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The Fourth Element #1

The Midnight Sea

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They are the light against the darkness.

The steel against the necromancy of the Druj.

And they use demons to hunt demons….

Nazafareen lives for revenge. A girl of the isolated Four-Legs Clan, all she knows about the King's elite Water Dogs is that they leash wicked creatures called daevas to protect the empire from the Undead. But when scouts arrive to recruit young people with the gift, she leaps at the chance to join their ranks. To hunt the monsters that killed her sister.

Scarred by grief, she's willing to pay any price, even if it requires linking with a daeva named Darius. Human in body, he's possessed of a terrifying power, one that Nazafareen controls. But the golden cuffs that join them have an unwanted side effect. Each experiences the other's emotions, and human and daeva start to grow dangerously close.

As they pursue a deadly foe across the arid waste of the Great Salt Plain to the glittering capital of Persepolae, unearthing the secrets of Darius's past along the way, Nazafareen is forced to question his slavery—and her own loyalty to the empire. But with an ancient evil stirring in the north, and a young conqueror sweeping in from the west, the fate of an entire civilization may be at stake…

326 pages, Paperback

First published March 26, 2016

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About the author

Kat Ross

40 books727 followers
I've always loved to read more than anything in the world, especially so-called genre stories—mysteries, fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, horror. I like books that take you by the hand and lead you out of the mundane. That ease back the curtain and show you the wondrous and dark and unexpected lurking just around the next corner. I worked in journalism for a long time before I returned to writing fiction. Guess which is more fun?

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5 stars
1,248 (31%)
4 stars
1,653 (41%)
3 stars
836 (20%)
2 stars
204 (5%)
1 star
69 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 570 reviews
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews113k followers
April 3, 2019
I thought this was okay - a pretty standard fantasy book. I like the slow buildup of the main characters' relationship, and found the villain to be both intimidating and compelling. I appreciate that the book isn't afraid to depict trauma and violence (amputations, etc.) which makes this a more mature/serious YA. But otherwise I don't have enough strong feelings about it to rate it 4 stars or higher.
Profile Image for Lonna | FLYLēF.
161 reviews186 followers
May 17, 2016
FLYLēF Book Reviews

Original Post: The Midnight Sea at FLYLēF (www.flylef.com)

GUARD YOUR HEART. For in The Midnight Sea, Kate Ross delivers a riveting fantasy of unparalleled proportions that stole a piece of mine. And in return, she has planted a memory of a gorgeously cinematic dreamscape inhabited by bold and brilliant characters. It is a thoroughly engaging story filled with action, suspense, and romance. I want more memories—I want more of The Midnight Sea.

After witnessing the death of her baby sister by an Undead, Nazafareen wants revenge. When an opportunity to join the King’s elite Water Dogs presents itself, she volunteers. All she knows is that to become a Water Dog, you must bond with a daēva—glorified slaves with powerful magic to wield against the Undead. But when she meets Darius with his soulful, ice blue eyes, the line between master and slave are blurred. Bonded through a magical cuff, Nazafareen not only controls his power, she knows his every emotions. The bond is intricate, wholly invasive, emotional jarring and yet somehow harmonious—comforting—and a forbidden romance is born that is deeply heartfelt and heart-healing.

When the holy fire used to forge the magical cuffs is stolen, Nazafareen and Darius are forced on a deadly mission that will not only pitch them against Undead enemies in the north and a young conqueror in the west, but they will also discover the secrets of Darius's past—a secret that will have Nazafareen question his slavery and her own loyalty to the empire.

The Midnight Sea isn't without some minor quibbles, but that would be like splitting hairs and I have enough split ends as it is. There is so much to love about this book. My favorite aspect of this richly imagined dark fantasy is that Ms. Ross brutally puts her protagonists through deliberate and engaging emotional and physical struggles that had me on the edge of my seat. It was intense, it was exciting—to see the lengths with which she’s willing to push her characters. None of her characters are spared; no one is safe.

Kat Ross’s stunning first installment, The Midnight Sea, inaugurates an original series that will surely please YA fantasy enthusiasts. Fast-paced action, intriguing characters, compelling romance, and a gripping storyline, it is a well-written page-turner that will keep you enthralled to the end. The Midnight Sea was highly enjoyable, and I look forward to the second installment in The Fourth Element series.
Profile Image for Sylvia Mercedes.
Author 38 books1,437 followers
March 3, 2017
This amazing adventure was one of my three favorite reads of February! So, to celebrate the launch of my new website, I'm giving away a print copy of it along with two others (including "Caraval" in hardbound!) Visit my website to enter the giveaway!

February Giveaway photo FebruaryGiveaway_zps0tdrsvuh.jpg

Thanks for helping me celebrate. I'm so excited to continue adventuring in this world of book reviews with all of you!

All right, this was some seriously impressive storytelling! Everything about this world was so vivid and real, which meant the characters were also more vivid and real than most. Nazafareen makes for a compelling heroine, plagued by inner demons but never letting them bring her down. Darius was tremendously sympathetic, and the side characters--Tijah! Myrri! Tommas!--were each appealing in his or her own unique way.

But my favorite thing about this book: the plot twists! So many books in this genre start to sound alike with totally predictable turns of events. But not this one! The central villain was the LAST person I expected, and that surprise was so well done, so effectively handled. I was already quite swept up in the story, but THAT moment--that moment when I REALIZED what was going on with that character--was the moment I knew I'd discovered a new favorite book.

I think I'm going to take a break from this world before reading the next book in the series. I've got it downloaded and ready to go, but I want to let this story settle on its own for a week or two first.
Profile Image for Ashley.
31 reviews42 followers
September 24, 2018
You can see this and other reviews on my blog: Book Nerd Paradise

Well, this was another sleepless night on the books ... and I mean that in a good way. If you're looking for the perfect fantasy then you can stop what you're doing and check out The Midnight Sea. There's lots of action, story/character building, more action, drama and a dash of romance.

The story starts off with death and mayhem as we're quickly introduced to the evil Druj. Nazafareen watches as one possesses her younger sister, a fate that she can't come back from. This moment sparks Nazafaree's journey of revenge against all Druj. She'll leave her family and home behind to become a Water Dog.

The Midnight Sea starts when Nazafareen is barely out of her child years but moves quickly through her training as a Water Dog, which takes a few years, until she's on the cusp of adulthood. Then, we finally meet Darius, the daeva she'll be linked to. Throughout the book we get small glimpses into his past and I know it's just skimming the surface.

The relationship between our two main characters is interesting in the beginning. They train together, but have little contact outside of that. Neither really has any interest in the other. Then, slowly we see their friendship start to bloom. Both a little wary and unsure of themselves.

I really enjoyed their relationship as a whole. It took a long time to buildup and there's only a little romance at the end. They're conflicted because Darius is still a slave and Nazafareen is still the one in control of the chains. But you can see she's a good person, she's just struggling to sort out how she feels versus what she was raised to believe.

Overall, this gets a solid 4 stars from me for being well-written, fast paced and also a little dark at time. I just love it and I can't wait to see what the next book brings. I have a feeling things will get even more intense as the story continues.

** I was provided a copy of this book in return for an honest review
Profile Image for Lalla.
259 reviews43 followers
June 4, 2020
I stumbled across this book completely by chance. As the story goes, one day The Midnight Sea popped up in my Goodreads feed, the cover attracted my attention and so I checked out the plot and it sounded interesting enough. Sooo I picked it up and well here am I, totally glad I did.

The book left me pleasantly surprised; I wasn’t expecting to like it so much as I did or to care about the characters as much as I did (and I am). The Midnight Sea turned out to be a wonderful, wonderful surprise.

Writing & Pacing. The writing was fluid and smooth but without lacking detail. The pacing was good. I never felt bored and that is an accomplishment by itself. This book is a terrific mix of action, plot-twists and romance. However, the romance never felt excessive and/or never over-powered the overall plot, a fact I highly appreciated.

The World building. You know, Alexander the Great, Zarathustra, the Persian Empire—the last time I read these names I was in high-school and now imagine my surprise in finding them here! The author managed to create a fascinating (at times, gloomy) peculiar world. The fantastic blend of historical elements and fiction had me hooked from the very first chapters (which is not usual).

The characters. I liked all of them (Okay I did hate some but rightfully so), they felt very real in their imperfect beauty. I liked how they loved and care for each other in spite of their flaws.

The romance. Thanks to God. I found the absence of insta-love and the fact that for once we get a real and delicious slow-burning romance very refreshing. I’m totally overjoyed by the fact.

Profile Image for Seon Ji (Dawn).
1,014 reviews219 followers
February 6, 2017
5 stars!

Got this as a freebie and I am so surprised at how much I love this book.

Lots of great conflict, 3 dimensional characters, excellent world building and a FANTSTIC antagonist!

I cannot summarize the plot, it's just too complicated and I am too tired.

I will just say the following:

I love the heroine and the hero. The heroine pretty much acts in the same manner that I would in the same situation, so her actions are believable to me.

I think what rocks this book is the antagonist. He is a good character who turns bad. And MAN is he BAD when he does turn. But what I love about this character is that he is not evil for the sake of being evil.. his actions and thoughts all have reasons..as warped as they are..in short, his character makes sense!

BRAVO to the author!

This is not a cliffhanger persay, but the ending makes you NEED to read the next book.

I am going to dive right into the second book right now!


Hero- Unknown if virgin. He is of a race that is not allowed to procreate with humans, but there was a sentence in which he referred to a "she" but it was not explained..at least yet. So it could be his mother, another woman from his past..we just don't know yet, but whoever the "she" was abused him. I suspect it was the person who he was bonded to before the heroine. (bonded because the H's race are slaves with power, and they get bonded to another so their power is controlled..it is not a romatic bonding).
Cheating-No Since he bonded with the h (bonded in a spiritual sense not physical) he does not want to bond with anyone else.."even if he were free."
Insta love-No
Torture- The hero was in the past and again in this book but the details are unknown right now
Violence-Yes. With some detail
Sex-kissing only so far
Profile Image for Glory.
350 reviews49 followers
June 7, 2016
Больше всего цепляют книги, от которых совсем ничего не ждешь – в который раз убеждаюсь.
В данном случае аннотация меня не то чтобы сильно заинтересовала, как и обложка… безусловно яркая, но лично мне ни о чем не говорящая.
Но оказалось, что под ней скрывается удивительная история.
Минусы тоже есть, и неслабые такие, о них я скажу в конце. А пока…

Начать с того, что история оригинальна. По крайней мере, не возникало ощущения, что я такое уже читала. В какой-то момент проскользнула ассоциация с «Проповедью огня» Хейг, но лишь когда открылась неполноценность одного из пары в связке. У Хейг это были близнецы – альфы и омеги, – а здесь речь об одаренных и их почти рабах (демонах, дэвах). Но на этом схожесть заканчивается, ибо дальше все по-другому. Иная зависимость, иные причины увечий.
И больше никаких ассоциаций, дежавю или откровенного плагиата, чем грешат многие авторы YA, мол, все хорошее давно придумано до нас. При этом нет никакого маразма и крайностей в попытке соригинальничать. История по сути своей проста, чем подкупает еще сильнее.

Автор взяла за основу 4 век до н.э.
Это Греция, Персия, Искандер-Александр Македонский, пророчества Заратустры и прочее-прочее.
Тонко, ненавязчиво, новое на осколках хорошо известного старого.
Автор создала свои ритуалы и знаки, даровала персонажам веру и силу, обосновала нынешнюю ситуацию в мире – не многостраничными описаниями прошлого, а мимолетными упоминаниями войны и ее исхода.

Я в восторге от Назафарин. Стойкая, смелая, совестливая, не идеальная, но стремящаяся поступать правильно. Дарий… раскрыт похуже. Но лишь в силу повествования от первого лица героини.
Тут вы не найдете треугольников, инсталав, бесконечного «ах, как он прекрасен». Только двух людей, связанных магией и силой, чувствующих друг друга как самих себя, любящих и отважных.

Второстепенные персонажи тоже интересны, хоть и раскрыты еще меньше, чем Дарий. Нет, они не плоские, весьма характерные, разные, со своими страхами и стремлениями, но, опять же, мы видим лишь верхний слой из-за повествования от первого лица. При этом Назафарин подмечает нюансы их поведения, но почему-то не спешит строить предположения. К примеру,
В общем, получается, поверхностны не сами второстепенные персонажи, а суждения о них героини. Она не пытается заглянуть глубже, хотя, судя по поведению, там глубины хватает.

Темп очень быстрый. Такой, что отложить книгу просто не получилось. Нет заминок, нудных или неважных моментов. Есть долгий и сложный путь, полный боли, потерь и открытий. Автор не жалеет героев. Нас ждет и смерть, и страшные травмы, и… многое другое.

Стиль, язык, слог – все просто, но не примитивно. Это приятная простота, меткие и яркие образы, вкусные описания, без всяких зубодробительных метафор, от которых мозг пухнет. Назафарин – дикарка из клана кочевников, потому мы воспринимаем мир так же, как она. Самую суть.

Не знаю, что еще сказать. История захватила и не отпускала. А последняя глава и эпилог чуть не заставили застонать от нетерпения. Как теперь дождаться следующей части? Это не клифхенгер во всей его красоте, но обещание новых испытаний и приключений. Удастся ли героям спасти мать Дария до того, как Македонский начнет осаждать город? Жив ли Заратустра, и кто доберется до него первым? Чью сторону примут дэвы?
Агр, хочу продолжение)))

“I plan to march to the ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea,” the young King said, his mismatched eyes shining with certainty. “And it’s Al-ex-an-der.” He smiled. “You Persians always butcher my name.”

Ах да, о минусах… Точнее об одном и самом главном.
Проблемы с чувством времени. Первые несколько глав повествование перескакивает через годы, и за этим трудно поспевать.
Мы знакомимся с Назафарин в горах, когда она теряет сестру. В следующей главе уже прошел год, героине почти четырнадцать, в их клан приезжают вербовщики. Потом очень недолгий промежуток в лагере, обучение у Ильяса, и вдруг уже прошло три года, и ей наш��и собственного дэва. Привязка, потом «мы уже год в связке», а следом «два года». То есть по сути эти несколько лет должны описывать становление героини, ее обучение, их знакомство и притирку с Дарием, но ничего этого нет. Просто факты, события, мало чувств. Назафарин не растет, не взрослеет, не превращается из тринадцатилетней коечвницы в девятнадцатилетнюю воительницу. Она вообще будто не меняется за эти годы. Как была умная, сдержанная, смелая, так и осталась.
Я не вижу смысла в этих первых главах, если честно. Эти события можно было передать флешбеками, воспоминаниями, еще как-нибудь. А такие скачки… утомляют и мешают восприятию. По сути, история начинается в момент побега шести дэвов из тюрьмы. Когда герои пускаются в погоню, тогда и начинаются все изменения в их мыслях, чувствах и желаниях.
Впрочем, все имхо. Возможно, другие воспримут эти события иначе)))

В любом случае история стоящая, увлекательная, мощная.
Profile Image for Lillian ☁ Cloud 9 Books ☁.
573 reviews333 followers
June 16, 2017
***** 4 Stars *****

Nazafareen lost her younger sister to an evil demon. So when she gets the opportunity to join the Water Dogs, she volunteers to get her revenge.

Water Dog's are some of the King's elite soldiers against the evil demons. They train for years until they are bonded with a daēva. These daēvas have magical powers, but they are treated like dirt even though they fight for the King.

Darius is the daēva that gets paired with Nazafareen. Their bond goes through many ups and downs as they try to work together as a team. The story is filled with adventure and action. There is also a tiny bit of romance.

My favorite part of this book is that the reader gets to discover the new world with Nazafareen. One day she's living like a nomad at a small secluded mountain village, and then the next day she is in one of the largest cities full of people and noise. I also loved the deadly missions that the team attempted. I can't wait to read book 2!

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Profile Image for Chelsies Reading Escape.
631 reviews363 followers
November 17, 2017
I would like to thank the author Kat Ross for sending me a review copy. It took me way too long to pick this up. After over a month of staring at it in longing I was finally able to pick it up. I had so many other review books that were due last month that I only had a chance to read the first few pages. I immediatly liked what I was reading and Im happy to finally be able to dive in.

After losing someone to a demon possession Naza decides to join the Water Dogs to become a demon killing soldier. Her Water Dog leader Illyas trains her to kill Druj (demons) with her bonded Daeva Darius along side Trijah and her bonded Daeva Myrri. Their job is to keep control of their Daeva and use them to kill Druj. However not everyone in the kingdom believes that Daeva are evil and should be subject to slavery.

The beginning starts off with a significant and interesting scene but by the time we got to Nazas training I had a difficult time focusing. That didnt last long though because about half way through I started to really get pulled in. For the most part the writing flowed nicely and the pacing never got too slow. I really enjoyed the plots twist and betrayal. Having a friend turn into a villain makes their actions that much more heartwrenching.

I appreciated the major themes about slavery and religion. I think they added some great substance and depth to the story. There were some questions as to how the bond works and the differences between Antimagi, Necromaner, Druj, Revenant that werent clear but besides that the world building was great. I was able to predict some things but I think thats mostly because I noticed the hints and forshadowing.

I thought the magic system was well thought out with the different elements having different consequences when the Daeva used them. I also loved the setting choice with the salt plains, desert, ocean, mountains, fig trees, harem, etc. The culture also had some Arabian elements and some references to past rulers that enjoyed. I thought it was unique that the main character had a nomadic upbringing.

The main character Naza was impulsive and kept things interesting. She also did smart things that I wouldnt have expected from her, like spitting to see if she was upright in the snow. Her intelligence was refreshing and I appreciated that she could think for herself. I also loved the romance and the fact that she didnt immediatly fall in love. Her bonded Daeva Darius was a complex character and intrigued me.

Tijah and her bonded Daeva Myrri were also fascinating characters with an interesting background. I liked that Tijah and Naza developped a friendship. I also thought Kayan and Victor were a great addition to the story but I liked Tommas the most. He was a kind character and I instantly liked him. I dont remember the last time characters made me feel as strongly. For example I got so angry at Ilyas that I actually screamed out loud.

Ilyas shame for loving his bonded Daeva Tommas made him crazy. I could tell he was projecting his feelings onto Naza and Darius when she showed compassion for her Daeva he immediatly assumed that she was in love with him and that it would lead to sinning. I hated him as a person but I did really like him as a character. I think his character was well developped and added a lot of intensity to the story.

Actual Rating is Closer to 4.5 Stars
Profile Image for Belinda.
1,331 reviews181 followers
December 13, 2018
4,25 stars - English free Ebook - I was thinking the leading character in this book was a boy but in fact it is a girl. A girl from the four leg clan. Way up in the mountains. After her sister is beeing killed by a Wight, she joint the Water Dogs, an elite fighting group, working for the king. The are bonded to deava who are able to work water, earth and wind. Only fire is impossible. They burn when they come to close to the holy fire. Nazafareen and her deava Darius have a lot of adventures who lead them to a totaly different world and to a different king. All the twist en turns in this book, de storyline, was for me unexpected. I realy did enjoy this book. Will like to read the second book in this series. Maybe next year. I am allready reading to many books at the same time. 🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄
Profile Image for Angigames.
1,244 reviews
November 4, 2017
Libro da cui non mi aspettavo grandi cose e che invece mi ha completamente stupito!
Narrazione serrata, storia molto bella, innovativa, gestita benissimo. Un fantasy molto particolare, incalzante e complesso, pieno di colpi di scena ed estremamente dinamico!
È stata un’avventura meravigliosa, emozionante e sempre imprevedibile, non mi aspettavo tanta bellezza, non pensavo di rimanerne così coinvolta!
Ho adorato ogni cosa, sono super curiosa…
Spero che la Dunwich Edizioni pubblichi in fretta i seguiti!
Profile Image for Minni Mouse.
626 reviews962 followers
September 10, 2017
3.5 stars. If I'd known there was a glossary of terms at the end of the book, that would have saved me a whole lot of confusion and rereading 😤. At around the 46% mark in the book I had to stop and re-skim the beginning for the info dump that was so weakly done as an info dump that I didn't even know that was what it was. Grr.

All in all, this book would have been fantastic if written by Marie Rutkoski or Marie Lu. For the relationship aspect between Nazafareen and Darius, they have nothing on Kestrel and Arin from Rutkoski's The Winner's Curse. Their stories are similar enough in that it's both an enemies-turned-lovers and forbidden/taboo releationship mixed with the element of slavery. Unfortunately for Nazafareen and Darius, though, the depths of their releationship with one another wasn't explored nearly as well as Kestrel and Arin.

As for the rest, what began as a cursory young adult book became a story with the potential to be much darker and evil and grander-scale...something that Marie Lu could have probably done a lot better than Kat Ross. So while I got sucked in after a few chapters, I was also extremely unimpressed by the blandness of the writing. What a shame.

1) The theme of the prejudice humans have against daeva was powerfully done and is, by far, the most moving and explored part of the story. On a grand scale, we learn the tepid history of the daeva and the role they supposedly played in this big war/uprising, but what strikes the hammer even closer to home is to see that played out on a personal level between Illyas and Tommas. That relationship was very well described.

2) An interesting story! I skimmed a bit, sure, but on the whole there was a decent amount of action, romance, political intrigue, betrayal, etc.

1) The writing and worldbuilding for this book were glaringly superficial. The taste of this time period never once came off the page even remotely, as neither did the supernatural creepies ever once awe or daunt with their powers. Characters are aged what, five years in this book, but apart from the narration essentially stating the passage of time and the statement of thoughts, we don't feel for the characters. We don't connect with them, and we certainly don't connect with their relationships to each other. E.g., one of Nazafareen's homegirls has an unfortunate past from which she's running -- none of us really care, though, because her role to the story doesn't lend much significance to this book's plot nor to our main characters.

2) Nazafareen isn't a particularly likeable character. Not to say that we can actively dislike her, but she doesn't seem like a real person with whom we identify. The way that the writing speeds along at such a weak and superficial pace doesn't allow for us to truly empathize with the character's motivations nor with her weaknesses and pains. Sure, you're avenging a love one...but why should we care? The story never spends enough time showing us why her family and clan are important and unique enough to believably drive the rest of Nazafareen's story.

3) The Water Dogs are the worst kind of super assassins: the kind that are preternaturally skilled at killing things for no reason other than the book mentions they've spent time training for it with sharp objects and pointy sticks. And now we're supposed to believe that they're all powerful? That an entire group of soldiers ate it after the Antimaji fight, but that every Water Dog survived because they're that speshull?

4) There are way too many supernatural baddies and terms and names casually thrown out in this book with very little impression of their abilities. For example, Necromancers are supposed to be some kind of baddie you don't mess with, but all I got from the book was that they get their power from carting around a line of White Walkers behind them on a chain. Compare that with, let's say, descriptions of Ringwraiths or Dementors, and you see the wide gap between superficial writing and quality writing.

This book had a ton of those wonderful book chemistry elements for me, and reminded me of moments from favorites such as The Winner's Curse, Nemesis, and Air Awakens. I'm still not sold on the writing or worldbuilding, though, which means I'm unsure if I'm invested enough to continue.
Profile Image for Emma.
221 reviews81 followers
February 20, 2018
So I started reading this last night when I got bored and could be bothered turning on a light, I got this for free on IBooks last year. Boy was this book a damn journey! Heart wrenching at times and joyful at others I will be sure to finish this series!
Oh and Nazafareen and Darius are my new OTP.
I’d die for them both lmao.
Profile Image for Alexandra.
1,843 reviews10 followers
September 12, 2016
I received a copy from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. Review can be found on *Milky Way of Books*

One of the most interesting read of the previous month was "The Midnight Sea". I was quite surprised to see that this book was so well written and that its characters felt so real! Nazafareen has the gift to see and fight the Druj, the demons who haunt her world and the Empire. So she is taken from her clan and she grows into the ranks of the Water Dogs, the group of the fighters who serve the Emperor.

In these troups Nazafareen bonds with a Druj of her own, Darius, who is not the mindless monster everyone thinks. As the years pass and the pair grows closer, they both come to realise that there are not only evil Druj, but also they have been mistreated all these centuries.

Betrayal and adventure, fighting and romance come together in a very explosive blend and also with very well executed turn of events!
I like how Kat Ross described everything, from the deserts to the Temples as also each and every emotional scene. Her characters feel real with flaws and fears, dreams and intense emotions and I really loved how well written her story was. Not to mention the diverse sub-plot.
It really feels that this book should be more recognised and I would love to read more of this series. (I've also read the second book which will be reviewed later).

Finally, the book also is an alternative history told from a different point of view, which was also a very clever move from the author! Which one I'll not tell you. ;)
Profile Image for Thibault Busschots.
Author 3 books47 followers
January 26, 2022
Nazafareen’s little sister was killed by a Druj, pretty much a demon of some sorts. When the King's elite Water Dogs come to her camp, looking for new recruits, she doesn’t hesitate and wants to join them. The Water Dogs bond with captive demons to strengthen themselves and fight the wild demons.

A very standard fantasy in plot at first, though it’s easy to say it is executed really well. It’s well-written, the characters are engaging and the world building is really good. I quite like the master/slave relationship between the Water Dogs and their demons. The subtle romantic subplot between the main character and her demon however is not really my cup of tea, but that’s personal preference. This story also deals with powerful themes like searching for your own truth, slavery and freedom. Overall, a pretty good fantasy read.
Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
February 8, 2021
The Buzz

Aislynn @ Port Jericho recommended this series and I was so intrigued by the daeva and water dogs relationship that I knew I wanted to read it too. When I received a gift card The Midnight Sea was one of the books that I purchased. And I'm so glad that I gave Nazafareen and Darius a chance to win over my heart!!

I like the cover and the title. It fits with the world very well. The cover design doesn't blow me away with how spot on to the story it is but it looks professional. You would never suspect this is an indie author! Scrolling on Amazon you would jump to read what this is about, which makes for a good cover.

The Premise

The Midnight Sea is an alternate history fantasy that quite blew me away from the first chapter where we first meet the Druj, undead creatures who prey on humans. Nazafareen lives to avenge her little sister and she gets her chance when she joins the King's elite Water Dogs. I really loved the idea of this elite group of soldiers using a certain kind of Druj, called daeva, to battle the larger undead host. It wove together culture from this time period with fantastical magic and a mystery that we didn't even know we wanted.

Set right before the fall of the Persian Empire during Alexander the Great's time, The Midnight Sea gives readers a glimpse of what this time might have been like if plagued by an invading undead army on one side and a charismatic king of the other. Nazafareen wasn't supposed to be in the middle of this war. She's from a small mountain tribe who barely survive, but the death of her sister changed everything and brought her to Darius. I really loved that their relationship was all business at first. Being in each other's heads brought them closer and their own choices too care of the rest.

The magic involved in The Midnight Sea was fascinatingly different. There is this aspect of slavery to the daeva that was quite dark and brutal with their cuffs that forge the bond with their water dog but also binds their magic. We only get glimpses of this dark world through Nazafareen's experiences with Darius but it totally grabs you by the throat. As we shifted from hunting down the escaped daeva with Ilyas, Nazafareen's captain, and the drama from that epic battle events get really nasty. I'm talking another level of dark and brutal. It's satisfying but also torturous!

My Experience

The Midnight Sea doesn't have your typical info dumping which was such a pleasure!! We cover a lot of time as Nazafareen starts when she was 12 years old and watched her sister die and takes us through joining the Water Dogs, training with and without her daeva and finally bonding with him. I don't typically enjoy this type of narrative where things are summarized but Kat Ross utilized this style with skill!! She pulled out specific scenes and moments that highlighted everything about the world and related it to Nazafareen's specific experience. It totally captures you for when we transition to a more typical moment by moment narrative when they go after the escaped daeva.

Nazafareen's captain, trainer and friend is Ilyas. He is bonded to Tomas, a daeva whom he has a rather rocky relationship with. Ilyas quite captured me, just as strongly as Nazafareen and Darius did. I didn't realize what a strong part of the story he would turn out to hold but its deliciously morally grey and his descent into madness was such a great foil to the partnership and slow burn love that Nazafareen and Darius developed. We need more mental health storylines like this one in fantasy!

I also loved learning about the daeva through Darius and his back history. I enjoyed Nazafareen's friendship with another water dog. The diversity was so subtle but wonderfully incorporated!! We have a M/M relationship and a mute daeva who uses sign language, plus some handicaps with various characters. The history of the magic and how it was twisted was quite depthful! It's always a good sign when its clear an author has thought hard about their world.

The Midnight Sea is an engaging alternate history fantasy set in the Middle East. The daeva magic, forbidden, slow burn romance and the rich culture and history make this a must read if you enjoy books that are unique and different! Indie fantasy at its best!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style
⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building
A- Cover & Title grade

Please like this review if you enjoyed it! *bow* *bow* It helps me out a ton!!
Profile Image for Mitch.
355 reviews605 followers
June 1, 2016
Frankly, this is the first fantasy book I've really liked in a long time, and I read many of them. The good reviews speak for themselves, plus Kat Ross is a natural at fantasy mythology / Greco-Persian history and culture. The rare book I'm keeping an eye out for the sequel.
Profile Image for Tamara.
407 reviews24 followers
December 21, 2016
2.5 stars

I received a copy from instafreebies.com.

The revelations at the end made me smile. But otherwise, the book was blah blah blah....
Profile Image for Carey.
527 reviews55 followers
May 18, 2016
I chose this book because by reading the synopsis I really couldn't tell exactly what it was about, but yet it intrigued me. The reason I couldn't understand what it was about was because it is about a made up world and situations. Oh to have this kind of imagination! I believe there are actually made up words in the book. At least they were unfamiliar to me and when I pressed down on them on my Kindle, it was not able to find a definition.

As I started to read the book I was concerned that I wouldn't understand what was happening in the book. It was so foreign to what I have read in the past. I can't help but compare it to The Hobbit. The Hobbit is a book I've heard so much about that I just really want to be able to read it and understand what is going on in the book. However, for some unknown reason I just can't grasp The Hobbit and have never made it very far in the book.

That wasn't a problem with The Midnight Sea. Sure there were bits that I didn't understand completely. But either those bits were explained more later or they just weren't a deal breaker with the story. Once we get beyond the preliminary bits of the story, the book moves quickly. It is so full of action!

I quickly fell in love with the main character Nazafareen. It didn't take me long to like Darius once we're introduced to him. The relationship between these two characters is beautiful! Nazafareen fights their bond to begin with, but eventually learns how strong they can be as a team. It appears as if they will be the "stars" of the Water Dogs so to say. Then a twist is thrown into the book and took me by surprise.

I will warn you that this book ends on a cliff hanger of sorts. But it's one of the "good" cliff hangers. It's not one of those that leaves you hanging without knowing whether a character is alive or dead or something else big like that. We just have to wait for book 2 to see what the next stage of the rebellion is. I can't wait for book 2! I'm off to stalk (in a good way) the author to get clues about the next book.

Please note that I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Alyssa Janine Busia.
125 reviews45 followers
June 2, 2019
Another world for fantasy readers to explore and to enjoy.

Nazafareen’s sister was taken by a wight, a kind of druj, that leaves her uncle no other choice but to kill her sister. It was a nightmare that continuously hunted her, and it only stopped when she joined the Water Dogs and was bonded with Darius, a daeva. Being bonded was not as easy as she needs to share her emotions with Darius. As time passed by, everything started to change – she was beginning to see that daevas were not evil and definitely not a druj and her loyalty to the empire was now on the edge of breaking apart.

I liked this novel! Just like her other book, The Daemoniac, this never failed my expectation because the story itself has something on it that bewitched me on reading it until the end.

The plot was amazing! I liked the concept of druj and daeva and the bonding and sharing of your emotions through a cuff. The setting was another point to me, too, as I kind of liked history before when I was in high school.

The characters were all awesome. I hate how Ilyas broke my heart, and I love how Darius fixed it. Nazafareen was amazing in her own ways! She was brave and full of determination, though she was really a pain in the ass (sometimes). I also like Tijah. In fact, it’s her I’m looking forward to meeting in the future. I believed she would be a fantastic friend.

The way it was written was good! The author wrote a detailed explanation here. She also gave a great description of each druj and of the places on the story. It really helped a lot to imagine the story.

What I only dislike was when Ilyas also loved his daeva. It made me think if Ilyas was homosexual or not. I liked Ilyas, and it only pushed me away, thinking he might be attracted to his own daeva.

This novel is really good. It has everything that you’ll enjoy reading. This is very recommended for fantasy readers out there!

Disclaimer: I received a reader copy from the author via Xpresso Book Tours.

BLOG POST LINK: http://bit.ly/2k6Pycw
Profile Image for Fedra.
406 reviews91 followers
September 28, 2021
Before I begin with my review let me just say that you can download this ebook for FREE from Amazon. And yes, it’s totally worth it!

I’m so glad I read this book! Our female protagonist is a very strong woman (in the beginning of the story she’s younger but we watch her grow up in the first chapters). The world that Kat Ross made is full of magic, sin and desperate need of heroes. I’m not going to give away any details about the story, just know that if you enjoy reading fast- paced YA fantasy full of plot twists, you’ll definitely like this one!

As you may know, I’m from Greece so I found the whole setting too familiar even thought there isn’t a map in the first pages. When I started reading names like “Hellespont, Antikithyra, Macydon, Thebes, Attican wine, the Bosporus” and things like that… I know it was around the Mediterranean and Greece regions. Sure, some things are completely fantasy, but it’s nice for any Greek friends to read it, even though you can only find the Midnight Sea in English.

I will get the second book of the Fourth Element trilogy really soon! I highly recommend it!

Possible triggers:
1. The book has a lot of violence,
2. There are slaves and some of them are women, so we find mistreated ones, even sexually, but that last one is never described.
3. In the first pages we witness the death of a little girl.
Profile Image for DaBear.
132 reviews4 followers
February 9, 2017
2-3 stars?

First 50% of this book almost bored me to tears. So slow and nothing happening. Mostly just thoughts of female main character. I found myself skipping pages.

Then drama and action started. Finally this book got my attention.

I didn't really like Nazafareen at first but I warmed up to her by the middle of this book. Strong and fearless.

Darius was ok, I guess? We didn't get to know him, just that he has his walls around his feelings and thoughts all the time.

Romance was very weak and not believable at all. Why they developed feelings? Whey didn't even talk much until 70% of the book. Just because they are sexy and beautiful? Suddenly she felt in love with him for no reasons. Not deep enough.

The storyline was ok, the settings and development of the events was alright. Something way to cruel for my liking.

Overall, it was very mediocre read for me. If you will be stuck somewhere and need to kill some time - this is the book to read. Let's see if things will get better in the second instalment.
May 19, 2016
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

While I did get this book through Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program, I am participating in a blog tour. I can promise you that this did not affect my rating or review.

The Midnight Sea is the first in a YA fantasy series set in a world very similar to ours a few thousand years ago. It follows the story of Nazafareen, a nomad girl turned Warrior Dog, willingly trained to kill Durj (demons) and necromancers with a bonded daeva, Darius. When a powerful force breaks free from its prison, their Warrior Dog unit takes a little trip across plains, mountains and deserts, uncovering old secrets and forcing Nazafareen to question everything. Yes, it was pretty damn exciting.

What I loved above everything else was the world the story took place in. It initially seemed like a fantasy world, but I slowly became very suspicious it was based on our world, until certain details confirmed my suspicions. While the book is clearly not a retelling of history (demons and magic?), some of it is based very loosely on our history BC, and that just made this book cooler for me. Modern history (that just sounds silly now, doesn’t it) has never interested me a lot, but I loved studying ancient history in school!

I’m a sucker for stories about nomadic groups, having had my first taste as a preteen reading books by Suzanne Fisher Staples, so the beginning really grabbed me, what with the MC being from the travelling Four-Legs Clan. It was interesting getting a taste of this at the start, and then how it affected her as a person later on. I also enjoyed reading about the other characters and their backgrounds from different places, how their societies functioned and what sort of people they were because of their upbringing. Darius, in particular, was haunted by his past, something I want to see more of in the next book.

THE MAGIC SYSTEM. Loved it. Daeva were able to control three of the four elements: water, air and earth. Fire was too unpredictable, and they feared it because it could suck them in and kill them. What really got me about this system was that all magic had an effect on the person controlling it, a price to pay. It was also very spiritual, an act of connecting with the world in an almost meditative state.

Special mention to several winning things about this book:

- One of the characters is mute and talks with their friend using sign language.
- Several of the characters have physical impairments, but they are not held back by them unnecessarily, and they are still loved.
- This book critically examines slavery and treatment of people who are different, as well as religion. Very interesting.

Not everything was hunky-dory, though. I loved the start of the book and the pacing seemed right. However, the story hit the rocks halfway through, with scenes jumping forward in a haphazard manner and too fast. The steady development of character and plot went a bit haywire, with characters suddenly changing. Ilyas, for example, was clearly going down a path, but it felt like he took a flying leap along this path at one point. This applied to the relationships as well, with a slow burn suddenly being very intimate.

I also felt like some things were done for shock factor and not for the actual plot. Horrific things happened without warning that weren’t entirely cohesive with the story, one event after the next. They also left me confused when they seemed to have no bearing on other parts of the story.

The Midnight Sea was definitely an exciting and interesting read, if a bit bizarre and hurried at times. The final scenes left me wanting more, and I’ll be awaiting the next book in the series!

See this review in its natural environment, Dani Reviews Things.

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Profile Image for Jessica Therrien.
Author 12 books497 followers
February 22, 2016
What? A new book by Kat Ross? Yep, and it's totally okay for you to freak out. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Feel better? ;)

Are you ready for me to super-rave about MIDNIGHT SEA and all its awesome? It's the kind of awesome you search for on the YA shelves at B&N. The kind of awesome you're just hooooping will sucks you in the way Hunger Games did or Divergent, whatever your poison...and then it's BETTER. THAT kind of awesome.

Feel free to judge it by its cover (To be revealed on Feb. 23rd)...go right ahead and do it. You won't be disappointed. I was such a lucky duck to be able to read this bad boy before it gets published.
Profile Image for Gelisvb.
338 reviews92 followers
September 1, 2017
Finally I have read this and I am very happy to have finally caved.this is not a hyped book, but it should be. I have read nothing but good reviews for this.And for once well deserved.
It starts like every Ya ever, but it's full of Persian mythology and historical facts. The plot is interesting and the characters are all gray. For example the Mc struggle for a good part of the book against her prejudices and not all the things she does are always likable. I also enjoyed the romance, even if I have to admit that some criticism I have read about it does not miss the mark by far. Still I like them and I ship them.
This is ya with characters of 19 and 20 years. Several characters have disabilities and several eastern cultures are represented.
Also some supportive characters destined to be main one are Alexander the Great and Zarathustra.
Profile Image for Stacey Kym.
394 reviews15 followers
May 14, 2016
ARC kindly provided by Kat Ross in exchange for an honest review.


‘The Midnight Sea’ is my first novel by the lovely authoress Kat Ross. And BOY does she write compelling, thriving blurbs! It was the blurb that captured me first! (Have you read it? Go read it!) And the cover SECOND! My opinions and expectations for the first novel in 'The Fourth Elements' series were HIGH. With what the Kat Ross gave to her future-readers in the blurb: I think I had already mentally rated it a five star.
The beginning was just superb. It reeled me in like a hook and kept me gripped by its talons until the end. It was such a great beginning and it slowly ascended to the BANG you expect within the chapter.
Don't start me on the writing! Oh. My. Gosh. It. Is. Awesome. Great. Poetic. Incredible. Seriously, this is probably some of the best writing I have come across. It flowed smoothly like a stream and gushed and swirled like a river during the most epic of moments. There was no awkward phrasing which would draw away from the story. Better yet, the prose was fantastic. It wasn’t used meaninglessly or to fill in the pages: it actually gave you a deeper understanding of the beautiful world the authoress had created.
Character development and evolvement was SOOOOO good! I am a reader who thirsts for realistic characters and when they are poorly constructed or designed: there is no me. Or rather, a very frustrated, low-rating me. Every character, be they minor or major, was fully developed and rendered on the page in such great detail that it was impossible not to fall in love with them.
The main character, Nazafareen, was established so well. Within a couple of sentences I felt as if I had known her forever. She was tough, hardy and loyal. Determined, resilient and passionate. The list of her great qualities could go on and on. But the best thing? She was flawed and very, very, VERY real! I couldn't have hoped for a better lead for the series!
The story is written in first person, and whilst it's not my favourite type of narration of the three, it was a good decision. I, as a reader, always feel as if first person narrative is a tricky little thing when writing. If used correctly, it can effectively utilise the problems of first person (such as the clouded judgement the reader receives due to the bias of the character) and twist it around so that the plot was full and rich. On the other hand, it can offer so little and make the story so average and non-consequential that reading from the character's perspective would be unappealing and just...meh. But no. Kat Ross has obvious skill and she used it to write a fantastic work of fiction. I received insight and depth to the story in such quality that it amazed me and DEMANDED that I pick up the sequels in the series!
Setting and world development was gorgeous and beautiful and spectacular and marvellous and outrageous and outstanding...and I have officially run out of words to describe how good it was. Kat Ross has chosen to set her novel in a specific time period: the collapse of the Archaemenid Empire, around 330 B.C. Confused? Think King Xerxes. I loved how well everything was thought through and that there were no gaping holes: major or minor. Everything had its place and I felt like the novel deserved a really good map to go along with the story. Most of the names for the places the author created were made up but according to her, they roughly correlate to a map of the Persian Empire. The Midnight Sea is the Back Sea, the Salenian Sea is the Caspian, and the Middle Sea is, of course, the Mediterranean. I thought this was just brilliant!
Talking about names. I loved the variety introduced by Kat Ross with her multitude of characters. Some were incredibly unique and others were familiar but included a twist. I am always – and will always be – a sucker for complicated/unpronounceable character names!
Congratulations to Kat Ross on publishing her stunning debut novel, 'The Midnight Sea'! I can’t wait for 'Blood of the Prophet'!

Rating Plan
1 star : Strongly did not like the book, writing and plot was bad. Idea of the book was against my liking.
2 star : Didn't like it, didn't find it interesting or gripping. Seemed to drag on to me.
3 star : An average book. Wasn't bad or good. Everything else was well done. Original idea.
4 star : Like a 3 star but has potential to it as a series or the book grew on me as it progressed and certain scenes captured me. I Enjoyed it and read it in one sitting.
5 star : I LOVED IT! I stayed up late until 3 am. Author is a genius, characters, plot, idea, development, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT. Nothing else can possibly be said except that its 5 STAR!
Profile Image for Erika (The Nocturnal Fey).
143 reviews122 followers
May 10, 2016
Full review can be read at The Nocturnal Fey


*I received a review copy for a Blog Tour. It didn't, in any way, affect my review*

When I saw the cover of The Midnight Sea, I was immediately fascinated. It was stunning! I was both excited and nervous to read the book because when I read books with stunning covers, I expect just the same greatness of story within.

Kat Ross didn't fail her readers. The Midnight Sea was a brilliantly written story that every Greek period and Middle Eastern history lovers will definitely love.

Honestly, I had no idea what The Midnight Sea was about when I joined this blog tour. I didn't even read the blurb or the reviews. This is usually the kind of reader I am; I want going blind, I want something that will surprise me. I want something that will make me go like "Oooh" and "Aaah" just by reading few pages from the start, and Kat Ross was able to accomplish that.

Kat Ross was a great storyteller. At some point, I thought her narrations were too lengthy and I got worried that it might bore me, but it didn't happen. The more information she feeds me with her narrations, the more I get intrigue.

One of the things I like about The Midnight Sea was Kat Ross' beautiful crafting of her characters. If any, I liked Nazafareen, a lot. She's nothing like those we use to see on YA novels, whiny and annoying heroine. Nazafareen was very complex, she has a very likable attitude, and the best of all --- she's a real warrior.

I also liked the side characters, Tijah, even Ilyas (even though I came too hate him too soon. lol), and their bonded daēvas, Tommas, Myrri and Darius. They all have different attitudes, but they work well on their own ways.

The world-building and the use of magical element were done so greatly. I experienced extreme coldness in the snowy mountains, I experience sandstorm on a very sunny desert, I experience to sail on a large body of water, and I was able to see different kind of empires and their people. Add to it the real magic of this world --- the elements. The daēvas have elemental powers except for fire because it kills them. Their masters, or their bonded humans hold their powers.

The relationship between a human and his/her daēva was supposed to be more of a master-slave relationship. But Tijah and Myrri treat each other like real sisters and Nazafareen became closer with her bonded, Darius, as years pass by while they're together hunting Druj. The bonded pair feel each other's emotions, and even physical senses and pain.

The romance didn't happen too soon. Do you hate insta-love? Well, you gotta love the romance here! I immediately knew who will be Nazafareen's love interest here, but it amused me how the romance didn't happen too soon. When I say not too soon, I mean years pass by before they both became aware of their feelings --- you know, just like what normal strangers would spend to get to know each other well and end up in a different kind of relationship (romantic). It was really refreshing. And when Darius and Nazafareen finally crumbled their walls, I. DIED.

Okay, now now. I know that this review is getting too lengthy, so before you get bored, this is my final thought....

The Midnight Sea was very unexpected in a lot of ways. This is the kind of fantasy novel that you wouldn't want to wait for months or a full year, at worst, for the sequel to get into your hands. Because right now, what I only want is to have the 2nd book already (which is coming out later this year!). Come to me darling!
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