Hello humans! It feels as though it’s been a minute since I’ve done a readalong. My excuse is that I was very caught up in reading an ARC of Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard and then I wanted to mood read and ended up reading Labyrinth Lost rather than the book that my TBR Teacup picked out. But I’m here now and I’m ready to start reading Sweet Black Waves, a book kindly gifted to me by the delightful Asha. Let’s see how this goes!
Not you without me, not me without you.
Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.
As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.
Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Iseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.
Is this the point where I confess to not knowing the tale of Tristan and Iseult very well? (Asha don’t judge me).
Yes, I absolutely have to look up the original story. Will do that once I’ve written this – oops. So far I’m definitely enjoying the writing style, but I’m not totally convinced by the romance? I suppose with this kind of a story a certain amount of ‘ok fine you can fall for each other that fast’ is needed – it’s a romance after all. I love a healer though, and I’m always here for some ‘old gods vs new’ so this should be a book I end up enjoying. Another thing I’m enjoying – all the references to the sea. I grew up by the sea and it influences my writing a lot so I enjoy seeing that love for all things ocean in other books.
Although… Tantris. Tan-tris. Tantris. Tantris. Oh boy.
Part Two (First Half)
Yeah, part two is long, so I’ve split it in two so you actually get my reaction and not my fumbled misremembering. I looked up the original – ooer. Interestingly, it’s only really now at pretty much halfway through the book that the plot is really starting to take shape. However, while in other books that would have meant 250 pages of boring-ness to get to the plot, in this case, the set up is equally exciting, we’ve had shipwrecks and swordfights and magic and honestly, I wouldn’t have minded had it continued in that vein. But now there’s a love potion rearing its head and, much like Chekhov’s Gun, I think it’ll have to be used and will go wrong before too long…
Part Two (Second Half) – End
If you’ve read a few of these readalongs you’ll be familiar with what happened here – yes, I binge read the last 50% of this book from the bath. I am what I am and those hoping to get a readalong from myself that doesn’t end in ‘I binge read this in the bath’ should possibly give up on those dreams…sorry. But I have good news – it’s a good book! I knew going in that this was going to be a romance and, to be perfectly honest, I’m not the biggest fan of books that have a romance focus (I don’t mind it as a sub-plot but murder is by far my preference if I have the choice). So, the fact that I enjoyed this book despite that bias is a testament to how good it is. I liked that a lot of the second half of this book actually takes place at sea – I’ve already talked about my love for the sea – and Chekhov’s Love Potion resolved itself in a way that wasn’t overly predictable. In fact, I thought this book would end at a very different place to where it did, clearly baiting me to read the sequel…it worked.
I rated this book four out of five stars, because I did very much enjoy it. It didn’t quite have that wow factor that makes me give that elusive fifth star, but it was a good story, an interesting take on a classic tale, and the characters were well worth reading. I loved the connection with the setting, you very much get a feel for the land these characters inhabit and then the ocean they travel on. I thought there could have been a touch more emphasis on the magic, but I imagine that’s something that is built upon in book two. Overall, I’d say this is a great book for fantasy romance lovers!
My rating: 4/5 stars
What will the TBR tea-cup pick next?
It’s V E Schwab’s The Dark Vault. YES! I’ve been wanting to read this since I pre-ordered it. Fabulous. Keep an eye out for my readalong (which is bound to be a long one since this is a bit of a brick. I’m headed in to London tomorrow (well, it won’t be tomorrow by the time you’re reading this) and need to travel light so it might be a couple of days before I read this, but please do follow me either here on over on my Twitter so you’ll see when I post new reviews!
What say you? Have you read Sweet Black Waves? What did you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!