A gripping, dark LGBT YA fantasy about two girls who must choose between saving themselves, each other, or their sinking island. Every year on St. Walpurga's Eve, Caldella's Witch Queen lures a boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking. Lina Kirk is convinced her brother is going to be taken this year. To save him, she enlists the help of Thomas Lin, the boy she secretly loves, and the only person to ever escape from the palace. But they draw the queen's attention, and Thomas is chosen as the sacrifice. Queen Eva watched her sister die to save the boy she loved. Now as queen, she won't make the same mistake. She's willing to sacrifice anyone if it means saving herself and her city. When Lina offers herself to the queen in exchange for Thomas's freedom, the two girls await the full moon together. But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other as water floods Caldella's streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice.
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This sacrifice of one to save the many seems as though it may be worth it, but the people do fear that their loved one should be chosen. Thomas Lin, on whom Lina has a crush, was taken a few years ago, but instead of being sacrificed, the witch took his place. This year, when Eva spots him among the revelry, she chooses him to again be the sacrifice.
As Thomas only came with Lina to help her find her brother, she feels responsible and since she loves him, she storms the castle to save him. Instead, she enters into another bargain to give her life for his. Lina will be sacrifice this year.
What I loved: This book is absolutely enchanting, from the darkness of the ocean that demands blood, the mystery of the witches who use pieces of themselves to cast magic, and the all-consuming romance that Lina so desperately craves. This book is one that begs to be read in a single sitting, and it kept me up at night doing just that. The pacing is really perfect, moving quickly through the story and filling in just the right amount of background information to allow the reader to understand this world and its dark magic.
I also love the idea of witch takes boy, girl who loves boy goes to save him, and falls in love with witch instead. The plot and the world are really fantastic. Although at first the witches seem like villains, we learn more later that this is some people's perception and not the truth. The lines between good and bad are blurred, and this theme is explored softly in the book.
What left me wanting more: The only thing I wish this book had more of was the build up of the relationship between Eva and Lina, that they had more time and scenes together to build a full romance.
Final verdict: Haunting, enchanting, and atmospheric, THE DARK TIDE is a beautiful YA fantasy read that I highly recommend.