Wednesday, March 13, 2019

ARC Review: The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst

The Deepest Blue
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Series: Tales of Renthia
Publication: Harper Voyager (March 19, 2019)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: The book returns to Renthia and lets us see the islands of Belene. Mayara is the main character. We first meet her on her wedding day when she will finally be married to Kelo whom she has loved all her life. However, their marriage is interrupted by a spirit storm that should have been caught by the Queen's Heirs. To save her people, Mayara uses her power over spirits which reveals a secret she's been hiding all her life.

Women with power have two choices. They can take the test to become an Heir or become one of the Silent Ones. Neither choice is a good one. The Silent Ones give up their names and families and even their voices. They are the Queen's enforcers who see through the eyes of spirits to watch. But becoming an Heir means surviving the Island of Testing and most don't.

When the Silent Ones capture Mayara, she is told the Kelo is dead. She had promised him to become a Silent One and live. With him gone, she chooses to take the test for Heir. She is the last of the current group of twelve and, so, receives little training before being dumped on an island overflowing with vengeful, murderous spirits. She made a couple of friends on the way to the island including Roe who has her own reason for taking the test and surviving.

She and Roe do manage to find a buried cave system which keeps them out of the spirits' way but they soon find out that spirits aren't the only danger on the island. It was believed that all twelve of the previous cohort had died on the island but they encounter Lania who is the lone survivor and who is determined to kill all of the current cohort. She believes that the test will be abandoned if no one survives and no new Heirs are made.

Meanwhile, we find out that the Queen, who happens to be Roe's mother, is not in command. She is being held be the Families who rule the islands who are insuring her behavior by taking all of her family away and hiding them. Luckily, the Queen has the help of Garnah, a sociopathic poisoner, to make some changes in they way things are done. All Mayara wants is a simple life surrounded by those she loves but she needs to face great dangers from both the spirits and the ruling Families before she can have the live she wants.

Favorite Quote:
Roe hissed as more medicine hit her wound but didn't flinch away. "What ... happened?"

"You fainted."

"Impossible, I never faint."

"You briefly lost consciousness because of incredible pain," Mayara clarified. She kept squeezing the angel seaweed over the wound, washing out the grit and soaking the cut in medicine at the same time. She then pressed the hunk of seaweed directly onto the gash. "Hold that there."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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