Today I have my review of Beneath Cruel Fathoms, the first book in the Bitter Sea trilogy that, to me, was such a fantastic read! Finishing Beneath Cruel Fathoms had me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because it was such a great read and sad because I couldn’t immediately start the second book haha. It’s a book that I thoroughly loved reading and it left me craving more after finishing it. I’m so happy to share this review with you guys and introduce you to this author and this book!
After a violent storm destroys her ship, Isaura Johansdottir knows better than to hope she’ll be rescued from Eisland’s vast Failock Sea. Adrift and alone, her plans to start over lost, it’s a tragic conclusion after the disastrous end of her marriage—until she’s saved by Leonel, one of the merfolk, a creature long believed extinct. In repayment for her life, Leonel enlists her help to investigate the Failock’s mysterious and deadly plague of squalls. But when Isaura discovers Eisland’s ruthless new Lord commands the storms, her life will be in more danger on land than it ever was at sea.
As guardian of the Fathoms, Leonel must find the cause of unnatural storms ravaging the tidal currents and destroying the sea life. There are rumors of dark magic stirring in the Orom Abyss, the resting place of old, vanquished gods who tried to submerge the land millennia ago. Yet without proof, no one in King Ægir’s court will listen to him. And if it’s discovered he broke the Blue Laws to save a shipwrecked landweller, he might not survive the consequences.
As storms spread, Leonel and Isaura uncover secrets as forbidden as the bond that grows between them. Betrayal lurks in the restless sea, and when ancient powers lay siege to Eisland’s coast, the truth may be drowned along with everything else.
“Hunters come. They are- What is your word? They have fin on top.” He made a sharp whistle and jutted his fingers upward and toward his back. “Sharks?” She squeaked. “Is that what you mean?” “Yes, those.” “But you’re stronger than they are, right? You can kill them if they get too close?” “Kill them?” His eyes narrowed. “It is their nature to hunt.” “Is that supposed to matter? They want to eat us.” “They do no wrong. They come because of you. This bleeding.” “Oh well, many apologies. How inconsiderate of me to be injured in a shipwreck.” He made a snort of disdain. “Your kind should not even travel the water. It is not your world and you disturb ours with your crossing.” “And if the great continents weren’t underwater from the Gods’ War millennia ago, we wouldn’t need to, but here we are. Can we resume discussing our shark problem?” “They break no laws. I will not harm them for a dirt walker who should not be here in the first place.” “So, I’m to be fish food? I don’t believe this. You are the worst rescuer in history.” His brow thunderous, he hissed out a breath followed by an orchestra of clicks low in his throat. The sounds held a suspicious lack of courtesy. “That better not be directed at me or I’ll pan-fry your tail fin in butter and garlic.”
There are such interesting settings present, on land and beneath the sea surface. I really liked getting to know the world Leonal lived in especially, in the sea. It’s not the typical Atlantis setting as you may have seen in the Little Mermaid for example, even though the story has some Little Mermaid elements popping up every now and then, but it’s quite dark and dangerous from time to time! I haven’t nearly gotten enough of it all and can’t wait to read more about it.
“There may only be the two of us to stop them, but a smart plan can overpower a strong army any day.”
There’s so much awesome elements in this book that I don’t know where to start haha. There’s Norse mythology present, there are Gods present, there are monsters present, sirens and talk of mermen/mermaids. There’s action, adventure and a quest. There are great characters present, amazing character development, and a well developed romance.
The characters are truly interesting in their own way and their character development was just so well done in my opinion. Isaura is a really strong character for example, not only by heart but body as well. I was really surprised to see that she could really kick some ass and liked every bit of development revolving around her so much!
“Who guards the guardian, Leonel? Is there someone who will help you?”
He thought of his cove. The ruined safety. The silence filling his heart. “There is no one.”
Leonel was maybe even more interesting. He’s a mermen and has lived a brutal and difficult live thus far; not being wanted by anyone really, and being ‘tormented’ by his family (like his half sisters who want to do him harm and a mother who is never in his corner to support him) throughout his life. And despite that, he still has such a good and loyal heart. He fights for the weak. It broke my heart to read about his mental struggles, and it was so beautifully written. His determination to look into the magical storms that are tearing apart his world down below, and fix/fight them, has him crossing paths with Isaura along the way and from then on he’s being set up to make some difficult and life altering choices. His development throughout the book was really really really great and I just love him so dearly. Did I also mention he’s HOT AF? Lol. Sure, he has a tail fin and isn’t human and all that, but still… I’m a mermaid at heart, have always been so my entire life, so I think I’m granted in my feelings towards this character 😉
Her steady presence comforted him, her words from the cave alive in his mind. You are not alone. It had filled him with an unfamiliar warmth that left him uncertain. He wanted it to be true, and he didn’t. He was accustomed to being alone. He trusted solitude.
The forming bond between Isaura and Leonel is beautifully developed and believable. I love how they can be strong characters on themselves but how they can be strong with and for one another as well. It was a joy to follow their unfurling romance/relationship in combination with the banter between the two.
’It’s too sweet.” Of course it was. His usual diet wouldn’t include anything made with sugar. No wonder he looked like eating it thrashed his palette. “Yes, very sweet.” With a determined glint in his eyes, he finished chewing the mouthful and swallowed. His pallor took on a greenish cast. She laughed outright. “You hate it.” “No, of course not,” he insisted, eying the pastry like a battlefield he was ready to die on. “It is,” his throat bobbed, “delicious.” When he seemed about to take another bite, she quickly plucked it from his hand. “Stubborn fish. Give it back before you make yourself sick. It’s obvious you don’t like it.”
The minor characters were all fun to read about as well and were a great addition to the story. Especially Jurek was one I was really interesting in reading more about (that’s one of the reasons why I can’t wait to read book 2 haha!)
The writing and story-telling was also really great I think. The author’s writing had me hooked right from the very first page and as I said: when I was finished, I immediately wanted more! I was enthralled from beginning till end.
So, there are some cliches present and despite the plot being really fun and well developed, the plot is also a bit predictable at times. But did it trouble me? Not.at.all. The author put in some really fun Little Mermaid elements and gave them a twist. I absolutely loved the author’s view on this world and the way she gives her own voice to it all.
There really wasn’t a single moment in which I wasn’t enjoying this book. I’m having a hard time to really put into words how much I loved this and why. Basically every element in this book was right for me. From story-telling and plot to the characters and their development as well as the romance.
I love it when authors take the time to reach out to readers and as I said; I love reading new to me authors. When I got the opportunity to read this book, I just couldn’t pass up on this opportunity, because the promise of it all was so good. I am beyond excited that I can now say, after reading it, that the book lived up to its expectations and that I found a new author that I cannot wait to read more of. This is a book and author I HIGHLY RECOMMEND to read.
Thanks for reading!