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. 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…
In Deeper WatersFeatured
Things begin to go awry pretty quickly, when they find a boy chained to a damaged boat with a huge chest of gold. This boy, Athlen, intrigues Tal pretty quickly, but when he sets him free, he runs into the sea. Tal is upset, but they must keep going into town. However, before long, Tal has had his life threatened and been kidnapped. As he tries to figure out who is behind it and how to escape, Tal must also consider how he wants to live his life when the dust settles.
What I loved: This was an action-packed and fast-paced read, and I appreciated the quick speed. Although there are a lot of intense and serious things going on, Tal manages to be hopeful and keep the tone of the book from getting too dark. I found the world-building really intriguing with some hints of THE LITTLE MERMAID plots, plus the politics of the area built by history. The romance was really great, and I loved the way it built and was tried by circumstance.
The characters were really intriguing here, and I appreciate the view on siblings through Tal's brothers and sisters with the emphasis on the love of family. Tal is somewhat naive, having been sheltered in the castle for most of his life, but he still manages to have deep insights and hope for the world around him. Athlen is awkward, endearing, and absolutely charming. Together, their chemistry was great.
There were some interesting themes about being true to yourself, embracing yourself wholly, loving deeply, the power of hope, politics, and forgiveness. This was a book and world that I would love to continue reading about, but I did appreciate that this book had a complete ending and could be a stand-alone. The writing and plot would be well-suited to a range of YA readers, including those on the younger side while also enjoyable for older YA readers.
Final verdict: A charming YA fantasy, IN DEEPER WATERS is an intriguing, fast-paced, and hopeful read that I would highly recommend for fans of Tamora Pierce and Amy Rose Capetta.