The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst returns to the world of her Queens of Renthia series, with a new standalone companion that takes readers to the islands of Belene, where one woman will fight against the odds to return to the normal life she craves with her beloved.

The natural magic of the classic The Island of the Blue Dolphins meets the danger and courage of The Hunger Games in this 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.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Queens of Renthia series, and I loved getting to return to the world in The Deepest Blue. We never really spent much time in the islands of Belene in the original trilogy, so I loved experiencing this part of the world. Durst has imagined such a rich, nuanced fantasy world — it’s easy to see why she returned to it, when there is so much left to explore.

The Deepest Blue not only shows us a new setting in Renthia, but it further explores the magic of the spirits and introduces a fascinating new cast of characters (with one familiar face fans will recognize from the original trilogy). I loved Mayara and her husband Kelo; their relationship is so lovely and charming, and I loved seeing how it gives both of them strength as the plot of the book unfolds. We also meet a new queen, and other potential heirs — all of whom bring something new and refreshing to the story.

Uncovering new layers to the magic of this world, The Deepest Blue is a satisfying new addition to the mythology Durst first explored in the Queens of Renthia series. It’s available now.

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