review: the dark tide by alicia jasinska

“The Witch Queen comes on wings of night.
The Witch Queen has your heart’s delight.
Hold him, hold him, hold on tight.
Hide him, hide him, out of sight.”

The Dark Tide, Alicia Jasinska

Every year on St. Walpurga’s Eve, Caldella’s Witch Queen lures a boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking.

Lina Kirk is convinced her brother is going to be taken this year. To save him, she enlists the help of Thomas Lin, the boy she secretly loves, and the only person to ever escape from the palace. But they draw the queen’s attention, and Thomas is chosen as the sacrifice.

Queen Eva watched her sister die to save the boy she loved. Now as queen, she won’t make the same mistake. She’s willing to sacrifice anyone if it means saving herself and her city.

When Lina offers herself to the queen in exchange for Thomas’s freedom, the two girls await the full moon together. But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other. As water floods Caldella’s streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice, they must choose who to save: themselves, each other, or the island city relying on them both


rep: wlw relationships, lesbian mc, bisexual mc

cw: death by drowning, magic involving self-harm

The Dark Tide
Alicia Jasinska
Sourcebooks Fire
336 pages

The Dark Tide is a dark fairy tale full of witches, curses, and boys in distress. It is not like your average sapphic romance, for the girls play dirty and bite back: this is a dark, chaotic women-love-women story, and I’m so here for it.

Queen Eva reigns over the island of Caldella since her sister sacrificed herself to the dark tide in place of the boy she loved. Every year, the Witch Queen has to offer to the sea the person she loves, shed tears for them, to save the island from drowning. But Eva, unlike her sister, is heartless, selfish. She loves no one. She didn’t care for her last sacrifice, and thus the Tide hasn’t been satisfied, drowning more and more the island since then. This year, she needs to make her magic works, or the island her sister loved so much is forever lost. This year, the boy who led her sister to her death is at her mercy. This year, she meets the sweet, selfless, brave (some might say stupid) Lina Kirk.
And maybe, this year, she has a chance to win over the tide. For queens bow to no one, not even the sea.

This seems like a good book, and it is. Except that I wasn’t really invested in the story for the first two-thirds of the book.
The story is split into two viewpoints: Lina’s for the most part, and Eva’s. At first, I felt like I was reading about superficial characters, one-layer characters. Lina was only interested in Thomas Lin’s pretty eyes and her broken ankle, as Eva was just a brooding, shadowy figure. I swear, as the story went one, I was ready to strangle Lina Kirk myself if she kept talking about how much she loved that stupid boy — a boy we barely saw, and who was not showing much interest in Lina.
It was easier to like Eva. The broody queen who loves no one. Her sassy comebacks had me snort several times through the book. She felt like she had a past and a future, and that they were consequences to all that. As for Lina, even if she often tells about her broken ankle, I felt like she was some character the author just dropped there as I opened the book. Yes, she had a past, a family, a crush, but aside from a broken ankle and a desire to dive into danger headfirst, what are the consequences of her past on her present life? It was difficult for me to really connect with her.

But it got better. As the story unfolded, I started to care (about the story, about the characters, about the consequences). Lina started to learn more about herself, about what she wanted, and thus she became interesting. Still, I’d wish it wasn’t such a fast-paced book, and that the author took the time to really develop her characters, their romance, and the world-building. Caldella’s story and magic-system seem so interesting! Give me more of that! Less Thomas, more Witch Queens! And if the plot wasn’t unfolding so fast, I might have fear more for the characters. There wasn’t any real danger, or at least I felt like there wasn’t, because it all happened so fast. I didn’t have the time to fear, to wonder. The Dark Tide deserved a few more pages for it to be really spectacular.

Note : 3.5 sur 5.

So yes, it was an enjoyable story to read, but I wish I had more to read. I really hope the next book(s) will give me what I’m craving.
You’ll like this book if you’re into fairy tales, dark stories, innovating world-building. It’s worth reading.

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