Friday, June 1, 2018

ARC Review: Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez

Sweet Black Waves
Author: Kristina Perez
Series: Sweet Black Waves Trilogy (Book 1)
Publication: Imprint (June 5, 2018)

Description: 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 closest confidant and the only man she's ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, 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.

My Thoughts: Branwen is an orphan who is the niece of the queen and the best friend and lady-in-waiting to her cousin Princess Eseult. She is mostly treated as another daughter of the queen and the princess's sister. Her parents were killed by the Kernyvaks and she has grown up with a hatred for them.

When she rescues and heals a young sailor, she is dismayed to learn that he is Kernyvak. She is torn between her vows as a healer and her own hatred. Gradually she falls in love with the young man but, when raiders come to find him, she encourages him to get to safety before soldiers from her country can find him. She thinks she will never see him again.

Meanwhile, the king has decided to hold a tournament for Princess Eseult's hand since she can't rule and the country needs a strong man to be her husband. Eseult, Essy to her family, is not on board with this plan. She is spoiled and self-absorbed and wants to choose her own husband. Naturally, she fixes her mind on a very unsuitable man. Branwen's rescued sailor, now revealed as Prince Tristan of Keryvak, is there to compete in the tournament as the champion for his uncle King Marc.

When treachery threatens his life, Branwen has to call on the magical heritage that she didn't really believe in to heal him. This magical heritage changes so much for Branwen and puts one more barrier between her and her cousin who didn't inherit it.

I liked the worldbuilding in this fantasy debut. I liked Branwen who was becoming a strong woman willing for fight for her homeland. The one thing I couldn't quite believe was Branwen's loyalty to Essy who didn't deserve her regard. Momentary kindness and charm wasn't enough to make her deserving of Branwen's loyalty and love.

The story is said to be loosely based on the medieval tale of Tristan and Iseult. Most of this story was the build-up to the key events of that tale. I look forward to reading more in this trilogy.

Favorite Quote:
If peace could not be found, this wourl be Iveriu's fare. Truly, it was more lethal than a destiny snake.

It was her duty to prevent this -- to protect Iveriu at all costs.

Otherwise, all that would remain of her beloved homeland was ash floating on a starless tide.

Branwen stopped fighting. She let the venom infuse her. If she saved Tristan and the Land, the black waves would be sweet -- sweet, indeed.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

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