Dark Tide by Jennifer Donnelly
Book Three of the Waterfire Saga
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Once a lost and confused princess, Serafina is now a confident leader of the Black Fin Resistance (BFR). While she works on sabotaging her enemy and enlisting allies for battle, her friends face challenges of their own. Ling is in the hold of Rafe Mfeme's giant trawler, on her way to a prison camp. Becca meets up with Astrid and learns why the Ondalinian mermaid is always so angry: she is hiding a shameful secret. Ava can't return home, because death riders await her arrival. And it is getting more and more difficult for Mahdi, Serafina's betrothed, to keep up the ruse that he is in love with Lucia Volerno. If Lucia's parents become suspicious, his life--and all of Sera's hopes--will be extinguished. Political intrigue, dangerous liaisons, and spine-tingling suspense swirl like a maelstrom in this penultimate book in the WaterFire saga.
What I Liked:
Ahh, this series is so great! It's pretty rare that I'll invest myself willingly in a series longer than three books (even trilogies are such a commitment), but I'm glad I took the leap with this one. There are a decent number of YA books dealing with mermaids, but this series is probably my favorite! Deep Blue and Rogue Wave were fantastic, and this novel is as well.
The six mermaids have been split up - Serafina is leading the Black Finn Resistance, and Neela is with her. Astrid has long left the group behind, but Becca finds her, and the two of them travel together. Ling has been captured and is on a trawler, where she faces imprisonment and something far worse. Ava is MIA, but safe for the moment. The six girls must work together, despite being apart, to try and claim the last four talismans before Vallerio, Rafe, and darker powers destroy the ocean and unleash Abbadon.
What gets me about this series is the setting! The books take place undersea, in the deep oceans. Ling is on a trawler boat for most of this book, but the other girls are in deep waters, fighting to stay alive. It's so great how Donnelly comes up with such rich scenery and imagery, to write this series in the ocean! I absolutely love the setting of the book, and how well Donnelly constructs and details it, novel after novel, sea after sea.
Serafina is still my favorite of the six girls. She has grown the most, becoming very strong and very willful. She is more of a leader than she ever was, and has really stepped up in becoming the leader of a resistance force, finding allies, trying to communicate with the other girls. Sera has so much to lose - including Mahdi - but she never gives up. I like how fearless she has become, even though we can see her fears and insecurities.
Neela isn't as present in this book. She's with Sera for the duration of the book, helping with the resistance. She's there, but I often forgot about her. Same with Ava - she is there, and she is looking for a specific talisman, but her role in this particular book is not huge.
Ling, Astrid, and Becca are highly important in this novel, like Sera. Those four are the leading four protagonists, and we get to read from each of their perspectives from time to time. You'd think it would get confusing or annoying, but Donnelly does a really great job of keeping things organized, and moving the story along with whichever perspective was next. We got to experience each of the girls' stories from when they were apart, as well as when they get back together.
Ling goes through horrible obstacles on the trawler boat, and it broke my heart to see her suffer so much! But she learns some important information about one of the talismans, as well as about something in her past that she'd let go of.
Astrid has a terrible secret that Becca finds out while they are together. When Becca and Astrid separate, Astrid goes back to her home up North, and Becca starts to look for another talisman. Becca meets some important friends, and Astrid frees someone that will change her life.
The story is so intriguing, and very engaging! It's not slow at all, even with so many perspectives. There is so much action, politics, scheming, betrayal, even romance for the ladies! There is so much going on, and so many great secondary characters too.
Sera and Mahdi performed a Binding earlier in the series, but Mahdi has to pretend that he is in love with Lucia, who has taken over as regina (Lucia is Sera's cousin). Becca meets someone unexpected along the way, as does Astrid. Astrid is prickly and a grouch, but she meets someone that is perfect for her. I want to see where Becca's romance goes especially!
I'm trying to be as vague as possible with this book, as it is a third book of four. But the mermaids are concerned with finding the talisman before Rafe Mfeme does, so that he will not be able to unleash Abbadon. There is another book in the series, so I won't say anything really about the ending. It ends on an okay but eye-opening note (not quite a cliffhanger), and I can't wait to read book four!
What I Did Not Like:
There were a few things that struck me as cliche and/or overused. I can't say specifically about some things because that would be spoiler-y! But one example would be a very similar aspect that appeared in Harry Potter - how Voldemort's name and Tom Riddle's name were anagrams of each other. Yeah, something like that is in this book, and it's too bad, because the first thing I thought of was Harry Potter. There were others but again, no spoilers! Overall, I'm very pleased with this book.
Would I Recommend It:
If you've read Deep Blue and Rogue Wave (or even just Deep Blue), keep going with the series! It's four books total, so there is one more (Sea Spell). This is great fantasy, a gorgeous and high-action spin on mermaids and magic and life deep in the ocean. People who love political intrigue and court life and kings/queens/hot emperors/strong princesses and girl power and awesome fantasy will love this series!
4 stars. I've equally enjoyed every novel in this series so far! The covers are stunning, and the story from book to book is lovely as well. Things are going to get even crazier in the final novel, and I can't wait to read it!
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