Book Reviews

Review: “Dark Tide,” Jennifer Donnelly

July 4, 2016
Review: “Dark Tide,” Jennifer DonnellyDark Tideby Jennifer Donnelly
Series: Waterfire Saga #3
Published by Disney Hyperion on October, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Mermaids / Selkies
Pages: 320
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

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. 

Dark Tide was in a word – ‘lovely’. With a bit of apprehension, I went into the third book of The Waterfire Saga, thinking that maybe – just maybe – the second book’s amazingness had been a fluke. I was so glad to discover I was wrong. Dark Tide keeps a great momentum going, this time with a heavy focus placed on Astrid, Becca and Ling.

 “A good warrior knows when to lose a battle so she can live to fight the war.”

Deep Blue felt a little overstuffed with characters – but Rogue Wave cut them down and instead decided to single out Sera and Neela, helping us to get to know them better (and we did). Dark Tide keeps Sera’s POV chapters, but adds chapters from three of the other merls on the quest to find the talismans. We get to know Ling and Becca a bit more, and a heavy emphasis is placed on Astrid, too. Neela is pretty much out of the equation this time around, but that’s okay, because she was so solidly a part of Rogue Wave. While some may lament that we didn’t get to see much of Ava, I’m not worried at all because Jennifer Donnelly has so expertly managed to balance these characters so well in the three books we have so far.

In the previous two books, Ling hade more pagetime than say, Astrid or Becca. She was already a likeable character, but having some heavy POV chapters from her this time around was fantastic. She’s also the cover mermaid in Dark Tide, which was exciting. Her trials aboard the trawler and consequently in the prison camp were dark yet fascinating, as well as her quest to find Sycorax’s puzzle ball. We also learn a bit more about Ling’s family and her history, and it’s a nice surprise when we learn about the true fate of her father.

Becca has been pretty much a background character so far, so I was extremely pleased when she stepped into the foreground a little more in Dark Tide. There’s a lot more to Becca than we realise, and it was great to get to know her. She’s smart and compassionate, and I especially loved her time with Astrid and also her crafty plan to get hold of her talisman (quite possibly my favourite part of the book!). The only thing I didn’t like about Becca’s story was the surprising case of ‘instalove’. Although I adored her interlude with Marco and his sister and what that meant for the story, I didn’t appreciate how hard and fast Becca and Marco fell for one another.

Astrid is also another interesting personality. While she hasn’t been my favourite of the girls, she certainly rose higher this time around. I’m still a bit on the fence on whether she’ll be strong enough to resist Orfeo, but I’m loving her storyline thus far. Her pairing up with Des was great, as was her companionship with her mother’s orca. It was absolutely fascinating to learn more about Ondalina, too.

 “Astrid was about to set off on a new current, the current that Vrăja had ordained. She knew it would be hard. She knew it would be frightening. And only the gods knew where it would lead.”

Can you tell that I’m absolutely rapt by this series at the moment? I have such a soft spot for it and the world in which Jennifer Donnelly has created. I can just sit back and marvel at the lush descriptions of the kingdoms and the food, and how everything is so well thought out. Each venture for a talisman is thrilling and unique, with each character starkly different and bringing her own fire to the battle. Each time I pick up the book again it feels like coming home – it’s comfortable and it feels as if it’s something special. I absolutely do not want it to end.

This series is sometimes marketed for younger readers, but apart from the quick, vanilla romance aspects, I can’t see why. I’m usually one to shy away from books for younger audiences (I can pick them out in a second of reading them) so I can safely say that if you’re worried about a watered down, simple plot or a series that hasn’t got some seriously solid world-building, don’t be. The Waterfire Saga is exquisitely crafted and one that is, above all, fun.

About Jennifer Donnelly

Jennifer Donnelly grew up in New York State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester where she majored in English Literature and European History. Jennifer lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband, daughter, and three rescue dogs.

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