A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.
An adventure set at the sea, with magic and romance, and the danger of warring kingdoms – sounds like the perfect mix for an exciting story. And that was, in simple words, what In Deeper Waters was. Set in a kingdom by the sea, journeying through the waters, and the towns near the banks, IDW follows Tal, a young prince on his coming-of-age tour, as he finds himself in the midst of a rouge kidnapping.
Tal is the youngest, and also the one with magic coursing through his veins. It is his deepest secret, one that could plunge his kingdom into war. So, he is kept hidden behind the palace walls, secured. On his coming-of-age tour in the sea with his brother, Tal finds new adventure and dilemma when a mysterious prisoner Athlen jumps into the ocean to escape, and the young prince is kidnapped.
It took some time for Tal to grow on me, to be honest. I found him like any other YA character – confused, conflicted, in a dilemma, always feeling like the second best, not being good enough. That one naïve, innocent person who is very oblivious to the hurt of others but is the good one because they feel emotions unlike their predecessors etc. That type of character, you know. I’ve seen and read about this same character arc again and again, and hence, it took time for me to get to like Tal and actually feel for him. I did, and then in the last 10% of the book, I went back to square one. He wasn’t the best main character, to be honest, but he was adorable. There were moments with him that I very much enjoyed.
On the other hand, Athlen was a character that I always had my doubts on. I couldn’t completely trust him, solely because of the stunts he pulled on Tal right from the beginning. He seemed good (also has secrets, haha) and had a good growth by the end, but he wasn’t specifically my favorite in the book. What I also didn’t seem to enjoy much was the insta-love between the two. It was very quick, too fast, just after the first meet. Didn’t even get to have enough conversations to get to know each other. Which is something that I don’t really enjoy in books now, you see. Insta-love doesn’t do the deed for me anymore.
This brings me to the romance part of the book. While it is a fantasy, romance takes up almost eighty percent of the book, as well as love. And I say it as two different things because they are. The romance between Athlen and Tal was – if I may – almost too cliché at some points. As I stated, it was too quick to actually grasp at either’s actual emotions for each other. At some points though, it was so soft that I couldn’t help but swoon and root for the two.
Now, about love – it played such a huge role in the book. Tal’s love for his people and his family, his siblings was immensely beautiful to read about. Usually you see so much sibling rivalry in books, but here in IDW, there was nothing but love and respect in the family. No extra secrets and betrayal and plots for overtaking the other. That was so refreshing to read about – family supporting each other. Loving each other.
In similar lines, the world building was very smooth and vividly portrayed through the pages. I loved the world that the author created – kingdoms and politics, families and myths. And magic. Magic wasn’t the primary element in the worlds, but it still played a significant part in the plot. I would’ve loved to see more of the magic in the story, to be honest. To see it in more stance and see Tal use it more.
My biggest complaint with this book is one in the end – it was so rushed. That, and the fact that the romance between Athlen and Tal was churned out to appear like starstruck lovers – oh so tragic – thingy. Not gonna lie, the end kind of reminded me of Patroclus and Achilles haha. It was cute and adorable and if I was maybe younger, I would’ve cried. But now, I could only roll my eyes at the stupidity of ‘love’ that drove Tal. It was – a bit too much for me.
Anyhow, despite this, I enjoyed reading In Deeper Waters a lot. It was adventurous and full of action, warmth and love. I loved the relationships between the siblings and the growth. The character developments were amazing, especially Tal’s. We start the book with him being scared and timid and under a shadow but by the end, he takes control and pride in his powers, and stands tall. And don’t we love to see it!
Overall, In Deeper Waters is a very fun and enjoyable read, quick and fast paced enough to keep you engaged. If you had recently read Fable, and want more sea adventures, then this is a book for you!
Thanks to Turn the Pages for having me on the book tour and giving me a chance to read this book!
Some favorite and beautiful quotes from the book:
He was no longer powerless and weak. He was in control.
“You’re still a prince. You’re still worth more than my life will ever be.”
“That’s not true. Everyone is of worth.”
“You look like a prince.”
“I’m not a prince.”
“But you’re the favorite of a certain prince.”
“I know that we’re both the last, and we’ve felt alone. But we can be alone together.”
“I don’t want to be on land without you.”
In Deeper Waters | About the book
TITLE: In Deeper Waters
AUTHOR: F.T. Lukens
PUBLISHER: Margaret K. McElderry Books
RELEASE DATE: April 20th, 2021
GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION—Historical, Fantasy, Romance
• • •
Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.
Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.
That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…
• • •
F. T. Lukens | About the author
F.T. Lukens is the author of four young adult novels published through Interlude Press, and her book Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic was a 2017 Cybils Award finalist in YA Speculative Fiction, won the ForeWord INDIES Book of the Year Gold Award for YA Fiction, and the Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction, and it was also recently named to ALA’s 2019 Rainbow List. F.T. lives in North Carolina with her husband, three kids, three dogs, and three cats.
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