Take a deep long whiff everybody. You know what that smell is?
Oh yes. It’s the delectable smell of Friday.
This Friday I want to talk about another book that might be worth a read. And today that book is The Midnight Sea.
This book centers around Nazafareen, girl from a nomadic tribe who pretty much feels like shit because her sister died and therefore she decides to take it upon herself to join the Water Dogs, who are pretty much soldiers that are bonded to demons, so that she get some good ol’ revenge.
The Bells And Whistles
- Greek, Persian references and settings. A lot of fantasy that I tend to pick up is usually heavily oriented toward more generalized European Middle Ages tropes and settings. So when I see something slightly more focused, my inner art historian starts having a field day. I liked the world building done here and the name drops.
- Magic and bonding. I liked that magic was not just poof you’re dead now. It has some rhyme and reason to it, and is dependent on your daeva partner. I also found it fascinating that daevas had to be maimed in some way for bonding.
- It raised questions. I love it when characters are forced to question the beliefs that they’ve had or have to reexamine their actions. Sure there’s nothing wrong with good characters believing the right thing, but I’m not fond of characters who waltz around farting their justice sparkles everywhere and have an uncanny inability to be wrong.
- Themes, Hype, and Symbolism. I picked this book up because it was praised endlessly for its “moral weight” and “meaty narrative”. When I read the damn thing, I went in expecting a story that would be as fat as a leg of lamb roast, but the actual result felt like a skinny shoulder chop with a lot of fat on it and barely any meat.
This is because when people start using buzz words like that, I start thinking “whoa, someone wrote a commercial/literary fantasy hybrid” (something that I’ve been dying to read and find more of). Now don’t get me wrong. Kat Ross tried, I felt like she sincerely tried to make some points about humanity and morality via the daevas and through the fable of the The Midnight Sea, but unfortunately it fell short to me. If there were symbols laying around, they were either a) not used enough or b) not used in a unified way that threaded the story together. It felt more like lots of shots were fired in the air at random and I had no idea where to focus.
- Nazafareen’s sister guilt. Remember the post from the other day about “Soft Overcoming Hard” and not shoving things down a reader’s throat? This is a perfect example of that being violated. I understand that when a person loses someone, they’ll grieve, be upset, think about it, and want to do something about it. But the thing is… in the story, it often felt like that Nazafareen’s guilt was used as designated cues to feel bad. And by this I mean Nazafareen sometimes thought about her sister at times when I wasn’t sure why she was doing so and I couldn’t identify what was motivated her to do it. But also it happened a little too often for comfort. I don’t like the idea of wanting a character to “just get over it”, but this was a case where I stopped feeling sorry for her and wanted her to pull up her protagonist pants instead of mope.
- Romance. I could buy that Nazafareen had feelings for her daeva because the story is in her POV, but it was hard to tell if her feelings were actually being returned.
- Gaps. I’m not usually an advocate of long flashbacks and backstory, but especially concerning some characters like Ilyas, I felt like I needed a little more to understand what was going on sometimes. I understand that the book is the first of its series, so I won’t bash too much, but still there needs to be enough information for the book to stand on its own.
Kat Ross can certainly tell a basic story. Characters were entertaining enough for me. She had good descriptions that I could learn from. A fascinating world I didn’t mind being in. I do agree that there is a little more to chew on than your standard junk food fantasy book, but I do not think that this “little more” lives up to its hype.
So for that reason, I have to give The Midnight Sea a 4 out of 5. I’d recommend reading it. And if I’m not mistaken, it is still currently free to read. So if you’ve been on the fence about it, or maybe you’ve seen it but didn’t feel like shelling out the cash, then by all means read it.