Blog Tour Book Review: BENEATH CRUEL FATHOMS by Anela Deen

I received a review copy as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Blog tour graphic with title on gold next to image of book with border of waves as
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - first in trilogy

Synopsis:

Book cover for BENEATH CRUEL FATHOMS: title in white on navy with graphic of waves looming

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

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I really enjoyed this Scandinavian-inspired watery story. It’s about family and fighting for a place, about magic used for ill and good, all wrapped up in a mystery with some romantic elements too. I was sort of expecting a book that was mostly romance with the threat and mystery in the background, but it’s actually the other way around – which is definitely the way my tastes align.

There is both an intimacy and scope to story. It is mostly centred around a few characters in a small set of locations, but the threat and extend of the plans and antagonists they are up against spool out far beyond their region.

The writing is very engaging, painting the world vividly – the scars left by old wars of the gods and how it had massively reshaped the landscape and power. There are also both human societal dynamics and underwater ones that are easily understandable but very complex, adding to the richness of the world.

Isaura has fertility difficulties. It’s not explicitly mentioned in the book that it’s PCOs (it would very much have stretched my belief if they could work out that it was that with their technology levels) but the author’s note explains implies that is at least based on her experience with it.

Having gone through the PCOs diagnosis myself, it is a really big, emotional one – even if you’re not at the stage where you’re thinking about having children. It can also have other health consequences. I loved seeing it in a book, talking the stigma and burden that can be placed on you when you face infertility. And seeing Isaura come to break the lies she’d internalised about her worth being tied into that was so brilliant.

The ending hints that the next book in the trilogy will follow supporting characters as they find themselves drawn into the next stage of the conflict. I hope it releases soon.

3 thoughts on “Blog Tour Book Review: BENEATH CRUEL FATHOMS by Anela Deen

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