(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Imprint on June 5th 2018
Genres: Adaptations, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Young Adult Fiction
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.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez. The cover is amazing, and the summary told me everything I needed to know. There’s magic and a forbidden relationship…sounds perfect to me. It is inspired by the story of Tristan and Iseult and focuses on the main character, Branwen. No spoilers here…I promise.
I love a story where I can feel a connection with the characters and Sweet Black Waves did this for me. There were so many great characters in this book and I really liked the main character, Branwen. She is the niece to the King and Queen of Iveriu and cousin / lady’s maid to Princess Eseult (Essy). The death of Branwen’s parents has definitely shaped and influenced her throughout the years and while she still grieves them, their deaths have made her strong. Branwen’s main motivator is always to protect the people she loves as well as bring peace to Iveriu and when a strange man washes up on the shore, she makes the choice to save him, which is the beginning of a story that had me turning the pages to see what was going to happen next.
The man who washes up on the shore happens to be Tristan, the nephew to the King of Kernyv. Of course, Branwen doesn’t know who he is, she only knows he is one of the raiders that continue to attack them and despite that, she does everything she can to heal him. Tristan is one of those characters that I just couldn’t help but love. He is a risk taker and even though he didn’t know for sure who Branwen was when he left, he had an idea. And like Branwen, he wants peace between Iveriu and Kernyv. His plan is to win the tournament to align them with the marriage of his uncle and Essy. He also loves Branwen so having them in Kernyv is definitely a good thing for him. I loved how Perez built the relationship between Tristan and Branwen. Starting out as enemies and slowly building a level of trust and ultimately more – It was because of that, the last few chapters killed me.
Of course, the story doesn’t just involve Branwen and Tristan. There are so many characters but I especially loved Branwen’s relationship with Queen Eseult. Not only is she teaching her the ways of the Old Ones and her magic, she is also very much her mother figure throughout. When Essy can’t see past her problems and blames her mother, Branwen is usually the one to jump in and try to make peace between them. And as the story builds around Essy’s potential marriage, things get even more complicated. I first have to say, Essy drove me nuts. Yes, I get it. She didn’t get to have a choice in who she married but she was so angry and took it out on everyone around her. She also came across as somewhat selfish. I don’t doubt that she loved Branwen, but her decisions revolved mostly around what she wanted without thinking about any consequences.
Outside of the characters, the writing is done in such a way that I was pulled completely into this book. Perez has developed a beautiful and dangerous world these characters live in and when you add in the magical aspect, it was even more interesting.
I can’t really say too much more about the details of the book without potentially ruining any part of the story and I don’t want to do that to anyone. Just know that this book has some great characters, a wonderful story, and so much swoon and heartbreak. I’m not kidding – the ending of this book ripped my heart out and even though I could feel it coming, it still hurt. Despite that, I think everyone should read this lovely and amazing book. I’ll just sit over here waiting for the next book in this series so I can find out what happens next. Make sure you get this on your TBR and pick it up when you can.
Thank you to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.