Curious Tides

S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry. (The Drowned Gods Duology: Bk. 1). Oct. 2023. 544p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781665939270.
Gr 9 Up–At Aldryn College for Lunar Magics, students train to use the magic they are born with. Emory, born under a new moon, is a healer mourning the loss of her best friend Romie, whose brother Baz holds the volatile and dangerous magic of those born under an eclipse. On the night of Romie’s death, Emory followed her to a secretive meeting in the off-limits caves below the school and awoke the only survivor of a mysterious ritual. As Emory’s powers begin to change in a way that should not be possible and could get her locked away, she seeks Baz’s help. Baz agrees to keep Emory’s secret and help her to control her power, but fears how far she’ll go to solve the mystery of Romie’s death. The first book in this planned duology establishes a rich magical world complete with secret societies, ancient myths, and cultural taboos. Baz and Emory are sympathetic leads, but the story drags under the weight of exposition. Numerous secondary characters seem to bleed together, especially because their motives are often boiled down to romantic jealousy or superstitious prejudice.
VERDICT A good choice for teen fans of dramatic romantasy, but readers looking for excitement and action will be disappointed.

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