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and many of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. She sold the rights to her first novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university.

Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient.  She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, The Author magazine, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2023. She has taught creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands. Her next release is Last Seen Online, scheduled for publication in 2024.

Website | Twitter  | Instagram |  Tumblr  | Facebook | Mailing list | Wattpad 

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5 stars
49 (32%)
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67 (43%)
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28 (18%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 40 reviews
Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,424 followers
January 22, 2021
It's here!!

Watch me introduce The Deep-Sea Duke and read the first chapter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G0fp...

I’m so excited to share The Deep-Sea Duke, coming out with Barrington Stoke in Feb. This is set on an underwater planet, who are facing a climate crisis as refugees from a nearby planet keep arriving. It’s a scavenger hunt, a love story, and a drama of courtly intrigue in the nobility. I’m so excited about it, and I love this cover so much!

“A rich and brilliantly bonkers story of aliens and androids. Its themes of social justice and equality really set it apart in the sci-fi genre.” – The Belfast Telegraph about The Starlight Watchmaker.

Hugo is spending the holidays on his friend Dorian’s home planet, Hydrox. Although thrilled at the invitation, Hugo is still astonished that Duke Dorian could possibly want to be friends with an android watchmaker like him. But when the pair land on Hydrox along with their friend Ada, they soon discover that there are much bigger problems afoot.

A race of butterflies from a neighbouring star system have evacuated their now-uninhabitable planet, and Hydrox is struggling to find space for the growing number of refugees. Meanwhile, deep in the seas beneath Dorian’s home, a strange creature is on a path of destruction…

Can the unlikely trio step in before the crisis gets out of control?

Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 12+, this is a sequel to The Starlight Watchmaker, which was shortlisted for the STEAM Children’s Book Prize 2020 and nominated for the Carnegie medal.

The second book in The Watchmaker and the Duke series is a 17,000 word novella which will be published in paperback and eBook by Barrington Stoke on 4th February.
Profile Image for Sydney Piepgrass.
284 reviews1 follower
February 4, 2021
It turns out Hugo, Dorian and Ada still own my heart with how adorable and brilliant they are. I am so happy I reread The Starlight Watchmaker because I was able to fully appreciate their character arcs and the world-building as a whole.

The Deep-Sea Duke is just another example of how James can write sci-fi in the most universal and accessible way. This one even more so than her other novels since it is written with a non-reader audience in mind, but expertly maintains the themes and aspects that often come with this genre, even when simplified. The way politics and environmental concerns are addressed is so relevant and handled just as deftly as in the first book.

The characters are also really well-developed for the short amount of page time they get in this little novella. It is just all so sweet and wholesome and fun to read. Hugo and Dorian's story is one to pick up when you want something warm and fluffy (and some perfect escapism).
Profile Image for Liz.
318 reviews34 followers
July 14, 2022
“All the qualities that Dorian had listed were things he’d thought were weaknesses. But Dorian seemed to think they were his biggest strengths.”

“Dorian made a happy noise and buried his head in Hugo’s neck. Hugo still wasn’t used to this kind of affection, but he was willing to spend the rest of his life trying.”

Brb, crying over how adorable these two are ♥️🥹
Profile Image for Dreximgirl.
1,029 reviews23 followers
February 1, 2021
Did I just cry because these boys are so beautiful? Yes, yes I did. This was just so wholesome. Dorian and Hugo have the most wonderful relationship and I love them with everything in me. Ada is the bestest friend to them both and the whole story was just beautiful. This book was the hug I needed.
Profile Image for Em.
995 reviews19 followers
March 1, 2021
A cute little sci-fi adventure with a nice example of how climate change can affect diplomacy and how introducing new species to an environment can throw things into disarray.
Profile Image for Nikki.
941 reviews47 followers
February 7, 2021
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This series may be short but it is oh so sweet. The Deep-Sea Duke is just as heartwarming as it's predecessor, and really ties up everything I was hoping for in The Starlight Watchmaker! It's so pure and lovely.

Hugo continues to be the sweetest marshmallow android ever, and I wanted to hug him every time he had doubts. Dorian is adorable and I love that he loves Hugo. And Ada is just sweet and hilarious - the scenes of her playing with the butterflies was brilliant.

I also love that this book covers so many topics so well. We see the impacts of climate change and the importance of helping others dealt with, as well as including LGBT+ content. Lauren James truly is a fantastic writer to squeeze all that into this short but perfect book.

5 stars.
Profile Image for K..
3,595 reviews1,000 followers
August 2, 2022
Trigger warnings: climate change, anxiety

This is precious and pure and wonderful. The protagonist is an android who's fallen for/been befriended by a prince and together they solve low stakes mysteries with the help of their friend who's literally a planet. It's weird and quirky and exactly what you'd expect from a Lauren James book. I flew through this and it definitely gave me more Capital F Feelings than I anticipated. The discussion of climate change as a result of community actions was well done.
Profile Image for Perfektionaise.
268 reviews7 followers
September 12, 2021
This volume is even cuter than the first one!
Gosh! The story is just so great for younger kids to show them the consequences of the draining of resources and the climate change because of it. And the characters are so beautiful and lovely and their development is so so cute.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
1,248 reviews26 followers
July 11, 2021
My heart ached for poor Hugo, never feeling like he's enough, despite his friends really caring for him. I find it impossible to picture Ada, the size of a small building??? I'd love to see this as a cartoon. The unexpected romance that pops up is so sweet!
Profile Image for Amy Walker  - Trans-Scribe Reviews.
774 reviews10 followers
February 10, 2021
The Deep-Sea Duke is the follow up to The Starlight Watch Maker, and I'm sad to say that I haven't read the first book, but despite that I never felt like I got lost in this engaging and interesting story about this collection of unusual friends and the love they have for each other.

The story is about a trio of friends who met in the previous book, where two of them were students at an academy for children of wealthy and influential people from across the galaxy. There's Dorian, the price of the planet Hydrox, a green skinned young man from a species who lives under water and evolved from aquatic life. Ada is a stark contrast, being a member of a species of sentient rock people. Not only is she made from stone and has lava inside her, but her species increases their mass as they age, and she'll one day become her own sentient planet. And lastly there's Hugo, a boy who was made in a factory. An android that was created to serve, and eventually left behind by his former owner, he created his own watchmaking business.

The three leads are one of the most mismatched trio's I think I've ever seen in a book. They're so completely different to each other, so fantastic and unusual, but their friendship and love for each other form a bond where it doesn't matter the kind of person you are on the outside, only who you are on the inside that matters.

Together, the three of them have travelled to Dorian's home planet of Hydrox, where they plan to spend their summer break before Dorian and Hugo return to the academy; Ada has already graduated and won't be returning with them, so they're seeing this as their last time together. Expecting a relaxed summer in Dorian's family home, full of swimming in the sea and eating algae ice cream, the three of them are shocked to find the floating platforms that make up part of Hydrox filled with butterfly people, who seem to be living in tents.

The three friends discover that the butterfly people have had to leave their home-world after climate change has made it deadly to their children, who can no longer survive their cocoon stage of life thanks to the pollutants in the air and the increased heat. Despite having known that their reliance on fossil fuels and their lifestyles would lead to such change they were too late to prevent the outcome, and have had to leave their home in order to survive. Thankfully, Dorian's family have agreed to take them in and prove a home for them. However, it seems like they may have brought a new species of otter with them that is causing havoc for the inhabitants of Hydrox, and may be leading to disaster. Now it's down to Hugo and his friends to try and save everyone.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about The Deep-Sea Duke was how writer Lauren James manages to weave a very important message into the narrative without it feeling like it's overwhelming things. There are children's stories that deal with climate change, and how destructive that can be, but often these kind of messages are very clear from the outset, and make the story about that. Whilst it's good that more children's literature are covering this subject, it can put some kids off, children who might not want to read about such a big and scary topic. What this book does, however, is present this in a very subtle way.

The loss of the butterfly's planet is the event behind the issues being faced in this book, it informs the story and puts the trio of heroes into conflict as they try to save everyone, but it's still a story about these three friends getting into an adventure. The book does the clever thing of shining a light onto the subject of environmentalism and climate change without it seeming preachy or overwhelming. And it all comes in a fun science fiction package too.

James also manages to create an interesting universe for things to happen in, one that is full of weird and wonderful people. Most science fiction that I've read will involve humans in some way, and will incorporate aliens and machines into the stories, but here there wasn't a single human person present. All of the characters were aliens, or Hugo who was an android. Because I'd not read the first book I don't even know if humans do exist in this universe or not? Either way, it's a bold choice to have a story where there are no human characters, and instead children are left to identify with the characters by their personalities alone. No one is going to look at Ada and identify with her because they're a huge rock person who's going to be a planet one day, but they can relate to her sense of fun, her kindness, and her willingness to help others. These are the kinds of qualities that really matter, and ones that kids will love about these characters.

Now, to get a bit spoilery about the ending. If you don't want to know how the book ends just jump to the ext paragraph, I completely understand not wanting to have things spoilt if you've not read the book yet, but I have to talk about the ending because I loved it so much. At the end of the book, when Dorian is talking about when he's finished with his studies and will go on to rule Hydrox as its king he asks Hugo if he wants to be with him as his partner. Now, I had a feeling this was coming thanks to stuff mentioned earlier in the book, but what I did not expect was what happened next, when Dorian made it clear that he meant as his romantic partner, and asked Hugo to be prince regent. Seemingly out of nowhere the book had the sweetest, loveliest queer love moments I've read and I completely adored it. Even though Hugo is an android he's referred to with only male pronouns throughout the book, so this is definitely a same sex paring, and I loved it. For this book that was about friendship and helping others, with this climate change message in there too to suddenly have an LGBTQ+ romance was just the best.

I enjoyed The Deep-Sea Duke a lot more than I thought I would. I was worried that I might be left behind a little as I hadn't read the first book, but it was so easy to pick up and get into. It has some wonderful characters who I quickly came to care for, a world full of amazing people and moments, and an ending that melted my heart. I hope that we get more from these characters in the future, though because of the way the book ended it would be in a very different form, but I still hope that we can check in on Hugo, Dorian, and Ada some day in the future.
Profile Image for Steph.
898 reviews67 followers
February 16, 2021
There’s something wonderfully bonkers about this story... in a good way! Great friendships are built on helping each other in times of need and working things out - even when they seem really hard. I liked the ending; I thought it was fitting! Lots of science in this!
Profile Image for CJ.
47 reviews50 followers
April 16, 2021
A charming read with dashes of real world topics and out of the box world building packed into 120 pages!

Also pesky otters causing havoc.

Profile Image for Beth Jones.
597 reviews46 followers
June 23, 2021
This is such an adorable and imaginative companion to The Starlight Watchmaker. I’m so glad I reread the first one in order to completely connect to this crazy world and lovely characters again, and it definitely helped me fully appreciate this next step on their journey.

Every time I read these books I am blown away by how creative Lauren James is. I can’t even begin to comprehend where the ideas for this amazing world come from, with different planets and species all living and working together. But despite the strange world and planets, I still managed to picture this in all of it’s vivid glory. This reads young, but is also so accessible to all readers and a great introduction to the scifi genre with a focus on the characters. I also particularly enjoyed how climate change is woven throughout this book and brought to the attention of the reader early on.

The characters are so adorable and I loved reading about their relationships with one another. They are so accepting of each other’s quirks and personalities, and this felt like a very important ideal to portray for young readers. They are so well-developed and I really feel for them throughout these stories, which is an impressive feat considering how short these books are.

If you’re looking for an imaginative scifi with a diverse cast of characters and a lovely moral behind their stories, honestly go and pick this Dyslexia friendly (published by Barrington Stoke) series up!

4 out of 5 stars


May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽
Profile Image for Caitlyn.
198 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2021
This books is the sequel to The Starlight Watchmaker and it picks up after the end of that book when Dorian, Hugo and Ada are travelling to Dorian's home planet to spend the holiday there. Dorian is excited to show his friends around. However, when they arrive, it becomes clear that everything is not normal. A hundreds of refugee butterflies have been given sancutary on the planet after their own world has been destroyed by climate change. More butterflies are arriving all the time and space is running out. Can Dorian, Hugo and Ada come up with a solution to these problems so that everyone has somewhere safe to live?

As I already knew that characters, I enjoyed this book more than the first. The relationship between the three main characters was cute and I liked the way that they all had chances to shine and skills to offer. The plot felt less complicated than the first book, which for me worked better with the length of the book.

The book provided good opportunities for discussions about climate change, refugees and also self-esteem and belonging. I did like the way that the book ended, even though it was very predicatable and I'm pleased that .
Author 4 books25 followers
March 20, 2021
THE DEEP-SEA DUKE is another fun, quick read set in an inventive universe. Lauren James has clearly had so much fun creating the world of Hydrox and Ada in particular (she's an alien race that grows into a planet eventually).

There are some really fun linguistic world building (particularly in a book that's only 17k long so has to be really sparse). For example, it's "starlight" not "sunlight", as the stars the planets orbit aren't called "the Sun"! It's small details like this that really show how much care was put into creating this book.

By a funny coincidence, I read this just after another climate-change book (THE FOREVER SEA). THE DEEP-SEA DUKE is a lot more obvious about the theme and message, which isn't my favourite style. However, given the word count restrictions on a book like this and the fact it is designed for children who struggle to read (so may find thematic comprehension less easy), then it makes sense to be more obvious.

To me, the romance came out of nowhere. It was sweet when it happened, but I'd read Hugo's preceding thoughts as ones of friendship worries (given there didn't feel like much from Dorian's side). Thus, I was very surprised when Dorian proposed and kissed him. My friend says the romance was very much set up throughout and that it's just my un-romantically inclined brain not noticing, so take of that what you will!
Profile Image for Joelie.
881 reviews7 followers
January 8, 2023
I really hope that the ending leaves the option for Lauren James to write more in this series. As the sequel to The Watchmaker, The Deep-Sea Duke was full of all of the wonderful and weird elements that I have come to expect from the brain this Author. I’m pretty sure these books are not only middle grade but we’re intended to be targeted for people with dyslexia. I read the first one a couple of years ago and it has one of my favourite passages in it of all time so I was excised for the sequel and it delivered. The characters/aliens in this story are so uniquely written to anything else that I have come across. I love that Ada is this walking mini planet that can grow Forrest’s and spew lava, I love that Hugo is an android but can change the decorations on his body to replicate the surrounds and his mood like a chameleon. It’s just all so weird and wonderful!
Profile Image for Jen.
1,402 reviews35 followers
April 14, 2021
** 3.5 stars **

This was just as cute as the first book and I loved getting to see more of Hugo, Dorian and Ada.

However the plot wasn't quite as captivating. I liked that the author tried to tackle politics and issues such as climate change, but it was always going to be difficult to adequately achieve that in so few pages.

I also wasn't a fan of the romance. There were no hints or any build up and then suddenly the romance came out of nowhere. It felt more forced than believable.

Again, this was expensive and overpriced for such a short book.
Profile Image for Bev.
1,038 reviews45 followers
March 9, 2021
Having read the prequel to this (The Starlight Watchmaker) and loved it I was very happy to renew my acquaintance with the three unusual main protagonists. Space travel, new worlds and cultures are very much a feature of this story with a strong ecological message and an adorable romance thrown in. Fabulous to see this band of diverse friends bonding together like glue and becoming a permanent part of each other’s lives.
Profile Image for Ellesha Syke.
70 reviews20 followers
February 14, 2021

🌊 When Hugo and Ada travel to their friend Dorian’s planet for the holidays, android Hugo is anxious about being accepted by Dorian’s powerful family. But when they arrive on Hydrox, there are more pressing things to worry about, as the planet has been overrun by refugee butterflies.⁠

Displaced from their home by climate change, the butterflies have been offered sanctuary by Dorian’s parents, but they’re quickly running out of space. Meanwhile, beneath the seas, a strange creature is wreaking all kinds of havoc…⁠

Can Hugo, Dorian and Ada step in before the crisis gets out of control? 🌊⁠

👑 We read a lot more about Hugo’s feelings of anxiety in this book. The fact that he was created as a servant and being treated previously as lesser means he doesn't feel good enough for those around him. He feels like he is boring too, but everyone else thinks he is interesting and unique. ⁠

👑 Unlike the previous book, they don’t have a task to begin with. The issue is their parents responsibility but they want to help. They are later tasked with figuring out why there are otters creating havoc and manage to solve everything pretty quickly. ⁠

👑 This is such a cool and bizarre story – it was fun to imagine another world and what these species would look like. Maybe I should start reading more science fiction… but I have no idea where to begin!

👑 I am so pleased with the little romance between Hugo and Dorian, it is hinted at in the first book and I love that Hugo has found someone to appreciate who he is, just as he is. It was a lovely evening read and my last book of January!⁠
Profile Image for Amy.
Author 4 books16 followers
February 17, 2021
Having loved the first one in the series, I was obviously super excited about reading the sequel. Unfortunately I didn't connect to this one as much.

Don't get me wrong, I still loved the characters and the ending was great for Hugo and Dorian but I didn't love the rest of the story.

I do love that Lauren James made a cli fi story really accessible to a younger audience but I found a lot of it heavy handed. I do know that I am not the target audience so I am sure that it will relate to those who it meant for.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 40 reviews

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