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Secrets of Itlantis #1

Of Sea and Stone

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All her life, clever Aemi has been a slave in the Village of the Rocks, a place where the sea and sky meet. She’s heard the stories about the fabled People of the Sea, a people who possess unimaginable technology who live below the waves in the dark, secret places of the ocean. But she never dreamed those stories were true.

When a ship emerges from the ocean and men burn her village, Aemi is captured, and enslaved below the waves in Itlantis, a world filled with ancient cities of glass and metal, floating gardens, and wondrous devices that seem to work magic. To make matters worse, her village nemesis, the stuck-up mayor’s son Nol, was captured with her, and they are made servants in the same household beneath the sea.

Desperate to be free, Aemi plots her escape, even going so far as to work with Nol. But the sea holds more secrets than she realizes, and escape might not be as simple as leaving...

260 pages

First published February 1, 2014

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About the author

Kate Avery Ellison

49 books872 followers
I've been making up stories since I was five years old, and now I'm thrilled to be able to do it as a full-time job. I have an obsession with dark fantasy, dystopian futures, and Pride and Prejudice-style love stories full of witty banter and sizzling, unspoken feelings. When I'm not writing, I'm creating digital art, reading funny blogs, or watching my favorite shows (which include TVD and BSG). I live with my geeky husband and our two bad cats in Atlanta, GA.

Click here to read the first chapter of THE CURSE GIRL!

Click here to read the first chapter of FROST!

Attention Book Bloggers ~ If you are interested in interviewing me or reviewing one of my books, send me a message. I'd love to hear from you! (Please note: I am currently not able to fulfill most requests for print copies at this time, but you can always ask. However, I am ALWAYS able and happy to provide e-copies or PDFs of my books in exchange for an honest review.)

If you're wondering why I categorize books as "breathless," "cake," or "amnesia," check out this blog post!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 90 reviews
Profile Image for Danielle's.
Author 1 book139 followers
February 17, 2018
Of sea and stone is the first book in a series of five. It tells the story of Aemi. She is a slave with ambition. To help a friend she breaks all the rules. She wins a spear throwing competition and earns herself punishment. To escape she finds herself getting kidnapped and taken to Itlantis. She dreams of being free and finding Perilous, a place her mother used to tell her about but to find her dream she has to work with Nol. The pair have never got along. The end of this book will leave you wanting more.

Calm before the storm. A creative world and a rollercoaster twist. 4 stars out of 5.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review via Hidden Gems.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,375 reviews1,103 followers
May 1, 2018
This story took me by surprise. While it sounded quite interesting and I thought I would enjoy it, I am shocked at how much I enjoyed it. I devoured this book! Both times I've read it. I did not want to stop! I love it when a story consumes me the way this one did.

Aemi grew up in a village by the sea. She is what they call a Thrall. A slave by any other name. When the village is attacked she is taken captive and placed, once again as a slave, onto the care of a scholar and his household. With her is Nol, a boy who was the mayor's son and a rival of hers. She is determined to escape but that is not going to be easy...

The place she is taken to is in the sea. These people live underwater! This took the book to a whole new level of imagination. While I liked the imagery we were given, I really wish the author had elaborated a bit more on some parts. I felt the world had the potential to be very rich but more time was spent on story and character instead.

Yet I loved the story so that compensates for some of the disappointment. The pace is fast. But not so fast it is hard to follow. It is a riveting tale!

I loved the characters! Aemi is strong and smart and has a great personality. Nol is the enigma through the story, adding a whole new level of mystery. And Lissia, her master's daughter, is fantastic! I love her quirky interests of lock-picking and clock dismantling! Each character, no matter how small, has a vibrant personality and stands out on their own. I was most impressed by this.

There are a lot of surprises in this story and I am extremely eager of the next book (especially after the ending it gives). There are two characters I need answers on and hope to get them. This has intrigue, some mystery, a bit of adventure and a light dash of romance. It is a very clean read that even advanced middle graders can enjoy. But this book is also wonderful for adults (such as myself)! Great story! I can't wait to read more by Kate Avery Ellison!

*I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.*
Profile Image for BookLoversLife.
1,801 reviews9 followers
February 15, 2015
This was not what I expected, in a very, very, good way! For some reason I expected mermaids!!

Aemi is a slave in the Village of Rocks. She dreams of being free. Her mother used to tell her stories of where she came from and Aemi vowed to one day see it. She has heard the stories of the people who live underwater but always thought they were just that, stories. So when her village is attacked and Aemi is captured, along with all the men, she is terrified. Everyone is split up and Aemi ends up sent to the same place as Nol, her nemesis. She is again a slave but this time she has the means and motive to plot her escape. But escape isn't as easy as she thought!

I fell in love with the authors first series and had to try this one. Well I'm so glad I did because she has managed to create another amazing world. Everything about Itlantis was fascinating. The different realms and history were captivating. The author can really pull you in to her writing and make you apart of the world she has created.

Character wise, I really liked all of them but Aemi and Nol were my favourite. Aemi is strong, determined and not afraid to take a chance and Nol started out as a typical spoiled rich kid but I ended up really liking him. He grew a lot during the story.

Plot wise, Of Sea and Stone was relatively fast paced. I loved the idea of a whole civilization residing below the water with no knowledge of what it's like to live above. The unique realms and history behind them were fascinating as was the places themselves. Being book 1 in the series though, we are left with a lot of unanswered questions so I'm hoping we find them out in future books.

Anyway, overall Of Sea and Stone was a captivating read. From it's unique and creative world to it's enchanting setting, Of Sea and Stone is a must read. It has captured my interest and I can not wait to see what happens next! Kate Avery Ellison is fast becoming one of my favourite authors because she has created some amazing worlds and she continues to impress me with each book.
Profile Image for Kirsty (Amethyst Bookwyrm).
629 reviews72 followers
June 30, 2016
This and my other reviews can be found at Amethyst Bookwyrm

Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for giving me this book to review.

Aemi is a thrall in the Village of the Rocks, and has been for as long as she can remember. She dreams of travelling to Perilous, her mother’s home before her mother became a thrall and died. Aemi’s life changes forever when a ship emerges from the ocean, her village is burnt and she, along with some of the young men of the village, are taken to Itlantis, a world under the ocean made of glass cities. Aemi and her nemesis from the village, Nol, are made servants in a friendly household in the city of Celestrus, and are told not to tell anyone that they are from the surface or else they will be killed. Desperate to be free, Aemi plots to escape to the surface, but as she becomes friends with some people under the sea and the secrets and conspiracies of Itlantis, escaping is not as simple as she first thought it would be.

Of Sea and Stone is a very good fantasy novel and I found it hard to put down. It is fast paced, has a hint of romance, and action, it is also not as predictable as I thought it would be.

I liked Aemi as she was smart, resilient and struggles with her loyalties between her life on the surface and the people she has become friends with in Celestrus. Nol is an interesting character and I could never tell what he was thinking. I also liked the characters of Lyssia and Merclus and how they slowly became like a family to Aemi, and I hope we get to see more of Kit as I feel like he has a big part to play.

I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next one, By Sun and Saltwater. I would recommend Of Sea and Stone to fans of Stolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensen and Witch Fall by Amber Argyle.
Profile Image for Elaine.
3,222 reviews97 followers
November 9, 2015
I was offered the opportunity to read this novel and I have to say that it was so much better than I initially assumed! It is well written, action packed, full of surprises and totally enthralling - I really want to read the sequel to is asap! I read it in a day, not wanting to put it down if at all possible till I reached the end.

Aemi is a thrall, a slave girl, who grew up in the Village of Rocks, a small community nestled by the sea. As she grew up her mother told her of the amazing place she grew up, intriguing Aemi and making her dream of actually going there. Aemi is feisty, bright, resilient, prepared to work hard and practice in order to get better and be the best. She’s also not phased by gender expectations - being the best at accurately spear throwing, even though only males are supposed to do this, is just one example of this. When her village is attacked, she is kidnapped along with Nol and other boys from their village, together they are taken to a mysterious city under the sea . . . . You’ll have to read it yourself to find out what happens next!

The story is full of unexpected twists and turns, a real page turner. It could easily be read and enjoyed by more able middle grade/key stage two readers as well as teens and adults. It is a great story and, as I said before, I really want to read the sequel!

Thanks to the author, publisher and YA Bound Book Tours, tooYA Bounk Tour Button, for letting me read an ARC of this book in exchange for this, an honest review.
Profile Image for Katherine Paschal.
2,124 reviews55 followers
February 12, 2018
Aemi is a Thrall, just another word for a servant- but she dreams of being free and works hard to one day be able to buy her way out of her situation. After entering a competition in the place of her good friend, she gets into trouble, making her more of a pariah than normal. With the intent of laying low, she is shocked to be awakened in the middle of the night by intruders who take her and all the young men of her village as prisoners. She finds herself a captive of the fabled Itlanteans, the people said to live beneath the sea. But she refuses to accept her fate, and instead plans away to return home, no matter the cost.

I am a sucker for anything having to do with the idea of Atlantis, the mythological and very controversial lost city that legend says was lost forever to the sea, so when I stumbled across a book that dealt with ships coming out of the sea it was a guarantee that I was going to read this story. I did not realize that this was the first in a five book series, but on the plus side, all five books are already out so you can binge-read the series (which is just about the best way to read a series!) Oh and ps, all the books in the series have as gorgeous covers as this first book does, which is always a bonus when discovering a new series to get lost in!

I will admit that I kept waiting for the moment that romance became the focus of the story but I was actually pleasantly surprised to be wrong. I feel like recently ever YA story has a romance thrown into it, regardless of it helping move the plot forward, just because romance appeals (don't get me wrong, I am always a sucker for romance in my stories, but an awkward forced romance is something nobody needs!). This story dealt more on politics and intrigue, the dynamics of the world and the potential for war taking center stage for the plot. Relationships do exist in this story, but they are friendship and loyalty based, where people fight for someone because it is the right thing, and not because a romance caused their action. It was refreshing. And that is not to say that I would not enjoy a potential love in the next book... Just saying.

This was a very short fast read, at only about 170ish pages, so it is a great book to pick up when you are looking for a fast escapism read. Yet in those short amount of pages, Kate was able to create a whole underwater world full of unique devices that were so detailed and interesting that they came alive before my eyes- textured maps, gardens with different climates, oh and yeah an entire underwater society and ships that dive down to it. I have read multiple books by Kate now, all so different from each other, but I think that so far this one was my favorite. I look forward to what comes next for Aemi (oh by the way, huge twisty bombshell dropped right at the end of the book!) and from Kate.

Follow the blog tour for Of Sea and Stone here: https://smadasbooksmack.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Erin Ballance.
50 reviews7 followers
February 25, 2018
I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review. I enjoyed this book which is the first in a series of 5 (I believe). I was immediately taken with the characters and the world building was beautifully done. The plot has several different parts to it which kept the story moving and exciting. The characters slowy evolve as they question their own feelings, motives, & futures. The action really starts to build towards the end and the ending had me scrambling to find the next book in the series! There are 5 books in this series, & although I’m not sure if I will finish this series anytime soon (because my TBR is so long), I need to know what happens to these characters!
Profile Image for Kelly Gunderman.
Author 2 books77 followers
October 30, 2015
Check out this and other reviews on my blog, Here's to Happy Endings!

I feel the need to start of by saying I don't typically enjoy books in a series. Sometimes I have a difficult time keeping up with a standalone novel to the end, let alone want to keep reading about the same story line over the span of several books. This book is a great exception from that, and if anything, it made me excited to continue with the other books in the series.

Of Sea and Stone was such a wonderfully written fantasy story, lyrical and beautifully crafted; a definite treat to those who enjoy fantasy novels. Not to mention the unique and well designed cover which is absolutely stunning. Even the main character's name - Aemi - is beautiful.

Aemi lives in the Village of the Rocks, and she is a thrall, or a servant. Her mother, also a thrall, had passed away, but not before telling Aemi of the beautiful cities under the water - the legends of Itlantis, where the people live happily under the sea. Of course no one believes the tales are true, and Aemi continues to serve out her duties and be looked down upon by the family she serves.

One evening, everything changes. There is a raid in her village, and many are killed. Some of the males are taken in a ship, including the mayor's son Nol, who she never really got along with. Aemi is also kidnapped, and held prisoner in the ship - also the only female who had been taken.

When Nol and Aemi finally get off the ship, it is an experience that most have only dreamed of - they are in the city of Itlantis - under the water. Angry at being kidnapped and having seen her village being burned, scared about what was going to happen next, and yet a tad bit intrigued about the fact that Itlantis is actually real, Aemi immediately begins to try and formulate a plan to get away and back to her village. She becomes a servant to her new family in Itlantis, and while she sees Nol, he doesn't seem to want to be her friend, even though they have both been dealt an unfortunate hand. Eventually this begins to change, and Aemi and Nol have to try and work together to formulate a plan to leave Itlantis and get back to their village to see if any of their people are still alive. However, there are quite a few twists (which I won't go into, because they make the book even better) that interfere and make it difficult to plan their escape.

The world building in this book is absolutely magnificent. You can tell that Kate Avery Ellison put a lot of thought and work into this book, and creating the settings, and it makes for a wonderful reading experience. It's been a long time since I've read a fantasy novel that has drawn me in with its impressive world building, character development, and plot. Everything just works in this book, and I loved every second of reading it! While I wish it had been a bit longer (and wow, that was some cliffhanger at the end), I find comfort in knowing there are few more books that will keep the story going.

I'll definitely need to be getting the rest of the books in this series, and soon. I think I might have found one of my new favorite series!

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Saruuh Kelsey.
Author 21 books83 followers
March 26, 2015
((2.5 stars))

I am SO annoyed by that ending. Because it was good?! And the rest of the book wasn't, really.

There were a lot of things I didn't like about Of Sea and Stone. For the first 20% of the book, I was just waiting for something to happen. A bunch of the stuff that happened didn't feel relevant (spear throwing contest, for example.) The world was fine - I kinda liked the first one (Village of the Rocks) with it being literally hewn from huge rocks, but I couldn't tell in places whether it was above or underwater. I wasn't fussed on the second, underwater, setting, because really it felt like a normal (maybe European) city stuck underwater. The garden globe things were pretty cool, though, (and I really wish the entire city had been underwater globes - that would have been original!)

I didn't liked the characters either, unfortunately. Aemi is fine - she's neither good, nor bad - but from the beginning it just did not feel like she'd been a slave her whole life. It felt like, from her thoughts and spoken words and reactions (especially these) that she was a normal, free girl. When she made mistakes, she got a brief bout of nerves then shrugged it off. It just didn't feel like her character fit her situation. But I did like her in parts, so maybe in the next book she'll grow on me. Nol I hated in the beginning, and got frustrated with in the middle. He hates Aemi for no reason, is a total dick, and then does a complete 360 spin and is "friendly" to her. Fine, great, character development! Except we're never told why he has this change of heart. We're never given even the briefest glimpse into why he hated her to start with, whether he resented her for something, or envied her for being an only child when he was the youngest, expendable child, or whether he wanted to be friends but didn't know how. None of this is explained and his character suffered for it.

What I DID like was the life saving underwater kiss. That was, despite my borderline dislike of both characters, actually really sweet. And Nol giving Aemi all his air even found a way to tug at my heart. I LOVED the ending. The drama and desperation and then the plot twist, which I didn't see coming. I'm gonna have to read the next book, even though I didn't enjoy a good portion of this, because I have to see where the story goes. And that ending bumped my rating up a good half star.

An alright story if you overlook a bunch of things, with a hella cool ending.
Profile Image for Tonja Drecker.
Author 3 books174 followers
February 15, 2018
Fast paced and packed with unexpected twists the whole way through, this is a tale which grabs and doesn't let go the whole way through.

Aemi is a slave in a village, which is built into the rocks along the ocean. One night, a ship rises out of the water, attacks the village and she, along with many men, is taken prisoner. Soon, her execution is ordered, but one of the attackers smuggles her off of the ship and takes her to work as an indentured servant for a wealthy man in an underwater city, which she thought only existed in myths. Her only goal is to escape, but fate isn't on her side.

This is the first book in a series and what an exciting start it is! Aemi is kind-hearted, tough in her own way, and, yet, vulnerable. It was easy to like her from the very first page and cheer for her the entire way through. Although the story starts with a simple and busy life as a slave in a small village, the world building and pacing quickly picks-up on complexity. The simple village clashes with a more modern under-sea life, which holds slight similarities with our modern world.

As soon as Aemi settles into a situation, another harsh twists comes her way. She is constantly facing new hurdles and problems. It's hard to guess what is coming next, and each new situation and trouble adds to an increasingly layered plot. Even the palette of characters is constantly changing, but the author still gives each one enough individuality and personality to keep them from coming across superficial or unnecessary. It's a rich world, and it's only the beginning, promising so much more to come in the rest of the series. After reading this first adventure, I can't wait to get my hands on the next book and see what happens to Aemi and her friends next.

I received a complimentary copy and enjoyed this tale so much that I wanted to leave my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for Julie.
275 reviews53 followers
May 9, 2015
For more reviews, visit Books and Insomnia .
*I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review for the book tour.* 

To be honest, I didn't know what to expect from Of Sea and Stone because I've never heard of this book before I signed up for this tour. While I must admit that what drew me to this book in the first place was the cover, I also thought the blurb seemed promising so I signed up for a review copy. And boy, I'm just so glad I did.

Of Sea and Stone is an impressive story set in a fantasy underwater world. It follows Aemi, a slave in the Village of the Rocks, who suddenly finds herself in the mercy of Itlanteans, the sea people – stuff of legends no one but a crazy old man believes. Wrenched from the only home she’s ever known and trapped in a city deep under the ocean, Aemi struggles to find a way to escape and find her mother’s home. With just an old nemesis to help her, she uses her wit and cleverness to explore the secrets of the deep. If only escape is that simple . . .

I definitely enjoyed reading Of Sea and Stone. It has the right amount of drama, mystery, humor, romance and intrigue that hooked me until the very last page and left me wanting for more. I practically devoured this book. I actually read it twice because it’s that good! The start is a bit slow, but it gets better. The writing is generally smooth, although there are bits of inconsistencies here and there. I didn’t mind those minor lapses that much because I was engrossed. Some aspects I’d like to emphasize are the following: 

Strong heroine. I liked Aemi. She’s smart and determined. She’s feisty, but she knows when to show her tough side and when to shut up and observe from the sidelines. And when she sets her mind on a goal, she does everything to achieve it. It’s also easy to sympathize with Aemi. Being a slave all her life, she only had one friend: Kit. So when she met Tob, Mella and Lyssia and eventually formed friendship with them, she was confused and unfamiliar with the notion that someone could actually care for and be friends with her. There’s not much description on her so I couldn’t really picture what Aemi looked like, but the character development was impressive. It was interesting to follow Aemi’s transition from a futureless slave to a more confident and assertive person.

Dynamic side characters. What is a story without the colorful secondary characters to complement the hero/heroine? Aside from Aemi, one character that also went through a remarkable character development was Nol. From a cocky mayor’s son, Nol became an angry and reluctantly submissive slave then emerged as a savior. Tob provided the comic relief. He’s hilarious and straightforward and his cooking ideas were outrageously funny. Lyssia – I loved this girl. She’s genuinely kind and treated Aemi as a friend from the moment they met. Like Aemi, Lyssia never had many friends so it’s not really a surprise that she immediately sought friendship from Aemi. I admired her for being a friend to Aemi in spite of the latter’s Indentured status.

Superb world-building. The world of Itlantis is excellently created. The imagery is so vivid that it’s really astonishing to visualize the beauty of Celestrus and the other cities. The author successfully captured the mysterious and ethereal appeal of an underwater world. The history of Itlantis would make for an interesting back story too, with the Cataclysm and all. I would very much like to know more about how the Itlanteans came to live under the sea.

THAT TWIST! While not really that unpredictable, that revelation about Aemi’s identity definitely stepped up the game. It changed a lot of things, including how Aemi would proceed with her plans, and made the story more exciting.

Of Sea and Stone is an astounding and enjoyable fantasy novel. I’ll definitely pick up the rest of the series to follow Aemi’s journey across Itlantis. A must-read for fans of the fantasy genre!
Purchase this book from: Amazon | The Book Depository
Profile Image for Michelle .
1,990 reviews222 followers
February 9, 2015
**You can see this full review and more at Book Briefs: http://bookbriefs.net** 

My Thoughts Of Sea and Stone is the first book in the young adult fantasy/magic series called Secrets of Itlantis. I love the covers of this series. They have a very Josephine Angeleini Starcrossed series feel to them. Four books in the Secrets of Itlantis series have already been released and each of the book covers is done in a different color scheme, which I love. They go really well together, and if you are new to the series like I am, you will be able to enjoy them one right after another. (I am not sure yet if the series is complete or if there will be more than 4 books.) The Secrets of Itlantis is a Young Adult fantasy twist on the tale of Atlantis, and I have to say, I love what Kate Avery Ellison did with the underwater city. It all felt very magical and fantastical, and it is something that I would love to see made into a movie.

The characters in the story are wonderfully rich and complex. Aemi is a slave girl in her town, the Village of the Rocks. We only get to see her there for a little while before she is stolen away to under water and to Itlantis, but in that short time, we get a glimpse at just how awful it is to be a slave above the ocean. Now, I don't think anyone is under a delusion that it would be glamorous to be a slave, but I really felt for her, because Aemi is a spunky girl and I could feel that spunk being suppressed right out of her. She was also an indentured in Itlantis, but here they didn't have slavery. People became indenture's to work off their crimes. Still not a perfect system, but it seemed better than above the water. One of the things I loved most about Kate Avery Ellison's writing in this novel was that she made it feel sophisticated. She didn't dumb things down. She made distinctions between similar terms like slave and indentured, but she made it all very accessible to young adults. Her writing felt very smart and clean. That alone makes me want to go out and buy more of her books.

Plot-wise Of Sea and Stone was a very inventive read. We got a ton of backstory and information on the set up of the cities that comprised the world of Itlantis. But it was never given in an information dump way. Some of it was disclosed in the visual descriptions of the cities some of it through Aemi's lessons from her awesome "owner"-turned-teacher, and some of it was divulged through Aemi's inquisitive nature and her many questions. Aemi is super resourceful and I loved that most of all about her. She is nice, but she is also shrewd, tough as nails, and a problem solver. I want to be friends with this girl. I love her as a main heroine.

The twists and turns kept me engaged in the story the whole time, and I felt like I flew through reading this book. I can't wait to see what is going to happen next. the ending of Sea and Stone kind of left all the readers in a lurch. I still have some questions. I felt like a few times, Kate Avery Ellison would take us 98% of the way there with a new twist or development, and I would still have something lingering as to that last 2%. Some question or what if. But I have a feeling those couple of things will be addressed in the next book. And speaking of the next book, bring it on please! I want to read it right now.

 This review was originally posted on Book Briefs
Profile Image for Jennifer (Bad Bird Reads).
710 reviews182 followers
February 12, 2015
http://badbirdreads.com/review-sea-st... At A Glance
A really interesting story and world.
The Good
If you are looking for some rich world-building, you have found it. I felt so immersed in the world in Of Sea and Stone. And the concept is unique. Sure, it is similar to the whole Atlantis thing, but it's done in a totally distinctive way. The imagery was amazing. I could picture the underwater city and all its glory.

Aemi was a very strong, likable, spunky character. She has been a slave all her life, but she doesn't let that get her down. She fights for herself, and she fights for her friends. She completely assimilates to her surroundings and situations flawlessly. But she always has escape in mind. She has someone she cares about back home and she is determined to get to him no matter what. Even if her life underwater is better than her life on land.

The story covers a lot of topics: bullying, war, corruption, friendship, and family. It was just a beautiful contrast of good and evil. The plot flowed well and pacing felt right. The secondary characters blew my mind. I loved and hated them so much. The ending has a little twist and I kinda guessed it but was still surprised by how much it will change things for Aemi. The second book is going to kick ass, I just know it.
The Bad
I don't think I will ever like Nol. I saw his true self before he was turned into a slave and he was a spoiled, rude, mean child. I don't care if he got humbled (which he really didn't), it doesn't change who he is deep down. He is entitled and he will always feel that way. So making Nol a love interest to Aemi did nothing for me.
The Snuggly
Since Nol does nothing but irritate me, him and Aemi together in any capacity pissed me off. Thank God there is very little romance in Of Sea and Stone. Very, very little.
Final Thoughts
I am for sure reading the next book of the series. It's just getting interesting. I loved reading about Aemi's journey and watching her fight for what's right. Very recommended.

"Don't do that," he said angrily

"Do what?"

"Lick their boots. Beg them for answers. Don't act like a thrall."

"I am a thrall," I said, angry now too. "And now you are too."

He turned away and curled into a ball.

I shut my eyes and slept. It was the only thing to do anymore.


Then we was exhaling into me, filling my lungs with his air, giving me life to keep going. His thumb stroked my cheek, his lips broke away, and he shoved me upward with every ounce of strength left in his arms.

I reached for him, but our fingers slipped apart.


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Profile Image for Nada Sobhi.
Author 3 books207 followers
February 10, 2015
Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison is the launch pad and first instalment in the Secrets of Itlantis series. Told in the first person from Aemi’s perspective, the novel opens in the Village of the Rocks. However, it soon moves to the Cities of Itlantis, built beneath the water, after our heroine is kidnapped along with others from her village.

Aemi is a ‘thrall’, a fancy word for slave, so was her mother. However, Aemi has been collecting as much money as she could in order to buy her freedom and go to a place her mother told her tales about; a place called Perilous. Kidnapped, Aemi goes to Itlantis, where she becomes an Indentured, a person serving a sentence in order to pay debt. This is a means to hide both her identity and Nol’s, the only person left with her from her village and a person she constantly dislikes.

Of Sea and Stone is quick-paced, although the final five or six chapters move at torpedo-speed.

Aemi’s character is an interesting one; she is quick, intelligent, capable of plotting and overall likeable. However, she is often paranoid, which is both useful as it makes her observant but often annoying. Once in Itlantis, she constantly tries to find a means to escape and go back to the surface. However, as time passes and she gets closer to the family she serves, she feels a pang whenever she thinks of her escape plans and that she would never see Lyssia, her mistress and friend, again.

“Nevertheless, something lingered in my chest, heavy like sadness. Leaving this house would require its own kind of grieving, one that made little sense to me but that was undeniable. A captive caring for her captors.”

We see Aemi’s character develop from hard-headed to kind and loving, especially as she becomes acquainted with new feelings and terms like ‘friends’. Since the novel is narrated from her perspective, her emotions are very clear and beautifully written.

At one point she says: “I was a pit of shadows, an ocean of unshed tears.”

Nol, too, is an interesting character. The novel opens with him as the mayor’s second son, who is smug, haughty and obnoxious. But as events progress and he is thrust in Itlantis, he realises many things and captivity changes him. His character gradually changes, showing signs of clear and quick thinking, a good understanding of politics and a caring heart.

Of Sea and Stone is rich with likeable characters. I also liked the names given to the Itlantean cities, and how the name reflects the general theme or focus of the city: Celestrus, Primus, Verdus, Arctus, Magmus and Volcanus.
Ellison’s word choice and imagery throughout the novel is beautiful and nicely-fitted to the sea and its imagery.

I had been wondering about the connection of the title “Of Sea and Stone” and the novel itself; I didn’t quite figure it out for myself but it came at the end and kept me thinking.

Given the chance and time, I would definitely look forward to see more of Aemi and her adventures, particularly as the novel ends at a climactic point.

Of Sea and Stone is a clean young-adult novel, and I truly liked that and that there was not much - if any - romance in the novel.

Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Note: I received a free copy in return for an honest review by Xpresso Book Tours and as part of a Blog Tour.
Profile Image for Rachel (The Rest Is Still Unwritten).
1,601 reviews203 followers
February 14, 2015
Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours and author Kate Avery Ellison for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!

Find this review and more on my blog The Rest Is Still Unwritten!

Of Sea and Stone is the first novel in Kate Avery Ellison’s Secrets of Itlantis series and is a wonderfully woven together fantasy tale that proves to be a delightful twist on the underwater classic we’re all very aware of!

Of Sea and Stone follows Aemi, a slave within the Village of Rocks. Though she is intelligent and capable, Aemi spends her days tending to her masters every whim and dreaming of being free. An orphan after the death of her mother, Aemi hopes to one day travel to her mother’s homeland, a mysterious place known as Perilous. When her village is attacked, Aemi is taken hostage alongside a group of young men and soon she discovers that all the stories she has heard about a group of mystical people who live underwater are true. And as Aemi is taken deep underwater to a city she never dreamed existed, she discovers that in order to have any chance at escaping she’ll have to rely on all the intelligence and wit she has, whilst pairing up with her sworn enemy, a boy from her village that Aemi cannot stand…..

I have to say I really enjoyed this novel. Of Sea and Stone has all the makings of a great fantasy tale and managed to capture my attention from the very beginning. Author Kate Avery Ellison’s writing is descriptive and paints a wonderful picture of both the undersea world and Aemi’s home on land. I was thrilled to discover that this novel didn’t feature a single selkie, mermaid or sea creature and instead introduces readers to a society who have managed to make a home under the water through a series of buildings, constructions and gardens that are all housed within glass and are completely self-sustaining—ensuring the people who live within this society are able to survive, travel between and live amongst the various cities that make up this under water world.

With Of Sea and Stone featuring such a beguiling world within its pages it’s lovely to find that the heroine is someone who is genuinely easy to follow. Aemi is a simple girl who is vastly intelligent and competent and who can hold her own within a dangerous world despite her lowly station. Aemi is sharp and quick thinking and I appreciated her love of learning. She was honestly just easy to follow and I enjoyed her growing relationships with those around her.

Of Sea and Stone is part romance, adventure and is actually a story of friendship as Aemi begins to develop friendships with those she works for, and with, during her time in Itlantis. There’s the tiniest hint of romance within the novel that romantics such as myself will eat up and plenty of revelations and discoveries towards the end of the novel that set up the next book nicely.

Excellently paced and exciting, Of Sea and Stone is a great start to a promising series and I can’t wait to read more!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Willa.
203 reviews20 followers
March 1, 2018
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

And honestly this was the first book I even signed up for because it was the first one that had a decently interesting synopsis.

The story itself and the world in which it was set were enjoyable and rather unique. I'd love to visit the underwater country of Itlantis that Aemi is taken to when she is kidnapped. It sounds exceptionally beautiful.

But the characterization and quality of writing just weren't very good. Firstly, the characters all sounded the same. Aemi the slave spoke just the same way as her master's daughter, the mayor's son, her rough kidnappers from another country (practically another world), her new master after her kidnapping when she becomes "Indentured" rather than a slave, the other Indentureds who are supposed to be either criminals or debtors, the ruling class of Itlantis... and on and on. Everyone sounded exactly the same and that's just not believable.

The writing was also not my style. I'm the kind of reader who can enjoy a beautifully written book even without a thrilling plot, but I can't enjoy even a great story without good writing. And this writing was pretty choppy and lacked flow in my opinion. The author also had multiple instances of not keeping up with what her characters were doing physically. For example, "A young man stood at the edge of the pool, his feet hanging in the water, his arms braced behind him..." It's physically impossible to stand with your feet hanging in the water. In another place, Aemi braids her hair and then less than a page later, the wind "caught [her] hair and threw it into [her] face." Tendrils or strands may have gone into her face, but not all of her hair if it was braided. Another example: "Nol didn't look up from his writing, although he was clearly aware of my presence," then 3 paragraphs later, "So he was aware of my presence, despite pretending otherwise." There are more, but these make the point sufficiently.

A big pet peeve of mine is misuse of words and there were several here. Bearing when it should have been baring, pouring when it should have been poring (at least twice), distain instead of disdain, 'commandeered by' when it should have been 'commanded by' (although that doesn't seem quite right either). I probably sound mean, but that's all just lazy writing and even lazier editing. I might have even been more forgiving of the choppy writing if not for things like this pulling me out of the story so often.

I wish I could say I'd enjoyed it more because it was definitely an interesting premise and plot. Maybe the writing gets better in the subsequent books, but I personally won't be reading further.
Profile Image for Emily.
560 reviews38 followers
November 25, 2015
Aemi’s life as a slave sucks. Her only comforts are her friend Kit and her dreams of freeing herself and traveling to the mysterious and wonderful place her mother once called home. But before Aemi has a chance to change her life, her village is raided by the sea people and she and many young men from the village are kidnapped and enslaved in the undersea world of Itlantis. There, she finds that enemies might just be friends and there is an injustice that goes deeper than the one committed against her.

Of Sea and Stone was fantastic. It grabbed and held on to my attention through the entire story, as Aemi experiences all the ups and downs of a slave in a technological, undersea world. Her relationship with one of the other slaves from her hometown and the mystery underlying her capture and history kept me intrigued until the very end.

Aemi was a nice woman. She always wanted to know more and used every opportunity to do so. She usually had a decent attitude, despite everything that happened to her. One thing I did not understand is why Aemi was determined to escape Itlantis, even when good things were happening to her. Her life became much better than it ever had been in her village. I suppose it is because of the injustice done to her—that she had no choice but was forced to go there.

I loved the world it was set in. I had expected Itlantis to be a mermaid type of civilization, or maybe a version of the original Atlantians. Instead, it was more like the modern-day civilization and technology, forced to go underwater because of some disaster a thousand years before. The technology was slightly more advanced than it is today, instead of a primitive kind of society, like Aemi’s Village of the Rocks.

I found it interesting that Itlantis had slavery. If it was an advanced society from earth, what happened to reverse the no-slave policy? I suppose they were not exactly slaves: Criminals were forced into indentured servitude until they can pay off the debt they gained from their crimes. But still, not everyone was actually guilty…

Overall, Of Sea and Stone was very interesting. There were different facets to the story that made it interesting as the mysteries were solved. I am excited to read the next book and bought it after I finished this one. I would definitely recommend it anyone who likes dystopian.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for and honest review.
Profile Image for Holly .
1,348 reviews292 followers
July 24, 2016
*I received a copy of this from Xpresso Book Tours as part of the blog tour.
*Review can be found on The Fox's Hideaway.

My Review!
First off, that cover is holy wow gorgeous blue! And second, I really enjoyed Of Sea and Stone! It was a wonderfully written, richly detailed story that had me gripped from the beginning. It may have been short, but it was a great start to the series!

Even though this was a quick and short read, I could still connect with the main character, Aemi. She's a live-in servant to one of the richest families in the Village of the Rocks, but she wants more than that. She wants to be free, and she wants to live her own life. But she never would have chosen captivity. Aemi is tough and strong-willed, even though she's tossed back into the same world she's longed to leave. Being a servant living in an ancient underwater city, Aemi is out of her element, but that doesn't stop her from trying to learn its secrets so she can escape.

I wish the secondary characters and her relationships with them had been a bit more developed, went a little deeper, but I think we'll see more connections being formed in the sequel. And I hope the sequel will also bring us a romance. I liked that this book didn't focus on it! I don't think I could even say it had a romance. I think this story was more about introducing us to the characters, the major players, and the relationships. And it had a strong plot.

The world-building is wonderful and very detailed. It's a fascinating unique spin on Atlantis. I'm intrigued by where this is all heading. And even though the twist is sort of easy to guess, it didn't make it any less surprising by what was happening in the story and how it all played out. The plot was fast-paced and built up to a climatic ending that left me interested in reading the sequel for more.

I really enjoyed Of Sea and Stone!

Rating: 3.5 Paw Prints!
Profile Image for F. A..
474 reviews5 followers
April 10, 2014
Aemi lives in a place called Village of the Rocks. She is a slave and ignored and treated horrible by a boy her age in her village Nol. Everything changes for Aemi in the blink of an eye. A ship comes from the ocean in the middle of the night and takes Aemi and Nol.They travel to a world under the depths of the ocean. Nol ends up being taken to the same house and made a slave with her. Bitter and enslaved these two have a lot to figure out about the new world they have been taken too. This city of technology and beauty. Aemi who only had 1 true friend Kit on the surface become torn when she builds friends with the people who captured her. She made a promise to find Kit and yet she feels more at home in this new world.

I loved this book so much. This was a breath of fresh air. I was glued and could not put it down. Nothing was predictable which I loved. The character building was so great and I look forward to reading more of there developments in future books. In the end I was crying for book 2 and am counting the days till it is released. I am giving this book 5 out of 5 Stars. This is a unique book and a must read.
Profile Image for Laura  Hernandez.
784 reviews82 followers
October 2, 2015
I received a free copy via YA Bound Tours in exchange for a free review. I made no guarantee of a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are my own.

This is the first book I've read written by Kate Avery Ellison and she now has a new fan as this book is a fantastic read. It's full of action and moments of despair and sorrow that of course had me shedding tears. You'll also find your mouth dropping wide open as unexpected revelations are revealed.

This fantasy read about Itlantis is off to a wonderful start. I found this book to be well written with a continuously developing plot and characters that jump right off of the pages, making this book an exceptional read and appropriate for readers of all ages.
Profile Image for Dikra .
15 reviews
May 17, 2020
Of sea and stone is a well-written book. Easy and smooth to read. The author gave birth to a different and rather authentic world for the story. Unlike the usual-nowadays-YA books, you’ll certainly be transported to it by the description and partly wishing to be there to witness such a beauty.
Though the plot does not vary entirely from other storylines, it has its originality, I felt a bit of a quick pace in some part that should’ve been focused on. Yet, as the story unfolds it becomes more and more intriguing, calling for more attention and looking for more answers while mysteries surrounding Aemi’s current life unveiled.
It certainly is enjoyable and a light read, and judging by the first book, the series is a promising one.
Profile Image for Katherine Coble.
1,169 reviews250 followers
February 13, 2016
A solid start to a promising series. The world-building is spectacular and the setting is both inventive and beautifully imagined. The plot hangs together well.

I docked a star because the characters felt a little underdone. I really AM tired of first person. It is much more difficult to get well-rounded characters. But that aside this is far and away the best YA fantasy I've read in a long while. It was much more enjoyable than the highly-touted Traditionally Published _An Ember In The Ashes_, and had much better world building than the His Fair Assassin series. Not bad for a book that cost a dollar.

I definitely recommend this.
Profile Image for Kelly.
398 reviews4 followers
October 1, 2018
The world building on this was seriously lacking... hopefully the following books will illuminate it. I also had trouble picturing the cities under water. There was plenty of descriptions but it still did not paint the picture i needed in my mind if what it actually was...

What was this cataclysmic event that they talk about that brought these people to live under the sea? Who are the Dron? There is no real explanation to any of this.

Also the characters were not flushed out very well. The concept was ok but I wanted and expected so much more.
Profile Image for Meghan.
760 reviews14 followers
August 27, 2019
I liked the world building better than the characters

The characters were a little cookie cutter. Classic bff’s, classic angsty “other boy”, a few random mean girls, the well intentioned innocent bumbling friend, a few bad guys, a few random hotties, etc. but! The world building was great. The plot line was fine, nothing one way or the other, same old, same old. The idea of how people live and where and why was awesome. Good enough to finish the series with haste just to see more of the world building unfold.
Profile Image for Samantha.
6 reviews27 followers
February 5, 2018
When I first saw Of Sea and Stone I thought it would be a novel about mermaids but it's not what I expected at all. Aemi is a thrall in the Village of the Rocks and has no memory of any other life. She doesn't have many friends and no family as her Mother has passed away. One night mysterious men come up from the ocean in a great ship and burn her village to the ground. They kidnap Aemi and as many males as they could capture from her village including the mayor's smug second son, Nol. Aemi and Nol are taken to a great city beneath the sea and have to act as indentured servants to a kindly scholar and his daughter. Aemi finds that she may belong is this city more than she thinks and learns as much as she can about her new surroundings as she plans an escape with her new ally, Nol.

I was very quickly drawn into this story and finished it within two days. Aemi is a great protagonist and I loved following her adventures. She is very loyal, clever and has been working hard her whole life to escape slavery. Aemi hates Nol from years of rivalry but when given given the opportunity to escape the men that kidnapped her she also begs for Nol's life, putting aside her animosity. Aemi quickly adapts to her new circumstances and takes advantage of every chance she gets to learn more about Itlantis and it's inhabitants. She immediately starts planning her escape and eventually trusts Nol enough to bring him into her plans.

The story is very fast paced and I really enjoyed the story arcs of the characters. Nol really grew up from a spoiled, rich kid and into a character worth liking. Aemi learns how to trust and starts to see the people around her as friends. The descriptions of Itlantis are beautiful and really pulled me into the story, setting the scene in my mind. It's a great spin on Atlantis and has loads of political intrigue. I do hope we get to learn more about the background of the other characters in book two and have other perspectives besides Aemi's. The ending left me wanting more and I can't believe I hadn't heard of this series sooner. I am immediately going to start book two!

I was provided a copy of Of Sea and Stone by YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Rachael.
116 reviews
August 10, 2018
There isn't much of a plot in this one. Things are kickstarted about 50 pages in with the kidnapping and then they lull for 150.

We meet a good number of characters, but they come across one note and bland. Nol is Aemi's hated love interest who barely speaks or does anything. He definitely doesn't earn the 180 view of him. Mr. Darcy earns our trust and affections. Nol is just there. Aemi's fellow servant friends talk about food and tease each other. They remind me of school friends and how you stop talking to each other post grad when you realize the only thing bonding you together was the truancy fine.

Aemi's (spoilers: heritage) twist isn't much of a twist in this genre. An orphan who turns out to be more than she seems? Bleh.

The author creates some beautiful descriptions of the underwater world. I wanted to know more about the creation of it where Aemi wants to find escape routes. How does a world of glass survive in the ocean? How the pressure not crack it? Is this world magic or science?

Unfortunately I'm not sticking around to find out.
Profile Image for Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts).
652 reviews231 followers
May 20, 2015
When I first read the synopsis and title, I thought the book would be about mermaids and sirens. I'm disappointed it's not.

Just kidding.

Of Sea and Stone is a delightfully pretty read – literally – and the pretty cover doesn't lie (though the synopsis partially lies). The underwater world of Itlantis is certainly a place I would love to see in person had it actually existed – it sounds so exotic and pretty from the way Ellison describes it.
The city of Celestrus was a collection of massive needle-like structures—gold and silver and transparent—that hovered in the middle of the dark blue water in a spiral, like a necklace around a floating woman’s throat, the points stretching down into the darkness below. Above the highest spindles of the city, sunlight danced in the water, making patterns atop of the city that flashed and glittered.

*happy sigh* Despite the fact this sounds like something straight out of Stargate Atlantis, I just love how imaginative Celestrus sounds.

Most of the names are beautiful too, especially the ones for females: Mella, Aemi, Lyssia, etc. Or maybe I just have a thing for names ending with i and a. That probably sounds really weird.

Ellison also writes the story from a very interesting perspective: Aemi, a slave in the Village of the Rocks. There's not many books out there written from a slave's view out there aside from perhaps historical fiction, and I found it intriguing to know what type of character Aemi would be, seeing as she would have much limitations compared to the usual characters I typically encounter in books.

I'm not terribly impressed with Aemi, of course. She's a great friend with the way she's willing to take the risk for Kit just so he doesn't get punished (and gets the punishment herself as a result). However, she seems very judgmental, especially when it comes to Nol.
This was all Nol’s doing; it had to be. I scanned the room but didn’t see him. How could he want me gone so badly that he was willing to go this far? Had he told Crakea to search my bunk?

Every bad thing that happens to Aemi after she is captured and placed yet again into servitude as an Indentured, Aemi thinks it's Nol's doing. I don't know what their history is, but I would love to know about their past and Aemi's past. Ellison vaguely mentions a scene with Aemi's mother as a child, but there's nothing much afterward. While the lack of Aemi's history doesn't impact the rest of the story or plot as a whole, I think I'll understand Aemi's seemingly irrational hatred for Nol much better. Plus, it makes Aemi more of a round character rather than a flat character.

I do love Aemi's relationships and interactions with the other characters, especially with Tob – they just click well together straight from the start and Aemi's interactions with the others go smoothly... for the most part.
“I’m a food scholar, studying the three D’s of food. And you like teaching people, don’t you? Well, teach me.”
“The three D’s?”
“Delectability, delightfulness, and danger. Right now, my hunch is that these tarts need more danger. I’m thinking a drop of venom from the scorpionfish to give them a little sting.”
I grimaced. “Remind me to never eat anything you cook once you’re a kill cook.”
“Shock cook!” Tob said. “No one gets killed. Except the fish.”

The book, however, doesn't exactly go in tune with the synopsis. Not really.

Let me rephrase that before anyone gets an aneurysm: The book goes in tune with the synopsis. However, the part where Nol and Aemi work together to escape from the hands of the Itlanteans doesn't seem to be emphasized as much. There's this entire chunk of the book from Aemi's capture to Nol finding out her plan that Aemi isn't working with anyone – she's working on her own.
“I know you want to escape.”
“What?” I said, halting with one hand on the door.
“I know you want to,” he repeated. “You study the maps. You ask questions about ships, about the surface. You want to go back.” He paused. “I believe you’ll do it. You’re clever and you always seem to get what you want. Well, when you go, I want to go with you.”

She gets captured at Chapter 7, approximately 18% of the book. Nol doesn't find out – or rather, become suspicious and decides to confront her – about her plan until 65% of the book and literally tells her, "So... you're going to escape, huh? Take me with you!"
“Careful,” he said softly. “Don’t get trampled. I need you if we’re going to escape.”

Pfft. It sounds like he's taking advantage of the situation. Smart and sly there little guy, but taking advantage of the situation and helping out a teeny weeny bit – "Hey! Are you sure going to this place is a good idea?" and "Here's a suit that will protect you when you actually escape." – wasn't exactly part of the description.

Character problems and lack of character history – notice I said character history and not Itlantis history – aside, Ellison's first book in her newest series is a book that shows plenty of promise, although the perspective may be a little different in the sequel. It'll be interesting to see precisely how the rest of the series will play out and what other secrets Itlantis holds under the sea.
Review copy provided by the author for review
Original Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Original Review posted on Bookwyrming Thoughts
Profile Image for Anna.
343 reviews21 followers
February 22, 2018
The characters are by far the best part of this book. They're complex, relatable, and they generally mean well. There are no stereotypes here, no evil masters or wicked stepsisters. Instead, there is a rich world populated by flawed humans and it's a breath of fresh air. Aemi is everything you could want in a heroine: determined, intelligent, and fiery.

My struggle is with the budding romance between Aemi and Nol. There's just no build up to it and I honestly struggle with Nol's shift from tormentor to love interest. It took me completely by surprise, and not in a good way. I just can't buy the change in his character over such a short period of time.

Other than the romance (which isn't a huge part of the book), I thoroughly enjoyed the tale. It's full of twists and turns that'll keep you interested and the descriptions of Itlantis are gorgeous. Overall, it's a solid YA book. Also, cover love is real with this book.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Emily Beaver.
340 reviews43 followers
January 23, 2018
This book is a tidal wave! I didn't know what to expect when I first began reading this book. I was drawn in immediately. I mean, who doesn't want to read a story about an underwater village! I was not expecting this book to contain elements of mystery, which is what I think initially grabbed my attention from the start. Ellision's humor was spot on. Numerous times, I found myself wiping tears from my eyes due to laughter and painful emotions. There are so many unexpected turns that your mind is racing to keep up until the very end. The final twist was definitely a jaw dropper. The world building is picture perfect. I could easily imagine the underwater world and its inhabitants.

Of Sea and Stone is a unique story about a girl fighting for her freedom. It will not leave you disappointed.
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