ARC Book Review: “Between the Sea and Stars” by Chantal Gadoury

“We’re a sorrowful species. Worse still, when we let ourselves believe we are suffering alone.”

between the sea and starsA Legend,
A Magical Shell
A Girl Who Dreamed Of Something More…

Lena, a Merrow girl, lives in the Skagerrak sea with her father, Carrick and her brother, Javelin who tells her of the legend of the Merrow Queen murdered by her human lover when greed takes over. But what’s worth spilling the queen’s blood? Gifted from Poseidon, himself, a magic shell gives any human the ability to control both land and sea.

When Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land.

With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner.

Trying her best to hide who she is and remain safe from the dangers of the human world, will Lena finally find where she belongs, or will she be swept into a strong and stormy current by lust, greed, and jealousy?

Goodreads | Amazon

Expected publication: June 19th 2018 by The Parliament House

(WARNING: SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD!)

I’m the type of reviewer who avoids comparing books as much as possible because there are different kinds of good books. However, it would be remiss of me if I don’t point out the improvement of Chantal’s writing since “Allerleirauh”. I enjoyed that book too, but I found the characters in “Between the Sea and Stars” more intriguing and lovable. The storytelling also flowed more smoothly for me. Combined with the enchanting imagery, it’s no wonder I had a hard time putting the book down once I started it.

Lena’s an adorable, sweet, and feisty character with an insatiable curiosity and a never-ending sense of wonder. Even better, she’s not a special snowflake. She also messed up big time. She didn’t always stand up to her bullies. When she turned into a human, she even took a while to get used to moving around with her legs. It took even longer for her to trust her human allies. See, that’s another reason why I enjoyed this novel. Even though there were romantic elements, this book’s main focus was Lena’s journey as a character and her relationships with the people around her. The way siblings Lena and Javelin teased, encouraged, and protected each other warmed my heart. Lena’s father-daughter bond with Edwin Wyatt was also one of the highlights of this book for me, because there was nothing contrived about it and their scenes together were pure joy.

One of the things I hate seeing the most in fiction is loss for the sake of shock factor and/or plot advancement, and this novel had no loss like that, which earned plus points in my book. Chantal’s an author who NEVER glosses over emotional trauma. For most of the book, Lena was trying her best to be brave, strong, and smart as she tried to recover from the heartbreaking losses she suffered. She had trust issues. She had trouble acknowledging her worth and getting past her feelings of guilt, so even though she’s a fighter, there were times she didn’t fight back. The point I’m getting at is this – by NOT glossing over the emotional trauma Lenna suffered, the author got me to sympathize with Lena more during her weaker moments. More plus points from me.

As for Lena’s friendship/budding romance with Soren Emil, I thought it was sweet and lovely, but I hope that the friendship between them would be developed more in the next book. I think they’re a great match, but I need to see more layers in their relationship. I’d also like to see more flaws in Soren Emil because even though I liked him at first meeting, he’d be even more likable if he had character flaws to struggle with just like Lena. (After all, a tragic past doesn’t count as a character flaw.) With all that said, I am still eyeing Soren Emil as a potential favorite character in this series. I’m expecting great things from you, man. Please don’t disappoint me.

I also wish to see more well-written females in the next installments. We have too many males in this book. Check out this annoying trifecta: Asger’s an interesting character, but too much of an overbearing alpha. Jace was an overgrown brat with a giant sense of self-entitlement. Jarl’s just…Ugh. Don’t even get me started on that sick, perverted creep. Anyway, I would really love to see an awesome female friendship – even an awesome female villain – in the next books. Better yet, give that old merrow woman and Mrs. Wyatt bigger roles to play, because God knows we don’t have enough major older female characters in fiction.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you finish this book in one sitting. As I already mentioned at the beginning of this review, the settings of the book were really captivating, so that’s the first thing that drew me in. And then there’s just something magical about Chantal’s writing that made me turn page after page before finally snapping out of my trance and then going: “Oh, wow, it’s over already?!” Now that I think about it, perhaps a big part of the reason why the storytelling flowed so smoothly was because I never felt the author tried too hard to impress her readers. She did not try to overwhelm us with info dump, foreign terms, and whatnot. She kept things simple, and that made it easier to get absorbed in her tale.

To conclude, I really liked this book and I’m already looking forward to the next installment of this series.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ and 3/4 (3.75) stars

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