BBNYA Finalist: Beneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela Deen

BBNYA Finalist: Beneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela DeenBeneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela Deen

Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 386

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. 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.

Thank you to The Write Reads and the author for a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. This review is part of the BBNYA winner tour.

Once I learned this book existed, it’s been on my wishlist. The blurb intrigued me and I’ve been interested in more Nordic folklore and mythology for a while now.

Leonel is an interesting character. He’s the last merman, spawned from a union between his godly mother and a merman. He’s also the guardian of the sea, or the Fathoms, as the gods call it. He breaks the rules when he saved Isuara and that’s just the beginning. His arc is heartwarming but also sad, in a way. Isaura’s is almost the opposite. When we meet her, she’s newly divorced, cast aside because she couldn’t bear children. She also changes after she arrives in Eisland, but because of love, understanding and acceptance. They grow together and help each other, which makes the ending satisfying even though the overall plot still has loose ends.

The writing style gives Leonel an older voice compared to Isaura. Hers is filled with feeling while Leonel’s is filled with obligation and more formal language. That made it harder to read for me and slowed me down quite a lot. That’s a personal issue because of past injuries. It’s great to give each point of view character a unique voice and I think the voices suit the characters. so it’s 100% me. I just wanted to mention it to show why I’m not giving this book five stars.

I give Beneath Cruel Fathoms four stars. An enjoyable read with great worldbuilding and characters. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes merfolk stories or want a fantasy set in a different place than Western Europe or any Anglosaxon country.

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