Debut author Pérez launches a lush fantasy trilogy about about warring countries, family secrets, and star-crossed lovers – and a young woman gifted with magical healing abilities that evolve beyond her control.
This first title in an anticipated trilogy is long on romance-novel contrivances and gore, but also hints at more profound territory. A cliff-hanger ending precedes a glossary and information on sources, literary transmission, and world building.
[Where] the whole love at first sight thing falls apart is that it’s usually based on physical attraction, and the relationship part where they get to know each other on a deeper level never really happens ... [which] makes it hard for me to buy into [the prtagonsits'] romance in the first place and therefore makes the inevitable obstacles less devastating. None of this is Pérez’s fault, of course. The original story offers only so much leeway ... Sweet Black Waves is a beautiful if overstuffed novel. Kristina Pérez’s writing is evocative and immersive. She pulls you into the medieval British Isles with lush, florid prose and surrounds you in a sweeping romance. Pérez deftly tightens the screws until it’s almost too much, forcing her characters into heartbreaking circumstances with no good options. It’s not a perfect novel, and not everything she attempts is successful, but on the whole it’s inventive and intriguing.
Pérez’s characters are complex, and the bond between Branwen and Essy comes across as authentic, although the tale’s romance doesn’t feel genuinely earned. The story’s mystical elements are confusing and awkwardly incorporated, which slows the pace and muddies the plot, but Pérez closes with a devastating cliff-hanger that will leave readers eager for a sequel.