I know Rebecca F Kenney as a talented cover artist whose premade covers I often find hard to resist, so, when I saw that she had a new book to be released, I had no hesitation in pre-ordering it.
This book can be described as a genderbent Little Mermaid with a twist. A giant twist. The merman who seeks escape from his watery home is Rake, a breeder in the Mermaid Kingdom where males are either food or breeders. Rake is often abused by the three queens, and longs for escape from the cruel underwater world which is no more than a prison. When the queens let him raise Jewel, one of his spawns, Rake decides that he cannot be a passive spectator in his life anymore, if only for the sake of his son. He has often visited a monster in the deep he calls the Horror, and for the sake of Jewel, he is ready to enter into a desperate alliance with the creature.
The other PoV chracter is Kestra, who lives in Kiken Island which is suffering due to the expanding Mermaid population. The mermaids are fierce predators who eats everything including each other. They have been spawning recklessly, and the ocean around her island home is choked by merlows, the lowest form of mermaids who are very similar to piranhas in their feeding habits. Fifteen years ago, an accident caused Kestra’s father to fall in the ocean, to be devoured in seconds by the merlows. The overabundant merlow population around the island has suffocated trade, and the only ship to ever come to Kiken Island is Wind’s Favour whose young captain, Flay, is Kestra’s lover. When Kestra’s cousin, Mai, proposes a way to get rid of the mermaids for good, Kestra is only too eager to recruit Flay for the mission.
The Teeth in the Tide is rich in detail, and the world building is simply superb. The story is well written, and the reader is transported to the world of Kiken Island and the underwater Kingdom. The rich underwater world is described vividly, and the descriptions of the bleak land of Kiken island slowly being choked by the predatory merlows is evocative. The sailors’ oaths, “by torrent and tide” “by thorn and tide,” “by the teeth in the tide,” and so on. The words the islanders speak at the time of witnessing deaths, “Eyes be salt and body be sand, but soul be the breeze that flies to the land.” all add to the details of the world.
The characters from Rake and Kestra to Flay and Mai and Jewel, and even the brutal queens and the underwater Horror are brought to life with depth and compassion. Rake’s experiences and his abuse are not glossed over, but the author has dealt with it with a deft and kind touch. The book is dark, and described as such, but it is also tempered by the sympathetic portrayal of the characters. Kestra’s anger and grief and the casual cruelty with which she handles it are also described with understanding and compassion.
The plot is intriguing, and kept me hooked from the very first line. There was a point in the book, where I DM’ed the author to ask how everything ends because I was getting so much anxiety for the characters’ fates. The book ends both in a cliffhanger, and with a resolution. Rake’s fate remains uncertain, and the others are left scarred, and not just emotionally.
I rated this book Five Stars in amazon as well as goodreads.
I have already pre-ordered the sequel and am looking forward to reading it as soon as it is released.
The cover designed by the author herself is beautiful and hard to pass by.
The Kindle edition of the sequel, The Demons in the Deep can be pre-ordered here