The Dark Tide

Sourcebooks/Fire. Jun. 2020. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781728209982.
Gr 9 Up–Lina Kirk and her brother, Finley, live in Caldella, an island city in danger of being swallowed by the rising inky tide waters. Every year the queen chooses an islander boy to sacrifice to keep the waters calm for another year. This year’s sacrifice is crucial because the previous year, Queen Eva’s sister sacrificed herself to save the boy she loved. When Lina’s brother disappears, it can only mean that he has been chosen to avenge the death and save the island. Lina shoulders several burdens: convincing the queen that the madness of annual sacrifice must stop, confronting evil, and acknowledging her growing attraction to the queen. Determined characters and seductive prose are among the strengths of this novel. Jasinska voices the protagonist, her allies, and all shape-shifting villains throughout so sympathetically that readers will not be able to predict any outcome. Cinematic descriptions right out of an epic movie script, such as Lina’s dance with a deadly sea serpent, are as gripping as the sparse moments of melancholy: “No more boys given to the sea. No more glorifying death and striking bloody bargains with the tide.” A number of romantic relationships are hinted at, but the plot’s primary focus is the individual’s struggle for power over death.
VERDICT A dark scenic adventure, sensitively written for romantics, Jasinska’s debut novel is a fantasy of promises, betrayal, unrequited love, and black magic.

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