ARC REVIEW: The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

Title: The Dark Tide
Author: Alicia Jasinska
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: June 2nd, 2020
Page count: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo

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 the 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 Thomas expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Agaisnt 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: each other, or the island city relying on them both.

The Dark Tide is a spooky, magical and atmospheric book about two very opposite girls that fight hard to get what they want, all while trying to fight the feelings slowly growning within them, that might put their plans upside down. The summary is pretty self-explanatory, so I’d skip telling you what the plot is. Better than that, let’s start with the characters.

This is a dual-pov story where we get inside the minds of Lina and Eva, the main characters. Lina is a naïve and passionate girl that loves too deeply and would do whatever it takes to protect her loved ones, even when that means sacrifices herself and not making the smartest decisions. Eva is a closed-off and cold girl that has suffered a lot at her young age, she doesn’t understand how romantic love works and only cares about her own interests. They’re both determined to get what they want, both as the pages go by the lines of who’s the enemy and who’s the ally get blurry, and they start to understand that they might benefit of working together.

“What was it like, kissing a witch? Someone so powerful they could slay sea monsters with string and strands of their hair?”

I guess we could say that while Lina is fire, Eva is ice. And oh, they balanced each other perfectly. I had such a good time seeing how they slowly discovered what they felt for each other, trying to understand it, and get confused for it. I think the author developed their romance in a very realistic, complex and unique way. Eva and Lina have an amazing chemistry and their differences makes them perfect for each other, and I loved how the author balanced their interactions with the plot of the story and what was happening at the moment. The romance wasn’t too much, neither too little. However, I highly appreciate that the characters stick to their original plans despite the feelings they had for one another, and nothing was sacrificed in sake of the romance.

I want to make a special mention of Eva’s character development. It was a whole experience reading her chapters, she’s a very complex character and you can’t put a “bad” or “good” label in her, she’s somewhere in between and the author executed that perfectly. I think the following quote is the perfect example of what I’m trying to say.

“Deep down, they were alike, both cold and selfish creatures. Both people who would do anything: lie, pretend, sacrifice anyone to ensure their own survival. It was why she hated him with such a passion, because she knew she would have done exactly as he had, had their roles been reversed.”

The plot couldn’t been more original. It’s very important that you know this: the enemy of this story is not a human, it is the sea. The tradition of giving to the dark tide someone the Witch Queen loves so it doesn’t drown the island is a very original concept, and a great element for the story to revolve around of. The fact that the characters aren’t fighting against an equal, but something as big as the sea itself, blew me away, and makes the reader even more invested in the story and how can the character possibly defeat the enemy.

It’s also important to mention the spooky vibes I got from this book. The atmosphere is perfect for Halloween season or reading it during the night, it’s not a scary book, but the author’s descriptions of the Water Palace and just the island in general trascend the pages and absorbs you into the narrative. I found this to be one of the strongest elements of this book, and despite being an island that might disappear under the water at any moment, I found myself wanting to be there and discover its eerie places.

“You didn’t give up simply because you failed at first. You tried again. And again. And again. You kept at it, through the setbacks and the bad days, never giving up, because defeat was unacceptable.”

There’s only two things that made me give four stars of this book instead of fight. The first one is that, despite the plot being so original and intriguing, the events were a little rushed and I just wanted more, but I didn’t have it. This might be because it’s just the first book in the series, and I definitely have high expectations with its sequel, but I can’t help but think that making the book a little longer would’ve had a positive impact on plot and character development.

And the second one is exactly that: the characters. While we had the time to understand and love Lina and Eva’s characters, I can’t say the same for the rest of them, and I would’ve like a little more scenes dedicated to develop the secondary characters in order to understand better the role they were playing in the story and why was really important to have them being a part of it.

To sum it up, I really enjoyed this book. Is one of the best dark-themed books I’ve read in the year, and the high expectatives I had with it were fulfilled. I recommend this book to everyone that might like books with complex, morally gray characters, an unique plot and setting, action-packed battle scenes and strong sibling bonds.

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Alicia Jasinska is a fantasy writer hailing from Sydney, Australia. A library technician by day, she spends her nights writing and hanging upside down from the trapeze and aerial hoop. THE DARK TIDE is her debut novel.

Do you want to read this book? What are your favorite dark-themed fantasy books? Let’s talk in the comments!

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19 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska”

  1. ooh this sounds so interesting! I saw it on Goodreads a couple times and loved the cover but after reading your thoughts I’m definitely going to try and pick it up! I love the dark atmospheric setting you’re describing – ahh getting chills just thinking about it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. your review was amazing!! I’m definitely adding this book to my TBR. I always appreciate a well-thought out romance and I’ve been DYING to read a f/f romance too!

    Liked by 1 person

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