Hello Humans! Today I’m reviewing the sequel to Kristina Perez’s Sweet Black Waves. I’ve actually met Kristina a couple of times as she tends to be at YALC and she is always a delight. I enjoyed Sweet Black Waves when I read it (earlier in the year?) but I wasn’t sure what to expect from a sequel. This time around, I went in with a fraction more knowledge about Tristan and Iseult so, in theory, this ought to have been easier than book one!
Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms.
Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart―and finds herself considering a darker path.
Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed―peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within…
I will preface this review with the fact that I read this during my YA slump (somewhat ongoing), where I just couldn’t quite find the same enjoyment in YA as I had previously. With that in mind, I think I might have rated this book higher and enjoyed it more if that hadn’t been the case, you have to be in the mood for romance-heavy YA and I just wasn’t. This may warrant a re-read when I’ve got my groove back.
That’s not to say this was a bad book, or that I had a bad experience reading it! On the contrary, I like the story, the characters, the setting and so forth. I think Branwen manages to be simultaneously her own woman and at the mercy of her situation throughout this book which is a very difficult thing to balance. I would have liked to have seen more magic from Branwen but I understand why that wasn’t the case. I definitely like her as a character, however, and the way that this book has her be so free and sex-positive definitely made an impact on me.
Worth noting, this book isn’t one that really focusses on women supporting other women. I got the feeling that this book intentionally makes it clear that, were it not for the circumstances Branwen and Essy would be best pals, and in some ways it is them and in others, it is useless men that keep them apart. It’s almost maddening the way things keep coming between them, though I wouldn’t say it feels unbelievable – it’s just not the happy story I think I needed – I cannot stress enough that that was a ‘me’ problem. I don’t think you go into a Tristan and Iseult story expecting a happy ending!
I liked the writing in this book, I think the descriptions of the landscape and the various settings are very evocative, you really get the sense of the connection Branwen has with the land, and the way that she appreciates her surroundings. I found this was particularly prevalent in the times where Branwen goes out of the castle and experiences nature. Just lovely descriptive writing!
As I say, this is a romance/romantic-conflict driven story and I do think that I have to be in the mood to read something like that, in this case, I just wasn’t in the right place but I would definitely still recommend both the books in this series, particularly if you love light fantasy romance and want something that is a little slower.
I definitely intend to add this to my ‘re-read when in better mood’ list and I’ll be sure to update you when that happens!
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Wild Savage Stars is available now!
What say you? What are some of your favourite YA books? Break me out of my slump!