A seductive story about love and betrayal, Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez is an enchanting new take on the Tristan & Eseult legend.
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 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.
I absolutely loved this book. I was completely swept away by the lush setting, seductive characters, and tense plot. Even knowing where the story was ultimately heading (it is based on Tristan & Eseult — some plot twists shouldn’t surprise you if you’re even a little familiar with the legend), I still found myself on the figurative “edge of my seat,” anxiously reading to find out what would happen next and how things would play out.
And while there is magic in Sweet Black Waves, the book still feels more like a historical legend than it does high fantasy. And when the magic does come into play? It feels very organic to the world this story takes place in; everything has a natural, easy flow to it that makes the story easy to fall into, despite a flurry of complicated names and places to remember. (The list of characters at the beginning of the book certainly helps too!) The overall result is a cool pseudo-historical vibe with just a few strategic splashes of of the mystical.
This is the first in a series, so don’t be surprised that the ending leaves plenty open — but Perez does an excellent job of still wrapping up this first volume in such a way that it feels satisfying. You’re left wanting more, but not left wanting. Ya know what I mean?
Sweet Black Waves is in stores now.