Published: March 19, 19
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: From author for review
... dazzling, intricate stand-alone fantasy novel set in award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst’s beloved world of Renthia.
Life is precious and precarious on the islands of Belene. Besieged by a capricious ocean full of malicious spirits, the people of the islands seek joy where they can. Mayara, one of the island’s fearless oyster divers, has found happiness in love. But on the day of her wedding to the artist Kelo, a spirit-driven storm hits the island with deadly force.
To save her loved ones, Mayara reveals a dangerous secret: she has the power to control the spirits. When the storm ends, she is taken into custody by the queen’s soldiers and imprisoned with other women like her.
They vary in age and social status, but to many they are heroes who will aide the country or witches that will sacrifice themselves trying. No matter who they are, the women are sent to a terrifying place—an island filled with bloodthirsty nature spirits, and left without food, water, shelter, or any tools except their own instincts and magic. Whoever survives the Island of Testing will be declared heirs to the queen. But no matter if she wins or loses, Mayara knows that the life she dreamed of is gone.My thoughts:
This is a book set in the world of Sarah Beth Durst's trilogy, The Queens of Renthia (goodreads link). I really loved that series and I do suggest that you read it before reading this one. The main reason is that the trilogy establishes the world in an engaging way. This book is a standalone from that world and it follows the sea and the "monsters" that dwell there. This series is also considered fantasy, but it is an accessible one and you shouldn't be afraid to jump in.
You get to know the main character Mayara and her beloved Kelo. Secondary characters are also well rounded out and a favorite sassy character from the previous books also makes an appearance. You have a few twists and even political intrigue which were all solved and some not in the way you would suspect. I also love that you even get a glimpse at some of the more evolved spirit's mind. That actually made me want more of that perspective. Even so, I would say that the glimpse actually works best within the story as a whole.
There is adventure, romance, heartbreak and betrayal within this story. Secrets and intrigue also adorn the pages. The whole series is a well rounded out world that I'm not sure I would want to live, but I do enjoy visiting. I also hope that we get to visit every corner of this world.
If you have not read this author's writing, I highly recommend that you at least try one of her books. She has several out there that are standalones. If you are hungry for a short series, do try the first book in the Queens of Renthia, The Queen of Blood.