Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez
From Goodreads: Not you without me, not me without you.
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.
When I found out Kristina Perez was one of the authors at YALC this year, I thought it would be a good idea to check out her writing. There’s been so many times where I’ve missed really good authors, especially new ones, because I didn’t take any time to see if I like their writing or not. This year, I decided to really do my research. So that’s how I heard about Sweet Black Waves a book which retells the famous star-crossed story of Tristan and Isolde. I’ve never actually heard the legend before, so I wasn’t sure what I was in for,
The story is told from the POV of Branwen, cousin to Eseult and her maidservant. She’s a healer, and she spends A LOT of time being nice to everyone and fixing everyone’s damn problems and even early on in the book I was like, I just want someone to give this girl a medal and a hug for doing so much for everyone. She was a very well developed character, and I appreciated how much time Perez took in fleshing out what might be considered a side-character in the original legend, as it added an interesting depth to the story.
I have to admit, the story didn’t grab me much at first. My boyfriend scoffed a bit at the cover and said it looked ‘very YA’ [which is apparently code for super cheesy] because of the tagline. I have to admit, he had a point. There’s a lot of instalove going on in this book and a lot of tragedy and it just didn’t hook me straight away because of that. I did find myself doing a lot of groaning and eye-rolling when we first meet Tristan and the whole Keane thing was so predictable and unnecessary. The magic also didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and I found myself just sort of hoping for those sections to be over quickly so I could get back on solid ground.
However, at some point it did end up hooking me. I guess because I was curious to see where everything was going, especially since the book is written from the point of view of Branwen. I cheated a little bit and ended up googling the Tristan and Isolde legend before the end of the book, but I definitely flew through the story after my initial misgivings. There’s a whole heaping plateful of drama packed into Sweet Black Waves and a good side portion of angst and tension, which I am a very big fan of, and no doubt I will be ready for seconds when the next book in the series rolls around.
Overall, I’m giving Sweet Black Waves a 7/10 stars. I loved the characters and the drama, and the fact that it’s a retelling I haven’t seen before, but I was a bit put off by the cheesiness of the instalove and the opening chapters.
Has anyone read this book already or is planning to read it? Let me know in the comment section. As ever, I love reading everyone’s thoughts on books I’ve read!
Enjoyed this review? Thinking about picking up the book yourself? If you want to purchase a copy of Sweet Black Waves for yourself you can do so through Waterstones here, Amazon UK here, or through my Book Depository affiliation link here.