Published: April 2018.
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / romance / retelling
Triggers/Content Advisory: Infrequent, strong sexual content.
Source: Thank you so much to the author for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
I buddy-read this book with the wonderful Di from Book Reviews By Di. We were both so excited to start reading because we've enjoyed Hamm's other novels in the past. Please do check out Di's review HERE!
Emma Hamm's words are poetry dipped in magic. Her writing is so lyrical, so dreamlike, that for most of this book I felt like I was in an actual, classic fairytale - submerged body and soul. I think her writing is truly, effortlessly gorgeous, and I think it's improved so much since her debut novel. The only aspect of the writing that I found disappointing is the dialogue; it's too expository. That's a let-down.
But ah, the story is so beautifully atmospheric! Like I said above, you feel as if you're in an actual fairytale. It's like you've been dropped into a world where Once Upon A Time meets Pirates of the Carribean. I love the setting, and I love how we see so much it from a pirate's perspective with the focus on the sea and treasure and taverns, etc. It's everything that makes a good old pirate story irresistible.
The plot is underwhelming. It's very slow, and despite the excellent sense of foreboding that never lets up, the story feels wasted. Not a lot happens, and the scenes often feel like fillers till the big climax happens. It is a character driven book, though, which does explain that a bit, but still. I wanted more to happen.
The characters are vivid. I definitely got a sense of who they were, but I wish we could've seen more of them. I wanted them to have more depth - especially Manus. I would've liked to have seen some of his past or had him tell that story to Saiorse, or for her to tell him more about her life under the sea, and maybe they could've each had some quirks or hobbies or something, too. Just something extra to boost their dimension.
I don't love the romance. Personally, I didn't feel any chemistry between Manus and Saoirse. Their love never felt realistic to me. I wasn't convinced. And honestly, I would've preferred the book to have ended differently, which I think would've stayed truer to their characters (I can't say more cos of spoilers...)
I also don't like how Maas-y the sex scenes are. There's too many words like "claimed", " devoured", etc etc, which isn't something I find particularly swoony.
Bride of the Sea is a gorgeously written book with a rich setting and dreamlike atmosphere. But the plot is uninspired, and the romance isn't arresting