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Sweet Black Waves

Review

Sweet Black Waves

In this debut YA fantasy perfect for fans of GRACELING and THE MISTS OF AVALON, a bloody war rages between two kingdoms separated by the sea. The story centers around Branwen, lady-in-waiting and best friend to the Princess of Iveriu. Branwen’s entire world revolves around her love for her homeland and Princess, but she harbors a relentless rage towards the invading kingdom of Kernyv whose raiders killed her parents.

One fateful night, Lady Branwen unknowingly pulls an enemy from the sea and saves his life. As she wars with her hatred for his people and her personal duty as a healer, a strange new magic is awakened in her heart...along with the beginnings of a star-crossed love. When tensions in Iveriu begin to rise and Branwen’s magic threatens to control her, she must decide between peace for her kingdom and her own true happiness.

"This was an extremely well-written and imaginative story that I overall enjoyed. I was impressed with Pérez’s ability to keep me surprised and engaged throughout most of the plotline..."

Odai eti ama: I love and I hate. Those words were a recurring theme throughout this story, and it so perfectly describes my feelings towards this book. To start off, this book is a retelling of the legend of Tristan and Iseult and set in dark-ages Ireland. I love old legends and stories, but I hated that I wasn’t familiar with this one. See where I’m going with this? I loved how strong-willed and loyal Branwen was, but I hated how quickly and easily she fell for the love interest. I loved how Branwen’s love for her cousin and homeland was more powerful than any romantic love, but I hated how her cousin Essy took advantage of it. I loved the main love story because I am a complete sucker for swoony romances, but I didn't like how instant and cheesy it was. I loved the magic and mythical elements of the story, but there were times when I felt that either nothing was happening, or way too much was happening.

For the most part, this was an extremely well-written and imaginative story that I overall enjoyed. I was impressed with Pérez’s ability to keep me surprised and engaged throughout most of the plotline, and it contained some really important messages that I thought were delivered well. I really enjoyed how strong all of the characters personalities were, but there were a couple characters (yes, Essy, I’m talking about you) who I had some real problems with. She was a very central character with an obvious love for her country and cousin, but at heart was so incredibly selfish. That being said, the character flaws were mostly purposeful and humanizing. There were also characters, such as Branwen herself and her love interest, whose strengths far outweighed their weaknesses.

As for how the book ended, I was completely and totally unprepared for the utter heartbreak of it, so be forewarned, there is nothing happy about this ever after. I am praying that Pérez finds a way to redeem some of the characters in the next book, because there is no part of me that is okay with how things were left.

Overall, SWEET BLACK WAVES was enjoyable, magical and unbearably romantic (with an occasional emphasis on the unbearable). I would recommend this book to fantasy and romance lovers, especially those with a special appreciation for myths and legends.

Reviewed by Katie T., Teen Board Member on July 10, 2018

Sweet Black Waves
by Kristina Pérez