Book Review: THE CURSED SEA by Lauren DeStefano

Title in white to the left of a masted ship on a sea of glass
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: yes - second book of duology



Book cover for THE CURSED SEA: title in red before an image of a blue ship sailing on glass sea against a black background

Wilhemina Heidle, the exiled princess of Northern Arrod, the girl thought dead by her family and friends, must return home. The only way to save Loom, the cursed prince of the Southern Isles, is to revisit the castle and discover the origins of her own curse.

But home is very different from how she left it—Wil’s unstable elder brother is now king, leading a war against the Southern Isles. And the rest of her family must reckon with the truth of what happened to lead to Wil’s exile. With time running out, Wil must navigate the dangerous secrets within her family if she’s going to find the truth and save the boy she loves.

When she’s finally able to reach Pahn, nothing goes as planned, and suddenly Wil and her allies are fighting for their lives, again and again, as the Southern King is out to punish his children for all they’ve done. Traveling across cursed seas and treacherous kingdoms, Wil, Loom—and his ruthless sister Espel—have to work to make peace with their own struggles if they hope to secure the future of their kingdoms.

But when their plans lead them right back to evil marveler Pahn, and to Baren—who is more dangerous than ever—can Wil and her friends outsmart their enemies, this time, for good?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I got into this book more readily than I had the previous, as I was able to read it in a much shorter space of time. This meant I wasn’t trying to constantly recall what had happened, but could more readily get into the story and enjoy it.

There’s a lot that happens in the book, which helped me get through it much faster. At times, this is reflected in the chapter length – there’s several very short ones around the action-packed moments that brings the pacing up. It would feel like I knew where the plot was going, and then there’d be a revelation that would throw a new challenge in their way. A few “surprises” were predictable – a few were because they were well set up, while one was a little bit of an eye roll that Wil hadn’t worked it out before, considering things she’d planned.

The finale of Loom’s story line felt a little fast, as it had to be dealt with in a chapter. It’s very blink and you’ll miss it. I think it could have done with more time, to let it have the emotional weight it needed, as it ended up feeling very brushed under the rug to get back to Wil and finish.

However, I really liked the way the relationships in this book were tied up – they’re very complicated, messy families in this book, and that was respected all the way to the end. The main scheme gets carried through in a way that was satisfying not to give the crown to certain people because “reward”.

The romance in this book felt a little off. It is established in the previous book that Loom is married to Zay, though it’s a political marriage and they are friendly but have no sexual attraction to one another. However, they are still married and call each other husband and wife. Despite this, Loom and Wil get together. It was very tentative in the first book, but gets full on in this one, well before any possibility of Zay and Loom getting divorced is brought up.

Overall, it was an interesting series, but I might not return to it in a hurry.

Read my reviews of other books by Lauren DeStefano:

The Glass Spare (this series):


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