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Sweet Black Waves #1

Sweet Black Waves

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Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what's right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she's ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

448 pages, Hardcover

First published June 5, 2018

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About the author

Kristina Pérez

7 books294 followers
Kristina Pérez is the author of THE MYTH OF MORGAN LA FEY (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). She holds a PhD in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge.

Her debut YA Fantasy, SWEET BLACK WAVES––a Tristan and Iseult retelling––was published by Imprint/Macmillan on June 5th, 2018. The sequel, WILD SAVAGE STARS was published on August 27th, 2019. The conclusion to the trilogy, BRIGHT RAVEN SKIES will be released on August 25th, 2020.

Writing as K.K. Pérez, her first YA Sci-Fi, THE TESLA LEGACY was published by Tor Teen on March 12, 2019.

She is a literary agent at the Zeno Agency in London, UK representing adult, YA/MG, fiction and non-fiction.

I don't check in here often. If you'd like to get in touch, send me an email ;-)

kristinaperezwrites (at) gmail (dot) com

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5 stars
446 (26%)
4 stars
611 (36%)
3 stars
425 (25%)
2 stars
136 (8%)
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44 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 455 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,479 reviews29.7k followers
October 18, 2019
i am so conflicted right now. on one hand, this story is really enjoyable to read. i have a weak spot for forbidden romances and the notion of “love conquers all,” so i was really into this. but then the last chapter happened and i now feel completely and whole-heartedly betrayed.

i have heard of tristan and isolde, but im not familiar with the details of the tale. after throwing my book across the room in anger, i quickly googled it and found out the last chapter is true to the story of T&I. had i known this beforehand, i might have been better prepared to handle the ending emotionally. but wow. im still so bitter about it.

i really dont want this to ruin how i felt about the vast majority of the book, but goodness me. that ending really sucked. and its not even the books fault, so i cant really penalise it. ughhhh.

i mean, its obviously a testament to the quality of the story itself if ive become so invested in the characters that i am devastated over something like this. so just take my four stars and i guess i will have to pick up the sequel to see if everything gets resolved. it better, or so help me…

4 stars
Profile Image for Jessica.
563 reviews775 followers
July 13, 2018
I received this book for free as part of BookSparks’ YA Summer Reading Challenge.

Omg this was so amazing! I don’t know why people aren’t talking about this book. This could have totally been one of those super hyped YA books.

This is a retelling of the popular Tristan and Iseult myth, which I have to admit, I’ve never even heard of. So going into this book I didn’t have any expectations about the retelling aspect since I knew nothing about the story. I went into the book completely blind as to what might happen. I wanted to be completely surprised by it.

What I got was a roller coaster of a story. This book took me on a wild ride and I loved every second of it. It was beautiful yet tragic.

For some reason, the book reminded me a lot of the CW show, Reign. The mood and atmosphere were somewhat similar, but mainly the sense of duty that Branwen had to her land reminded me a lot of the women on that show.

description

I loved the blend of fantasy and royalty. It was a very ethereal combination.

The writing style is wonderful. Kristina Perez spins a beautifully written tale that is just as magical as the story itself.

Since this is the first book in a trilogy, a lot of this book was set up, but it was still very enjoyable to read. I still found it to be very exciting and I was throughly engaged the entire time.

I loved the notes that the author included at the end about the language used and the source material. You can tell a lot of research went into writing this book so I appreciate that. The author even included a glossary and a list of the characters which made reading this book so easy. There is also a map but I had an ARC so mine didn’t have it but I’ve seen it in a preview and the map is gorgeous.

Overall, I was blown away by this book and will definitely be continuing the trilogy. If you’re looking for a new spellbinding YA fantasy series, then read this!
509 reviews2,426 followers
August 7, 2018
A very realistic conversation between me and this book

Me: Feuding kingdoms, you say?

Sweet Black Waves: Oh, yes! But let me warn you that at least the first 70% of this book is just about Branwen blushing at her crush, who is--gasp!--the enemy.

Me: WELL I DO LOVE ROMANCE. Not too much, though... Anyway, this does feature a super awesome girl friendship, right?

Sweet Black Waves: More like martyrdom. Branwen does make some stupid decisions for the sake of her cousin, the princess Eseult, who is, by the way, the most childish princess you'll ever meet.

Me: *gets really iffy* How about the magic? The synopsis says something about powers growing beyond control! I've even prepared my evil laugh for all the defeating-evil-with-magic scenes!

Sweet Black Waves: There is some, yes. A little bit. Every now and then...

Me: *71% through the book* Yup, that's it. I'm done. 🤷🏻

[DNF @ 71%]

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Profile Image for Vic James.
Author 5 books701 followers
October 19, 2017
I want to sail away on those sweet black waves! Sail away to romance and wild magic and chivalrous tournaments and shipwrecks and ... oh yes ... danger and disaster and HEARTBREAK. (Wait, wait... no-one warned me about the heartbreak *sobs*)

I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this fabulous book, and it is so INTENSE and SWOONY and SMART. Just like its protagonists, Branwen and Tristan. And if you're wondering where you've heard that name before, it's because this is a retelling of the Tristan & Iseult legend set in 'dark-ages' Ireland.

This version centers Branwen, cousin and attendendant to the princess, as heroine, and she's a girl its a delight to spend time with. Both dutiful and wild, equally at home with magic and diplomacy, she must serve both the Land and the desires of her own heart. But what will she do if forced to choose between them?

Author Pérez trained as a medieval historian and linguist, and it shows - the worldbuilding is utterly convincing. But her imagination pushes further, into caves with magic cauldrons, and doldrum seas, where something nasty might crawl out of the those sweet black waves, bent on revenge.

And the ending. Goddammit THAT ENDING. You will throw your book across the room - in a good way. Don't say I didn't warn you.
October 8, 2021

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DNF @ 15%



The sequel is on sale today so I thought it was probably time to pick up SWEET BLACK WAVES from my Kindle and give it the ol' college try. I bought it because of the sumptuous Gothic cover and the fact that it was a fairytale retelling of sorts: a reimagining of Tristan and Iseult.



This is mostly a case of "it's not you, it's me." The writing is perfectly fine, and about what you would expect in a basic YA fantasy novel: a bit bland, ornamental in the way that people typically expect of fantasy books. There is insta-love, which is true to the legend I guess but doesn't really add any new depth to the story. I just found myself sitting here, waiting for action, or emotional engagement, and found neither.



I do not think this book is for me.



1.5 to 2 stars
Profile Image for kath.
75 reviews266 followers
June 28, 2018
ODAI ETI AMA
I hate and I love


I loved so many elements of this Tristan and Isolde retelling, particularly those to do with the Celtic inspired mythology and magic. The story notwithstanding, I could walk around in this coastal setting of medieval Ireland and experience the whimsy of Otherworld creatures and magical lore all day. It’s a hauntingly beautiful backdrop to an age-old story.

Being familiar with the story of Tristan and Isolde, I was expecting plenty of melancholy romance and my expectations were met on that account. I wasn’t prepared for how devastating the ending would be, however. I could sense things spiralling out of control toward the end, but like a punch in the gut, it took my breath away at the very last. I’m still a little dumbfounded and now I must know how everything resolves because it’s just downright not fair to end a book like that, thank you very much.

My only wish for this book is that there was MORE. More descriptive sentences and more subtlety, more nuanced relationship development. I continuously felt like I wanted to squeeze something from the book that wasn’t being delivered and it left me feeling a little unsatisfied.

It’s a highly promising start to a new trilogy and I’ll certainly be waiting to see how this story untangles in book two.

Thank you to the publisher for sending a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
951 reviews1,223 followers
June 5, 2018

Title: Sweet Black Waves
Series: Sweet Black Waves #1
Author: Kristina Pérez
Release date: May 5, 2018
Cliffhanger: Yes

Time stood still. There was no blood or fire, no Iveriu or Kernyv. There was only this-only this kiss.

I've been trying to figure out what to rate this book ever since I finished yesterday, and I think that deep down I want to rate this one star, but I can't bring myself to do it. The writing is truly captivating and masterfully done, and for the quality alone it deserves five stars. This is what keeps bouncing back and forth in my brain, and I can't seem to come up with a decision for either that seems fair. What I do know is that you can't read this book and feel nothing. It's a tragic nightmare wrapped inside of a heavenly dream. It's royalty, pirates, magic, secrets, ill fated love, and icy foreboding like a chill down your spine. With each page, the tension ratchets until you're at an unbearable level. It's not a matter of if something bad will happen, it's when.

The story starts out innocently enough, with a blissfully romantic attraction to a stranger who washes up on shore. Delivered by those deceptively sweet black waves. This attraction quickly turns to despair after discovering that this dashing man who recites poems and looks at her with longing is her kingdom's enemy. He is from Kernyv, whom her people bitterly feud with. His countrymen were responsible for her parents' murder, so you can see why she is torn about helping this man who hides out on her shores. But after some time, there is a softening of her pride and barriers. She sees beyond prejudices and long standing hatred, and he fills her with a pure love that she never could have anticipated. And I felt their passion. Their desire to let the world fall away and sit in their own private corner and pretend that tomorrow wasn't going to bring heartache.

Tantris brought something alive inside her. Something that couldn't be contained. True love was more powerful than death or dishonor.

In the beginning, Lady Branwen was the most mature out of the two cousins, always watching over her princess Eseult and trying to keep her out of trouble in a maternal way. However, as the book wore on, I began to get very frustrated with both girls. Eseult most of all, as her childish and self-centered behavior was revealed in full color. You would see glimpses of a loyalty and love that she tried to express, but they were short and insufficient to convince me that she deserved the devotion that Branwen bestowed upon her. She was bratty, churlish, and unable to forgive anyone for the duty she was expected to fulfill. At one point, she was even willing to sacrifice her life in order to save Branwen, but even that didn't redeem her. She proved with her defiant actions in the end that her own happiness was the only thing of importance.

As Essie became the symbol for uniting their two kingdoms in peace, her impulses threatened that fragile tie to snap at any moment. Branwen progressively started to make rash and foolish decisions as she tried to keep the engagement from falling apart. So much heartache and despair could have been prevented if she had just decided to trust the man she supposedly loves and was honest with him! Her secrets, her plotting to solve everything all on her own (despite being strongly advised NOT to) made me scream at my kindle in frustration. Her unbending loyalty to her cousin was like an albatross weighing down every decision she made. And as she was entrusted with powers from the Otherworld, there were hints of darkness fighting to come out.

Here's the thing: I was along for this ride and loving every minute, even when times started getting tough. The angst and suspense was pulling me along by my shirt collar, and I was running trying to keep up. And then the ending happened.

That.

Ending.


That ending that ripped out my heart, threw it in a blender, and made a milkshake of destruction out of it. I was enraged. I'm STILL raving mad and wishing I could rewind time, and smack myself silly for doing this to myself. WHY?! THIS COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED! Truth, honesty, transparency...TRUST! And yet the one victim who had their free will taken away was blamed and discarded! Out of everybody, only Tristan was pure of heart and caught in this tempest that he had nothing to do with. From the beginning to the end, I loved him. In the end, his loss hurt me the most.

Not one book comes to mind that came close to making me as angry as this one, and yet it would be wrong of me to say I hated this story. That would be careless and simply untrue. But I think it's going to take me a long time to get over this ending, and right now as I'm still recovering in this moment...my rage wins out. With the revelations that were unearthed, Wild Savage Stars promises to be another bumpy ride. Do I really want to willingly seat myself into the madness again? This is a trilogy, and for once, I'm thinking that all three books will be necessary in order to complete this story. The hopelessness we were left with seems insurmountable. Call me crazy, but I don't think I'm going to be able to resist seeing how this all plays out.

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Profile Image for Lexi.
158 reviews2 followers
December 8, 2017
It’s 330 am i am sitting at work trying not to cry or tear my heart out because this book completely ruined me. I felt as sick as branny did at the end, when it all just went down. This story was beautiful, haunting, horribly heartbreaking and genuinely amazing. The love between cousins turned sisters made me believe in family. The love tantris found with emer was exciting, and the love that bloomed between Tristan and Brawen was passionate and bold.

I really hope there will be a second book. My poor heart cannot handle that being the final ending.
Profile Image for Christine Spoors.
Author 1 book447 followers
August 7, 2018
I picked up a copy of Sweet Black Waves at YALC 2018 so that I could meet the author, I am so glad I did because this is now one of my favourite books of the year.

This is a fantasy retelling of Tristan and Iseult, which I have to admit I haven't read. It follows Branwen, the cousin and lady-in-waiting to the Princess. In this world two kingdoms, Iveriu (Ireland) and Kernyv (Cornwall), are at war and their feud has shaped the lives of every character. I won't say much about the plot because it's best to go in knowing nothing, but I absolutely loved the pacing and found this book so difficult to put down!

I really liked Branwen, who's POV we see the story from. She makes some rash decisions as she struggles to do what is right for everyone and I really felt for her. The romance in this story could probably be classed as "instalove" but, unusually for me, I absolutely loved it from the moment the characters first met. I found the Princess to be a little frustrating at times, but it was great to see a character struggling with anxiety, so I must say a light Trigger Warning for hair pulling & self-harm.

My favourite thing about this story was definitely the folklore. I loved the mix of celtic folklore woven throughout and the way the Otherworld played a big part in the story. I now just can't wait to read the next book in the series, Wild Savage Stars, 2019 feels so far away!
Profile Image for Taryn.
1,199 reviews188 followers
July 4, 2018
I was totally bought into Sweet Black Waves from the first page, and not only did I never want to put it down, I never knew what was going to happen next! That’s partly because I was unfamiliar with the story of Tristan and Isolde (on which the book is based), but also because the story is SO CRAZY. It has the twists and turns of a soap opera with the weighty feel of an epic. So basically, everything I want.

Branwen is actually the main character here, cousin and handmaiden to Princess Eseult (called Essy because she shares the name with her mother, the queen). Branwen is training as a healer and saves a guy’s life, but it turns out he’s from the enemy nation across the sea. Thus it’s too bad they fall completely in love with each other as she’s nursing him back to health in a secret cave (no, that’s not a euphemism). There’s no way they can be together, right? Well, we’ll see…!

Added bonus, this book has the nerdiest end matter I’ve ever seen in a YA novel. Kristina Pérez is a scholar of medieval literature, and if you want to test her qualifications, just check out her explanation of how she cobbled together elements of various ancient languages to create the different languages spoken by her characters. Because if you’re going to the trouble of writing a novel, you might as well go ahead and dream up some new vocabularies to go along with it, right? Pérez is decidedly not the kind of author to half-ass things like worldbuilding.

I loved this story so much I looked up the film version, thinking it would be fun to see another interpretation, but sadly it stars James Franco, sooooo I think I’ll call it good with just the book.

More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com
Profile Image for Breanna.
481 reviews167 followers
May 25, 2018
THIS REVIEW & MORE → Paws and Paperbacks

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

“Odai eti ama. I hate and I love.”

When I talk about how I want more books based on Celtic mythology and Irish folklore, this is what I’m talking about. As soon as I saw that this was a retelling of Tristan and Iseult, I knew immediately that I needed to read it. Sweet Black Waves was everything I could have asked for and more.

There is so much to love about this book. To start, the world-building and setting was stunning. You can tell that Kristina Pérez is very knowledgable in this area, and the way she wove fantasy elements with history was fantastic. Her writing was absolutely breathtaking; it was lush, descriptive, and dreamy. At first I found the plot to be moving along a little too slowly for my likely, but then I found out this was going to be a trilogy and in retrospective I think the pacing is actually perfect.

“The pale late-autumn sun hit the water just right and the waves turned black. She rubbed her palm and closed her eyes. No one would sing songs of Branwen’s lost love.”

Since I know the story of Tristan and Iseult inside and out, I had pretty much figured how this book would end. That still didn’t keep me from hoping the author might go in a different direction, but then IT happened and my heart broke into a million pieces. I suffered the distinct feelings of wanting to curl on the floor weeping and also wanting to toss my book kindle across the room simultaneously. My heart broke so hard for poor Branwen after that scene and my stomach is still a knot of angst thinking about it. That ending was cruel and unnecessary and I seek reparations.

Sweet Black Waves is a wonderful fantasy full of Celtic mythology, Irish legends, love, angst, friendship, heartbreak, magic, and adventure. I’m so looking forward to the next book in the series and following Branwen on her continued quest to ensure peace, and dealing with the repercussions from that ending. This is a must read for those who love medieval Irish settings or are fans of Tristan and Iseult!

Profile Image for Rebecca Denton.
Author 3 books36 followers
February 14, 2018
If this is the year of historical fiction, then look no further than this book. The author has the creds and it shows. Gloriously detailed and fabulous prose. A cracker of a debut.
Profile Image for Ann (annreads).
243 reviews312 followers
October 18, 2018
“They loved while they burned and they burned while they loved.”

Excuse me while I cry in a corner because of what tHIS book did to me *crawls into fetal position*

*Review to come*

3,75/5★★★★
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,544 reviews2,931 followers
June 21, 2018
* I was given this book by the author in exchange for an honest review *

I am happy to say that this book, which I wasn't sure I would like, turned out to be one which I really enjoyed. I wasn't quite sure what this one was about when I was given it, although I did get the impression that there would be romance and magic, warring kindoms and more. I am happy to say, there are indeed all of those ingredients, but also that it's got a relationship between two female cousins and their friendship and love for one another was heartwarming.

This story follows two main characters, the Princess Esse and Branwen, her cousin and lady's maid. The two of them are basically as close as sisters, having both been mostly raised by Esse's mother after Branwen's parents were killed in the war. The two of them have always been there for each other, helping the other stay out of trouble, and being there for one another when the other was hurting.

We pick up the story when Branwen is learning to become a healer, and Esse is closer to taking on her role as Queen. Esse doesn't like the rigid ideas surrounding being the queen, and in fact she's quite rebellious whereas Banwen is a 'good girl' and always follows the rules. However, one day Branwen finds a man washed up on the beach and it turns out he's one of the enemies, from this point onwards Branwen cares for the man, and she knows if she is caught looking out for the enemy then she will be in firm trouble.

Alongside the story of the warring nations and the politics between them we have the story of the cousins, their hearts and heartbreak, and also Old Gods and magic. Magic is something of a rarity in this world for most, but Branwen seems to have a touch of it and as she grows and learns more seems to seep through.

There is influence from an Irish legend in this, and the Celtic inspiration was clear throughout the story.

Overall, the book started a little slow, but the second half was a lot better and I felt that I got quite into the action. There are some predictable parts, and there is a lot of romance at points, but it's fun and likeable and I enjoyed it a lot in the end. 4*s from me.
Profile Image for Rê .
455 reviews56 followers
June 4, 2018
description

3.5. "Sea and Magic" Stars

ARC via NetGalley.

Thank you, Imprint

I'm not very familiar with the tale Tristan & Iseult, so I won't comment on that. Still, if you're like me, I'm sure you'll still find plenty to enjoy while reading this story.

For me, Sweet Black Waves gave me its best during the first half, especially the first third of the story. There world was described in beautiful details, the main character (Branwen) struggled with what she thought right and wrong and still managed to do the right thing, the love interest won my heart as he stole hers, the relationship between Branwen and her cousin Essy had some truly adorable moments, and all was well in the world.

Speaking of the world...Despite going with some big fantasy tropes, the author still managed to create a world that felt interesting and rich. The hatred between the people of Iveriu and the people of Kernyv served as a great background not only to the love story, but also to what seems to be the theme for the rest of the trilogy. We didn't get to see much of Kernyv, but Iveriu seemed like a beautiful place. No wonder Branwen was willing to do anything to protect it.

Now, things started getting a little weird for me when the magic system kicked in. There was nothing particularly wrong with the magic, but it influenced the plot and the characters in a way that annoyed me. Branwen started making some dubious choices that were clearly going to come back and haunt her. Her obsession with saving her country and playing with what she judged was her cousin's hapiness went way too far. To make matters worse, her cousin, Essy went from spoiled to OMG, please, someone shake some sense into this girl ASAP. Even the romance lost some of its sparkle, and let me tell you, it was a pretty swoony romance.

Not even pirates coming into the scene had the intended effect on me, which is something I never thought I'd say because PIRATES!

description

Then the big twist in the end happened and all I could think was, "Well, Branwen, you brought that on yourself, didn't you?", which shouldn't have been my reaction because the thing was pretty heartbreaking.

I'm afraid the second half of the story wasn't as rich, romantic and interesting as the first, but I'm still interested in learning what will happen next in the trilogy.
Profile Image for Kelly deVos.
Author 7 books311 followers
April 4, 2018
A gorgeous, sometimes sweet, sometimes steamy retelling, SWEET BLACK WAVES retains enough of the original Tristan & Iseult storyline to appeal to fans but has so many original elements that something totally new and surprising has been created. I sat down to read a bit before going to bed and finished the book in one setting. Come for the romance, the pirates and the adventure on the seas and stay for the rich, lush fantasy world created by Pérez.
Profile Image for Milena.
713 reviews78 followers
July 31, 2019
Sweet Black Ways is a romantic and beautifully written retelling of Tristan and Iseault's myth. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was swept away by the atmospheric setting, and a swoony but heartbreaking romance. Even after I finished reading the book, I couldn't stop thinking about Bronwen, Tristan and Eseault! I can't wait to read the next book, Wild Savage Stars!

*ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for D.J..
215 reviews89 followers
April 20, 2018
Lush and atmospheric, Sweet Black Waves is a work of magic. Pérez's writing is captivating and readers will immediately be consumed by Branwen's story. There's romance and heartache, secrets and danger—and all of it adds up to a splendid debut novel. I can't wait to see what happens next!
Profile Image for Nikki.
308 reviews234 followers
June 20, 2018
?????????

That’s it that’s my entire review of the book
Profile Image for Kristen.
436 reviews547 followers
February 17, 2018
This was really wonderful but MEAN! It totally stressed me out and that ending! Ahhhhhh! I need book 2 and hopefully it isn’t so mean to my feels
Profile Image for Eleanor (bookishcourtier).
541 reviews110 followers
September 21, 2018
I really liked this one! I do have a couple of mixed feelings about it, but overall it was so good! If you love Celtic mythology, or any kind of mythology really, this book is for you. It feels so lush and refreshing and there is so much to appreciate about it! And look at that cover! I swoon! Look, I never judge books by their cover. nEVEr… But I feel like this book encompasses the story and setting so perfectly! I cannot wait to see what the next book looks like, because I will definitely be buying it.

T H O U G H T S

- I guess I should start with my one gripe with this book, so that we can forget about it by the end. I did think that the writing was a little juvenile in places, and maybe not the most elegant. That is the main thing that held me back from giving this a five star rating, which is sad because I really did love lots of things about this. I can only hope and expect that the author's writing will get better as she creates more books, which is likely, as this a debut novel. I just felt that it then kind of made the characters feel a little juvenile, as it told me a lot of their feelings, rather than showing them, but it didn't cast too much shadow on my enjoyment of the rest of this book.

- OK, so onto the delights! I loved the characters! Branwen was pretty straight forward, and I'm not sure how to describe her in a way that doesn't make her sound boring. She is sensible (although she does the most STUPID THING AND IT RUINED EVERYTHING OMG ) but I did really enjoy reading from her perspective. And I love how freaking OPEN she was with her aunt! Like, if she had a problem, she told her about it! Please can more YA characters have an open relationship with their parent/guardian? Because it was so nice to see that, and it made me feel so happy because I have a really open relationship with my parents, so it annoys me when YA characters tell them NOTHING. I also want to talk about Essy. I feel like a lot of people are going to hate her, and I can see why. She is pretty spoilt and can be petulant and selfish. But I think she is a very well done character, because I think people will see a lot of themselves in her (I DID), even if it isn't positive traits. I also really related to her feelings of feeling entirely alone, and that no one knew how she felt, and that no one loved her even though deep down she knows they do. So at a glance, she is hateful, but there is a lot in her, and I enjoyed that.

- I also loved the whole world and concept. It is based on the legend of Tristan and Iseult/Isolde (spellings vary). I had actually never heard of this legend before, but I researched it before reading this novel and it sounded like one of those typical romantic legends that everyone loves and I thought it could translate to such a great book. And it did! Especially the ending of the book - and that cliffhanger was cruel by the way - and I want to see where rest of the series is going to go! I'm so excited! The world felt really lush and real and I love the Celtic influences! I really love Celtic mythology and that period of time in history, so it was so nice to read about it in a fantasy book. And it was interesting as well because in the authors note Kristina Perez mentions that one of the kingdoms is supposed to represent Ireland and one of them Cornwall which was interesting as well!

I seriously recommend this one for fantasy lovers, and even if you aren't so into fantasy you might like this one because it based more on myths and legends. I think it was really different in lots of ways to books I've read before, and the ending was so good! I just wants to read the next book! And I just hope that the writing has been polished off in that one, so I can unleash the fullness of my gush!
Profile Image for Kathy Martin.
3,292 reviews73 followers
May 6, 2018
Branwen is an orphan who is the niece of the queen and the best friend and lady-in-waiting to her cousin Princess Eseult. She is mostly treated as another daughter of the queen and the princess's sister. Her parents were killed by the Kernyvaks and she has grown up with a hatred for them.

When she rescues and heals a young sailor, she is dismayed to learn that he is Kernyvak. She is torn between her vows as a healer and her own hatred. Gradually she falls in love with the young man but, when raiders come to find him, she encourages him to get to safety before soldiers from her country can find him. She thinks she will never see him again.

Meanwhile, the king has decided to hold a tournament for Princess Eseult's hand since she can't rule and the country needs a strong man to be her husband. Eseult, Essy to her family, is not on board with this plan. She is spoiled and self-absorbed and wants to choose her own husband. Naturally, she fixes her mind on a very unsuitable man. Branwen's rescued sailor, now revealed as Prince Tristan of Keryvak, is there to compete in the tournament as the champion for his uncle King Marc.

When treachery threatens his life, Branwen has to call on the magical heritage that she didn't really believe in to heal him. This magical heritage changes so much for Branwen and puts one more barrier between her and her cousin who didn't inherit it.

I liked the worldbuilding in this fantasy debut. I liked Branwen who was becoming a strong woman willing for fight for her homeland. The one thing I couldn't quite believe was Branwen's loyalty to Essy who didn't deserve her regard. Momentary kindness and charm wasn't enough to make her deserving of Branwen's loyalty and love.

The story is said to be loosely based on the medieval tale of Tristan and Iseult. Most of this story was the build-up to the key events of that tale. I look forward to reading more in this trilogy.
Profile Image for Teresa.
790 reviews12 followers
January 15, 2018
Seriously ugly cry at the end of this book...I won't even try to lie or make excuses all I can say is that Kristina Perez broke my heart into several pieces and I am still trying to pick all of them up.
Branwen is lady in waiting to her cousin, the princess, and the only thing Branwen loves more than Eseult is her country. When Branwen finds an enemy half dead, she chooses to help him, even though she hates his country; but as we all know more often than not love finds a way and pretty soon Branwen and Tristan are falling for each other.
Torn between loyalty to her heart and her country, Branwen strugges to find peace; especially when her cousin's hand in marriage is the prize for a tournament. Magic, did I forget to mention that, abounds in this land and pretty soon Branwen learns that she was some magic in her.
I can't go on enough about how much I loved this book....I picked it up and read it in one sitting that is how much Perez captured me with this intriging story of Branwen, Eseult and Tristan but holy mother of god that ending slayed me....it killed me...
Thanks to Macmillan for the ARC!
Profile Image for Pamela Sparkman.
Author 8 books285 followers
April 28, 2018
Sweet Black Waves. I feel like I’ve been floating on sweet black waves ever since I finished this book. It’s been about two weeks now. Or maybe it’s been three. I’ve lost count to be perfectly honest. You see, I’ve been avoiding it, hiding from it. I didn’t want to think about it because it left me broken hearted...wounded beyond repair. But let me back up to the beginning.

I approached Sweet Black Waves without knowing much about it. I read the synopsis and was intrigued, and the cover caught my eye. I received an arc through Netgalley. I thought I would wait a bit before diving in…get caught up on a few things first, but something about the book kept calling to me, so one quiet night I sat down and began to read.

You know when you meet someone and there’s just something about them, something that makes you stare just a little longer, or maybe it’s the sound of their voice that draws you in. Maybe it’s just the way they smile at you, but it’s something they possess that makes you linger, that makes you stay and want to get to know them. This book was like that. It possessed something that made me linger, that made me stay. I wanted to get to know it. It spoke to me like an old friend, and like any good friend, I listened to the story it told with quiet fascination. At times, I was like a child curled at the foot of her mother with wide eyes, clutching at her hem, begging to know more. And other times, I wanted to leave the room, politely excuse myself, because there was a heaviness in the air. I found it hard to breathe the deeper I crept into the book. My chest, it ached, and I didn’t know why exactly. It just did. But I couldn’t walk away. This book was my friend now. When I wasn’t reading I was thinking about it. I was attached to Branwen so deeply. I felt her in my very bones. From the start, she and I were on this journey together and when she fell in love, I fell in love right along with her.

And when her heart broke…my heart also broke.

Here we are…. two, maybe three weeks later…and I’m still broken…shattered…wounded beyond repair. I wanted to get up and scream at this book and say, “I wish I’d never met you! Look what you did to me!”

And yet…I remember how sweet it was in the beginning, how beautiful it all was, and I feel like I experienced something amazing, something wonderful. For that, I can’t be sorry. Yes, it broke my heart. Was the heartache worth it? I don’t know yet. I hope so. The story is not over. It is the first book in a trilogy. But for now, I’ll borrow the words from Tristan to describe how I feel about Sweet Black Waves

Odai eti ama.” I hate and I love.
Profile Image for Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard.
1,144 reviews243 followers
June 28, 2019
*walks into ocean with arms open crying*
IM NOT OKAY!
I KNEW IT WAS GONNA HAPPEN BUT I'M NOT OKAY
😭😭😭😭😭😭😭
Sidenote: one of my favourites of the year and most recent "sleep is for the weAk, just keep reading" books.

Oh dat romance and dat magic and OHHHH those pirates and Ugh that romance but ow my heart *clenches chest and dies until the sequel comes out*
Profile Image for Lena.
360 reviews261 followers
November 27, 2018
Definitely pick up this book if you like star-crossed lovers, a world with gods and magic, two cinammon roll main characters, and lots of adorable moments plus drama all in one.
I've always loved the tale of Tristan and Isolde and this retelling definitely does them justice, if in a slightly different way and sometimes all you need is some fluff to make you happy. This book did exactly that for me. I didn't even care about the plot, it's always been about these characters and their journey together. One side character annoyed the heck out of me, but that's a small inconvenience comapared to how I felt with the rest of the book.
Profile Image for Minni Mouse.
595 reviews949 followers
June 30, 2018
Tristan and Eseult retelling? With a Branwen twist? All I know is the 2006 film starring James Franco, and can't say no to that!

THE GOOD
1) I don't know how the original tale goes but if it's anything like the 2006 movie, I liked the twist of swapping Branwen into Eseult's place.

2) Lots of potential for readers to gobble this book right up since it has a little bit of everything young adult readers adore: romantic entanglements, medieval tournaments for lurve, enemies-turned-lovers stories, tragic and misunderstood romantic angst, monsters and adventures, and pirating.

THE BAD
1) Too bad the writing itself is merely ordinary. It lacks the punch of a more mature author who could establish the fantasy medieval world building and instill a believability to the characters.

2) This isn't even a love triangle. It's just a complicated chain of teenage googly eyes.

3) The ending deeply saddened and disturbed me.

FINAL THOUGHTS
True, I sped-read and sped-skimmed this book in 1.5 hours so I probably missed a whole lot of the plot...but no regrets. Doesn't seem like I missed much.

The truth is I'm too old for this book. It reads fine, but at some point you get past the puppy love and surface level character development.
Profile Image for Alice.
287 reviews111 followers
October 22, 2018
3.5 - 4 stars

THIS BOOK IS INTELLECTUAL, Y'ALL. I'm upsetti but I don't regretti.

Ok this made me mad but it was supposed to make me mad I stayed up till 4 am to finish this and can I just say I sympathize with Branwen so hard but also did she not realize a love potion would backfire. Were there no folk songs about love potions for her to realize?

Overall, I enjoyed this book because I knew the cousin character was written to be purposely upsetting to garner Branwen more sympathy. However, I wish some of the magic would have been explained because there were a couple of logic jumps I couldn't keep up with regarding how Branwen's powers came to be. I wish this book came with Fairyloot instead of Heart of Thorns LOL.

My god, I think this book had almost everything going for it to earn my favor. It seems like Kristina Perez was trying really hard to get me to like this because:

- Branwen my girl is so level-headed, but you see her wanting to let loose because she's been wound up her entire life, but she can't because of her circumstnces. Seeing her grappling with the duty to her family and country and her love for Tristan was a delight to see. I will say the two complaints I have about this book are her never refusing Keane's affection (she liked the attention, ok? But he was bad news from the beginning tbh) and how her magical abilities were explained. Overall, she's one of my favorite MCs this year in YA fantasy. Branwen's relationships with her aunt, cousin and Tristan are all amazingly written.

- Tristan is a POC and the main love interest. The author has a PhD in medieval literature, and I'm so glad she went there and acknowledged that medieval Europe wasn't completely a loaf of white bread. This is a fantasy medieval historical type novel, so there wasn't really an excuse not to have people of color anywayyyy. Sweet Black Waves also covers immigration and how Tristan's family got to Kernyv with great nuance. I've never seen YA fantasy within recent memory cover immigration as well as this, so yay. Tristan's dialogue with Branwen was honestly so smooth I had to close the book on multiple occassions and just laugh at how audacious it was. I do hope the sequel delves more into his POV because that man is dedicated to his girl (except you know... in *that* chapter).

- That witty banter between Branwen and Tristan shook me. How dare Kristina Perez. *ahem* Dr. Perez. My aroace ass has certified this as good romance . Tristan/Branwen is so wholesome and naughty despite the whole lack of communication (hope they work on it next book) and love potion shit.

- The cousin character, Essy (Eseult Jr.) - I know she was written to be annoying and generally upsetting to make us sympathize more with Branwen and I loved and hated every minute of it. If you've ever known someone who takes everything you do for them for-granted and then complain saying *you* don't do enough for them, this is that person. Essy and Branwen's relationship is really fleshed out in addition to the Branwen/Tristan romance, and I'm glad Perez dedicated the page count she did to showing Branwen's devotion to her cousin and also her doubts about whether Essy truly would have her back if the situation were reversed. The amount of maneuvering Branwen has to do to do what's best for Essy (in her opinion) is astonishing and Essy is a huge brat and selfish af for fucking it up. That doesn't mean Essy herself doesn't have layers. I like how her sweet princess demeanor melts away when it comes to the hatred for Kernyv and Tristan, and her desire for freedom - it shows even the sweetest ones are capable of crock-shit. The miscommunication between Essy and Bran is so frustrating and satisfying at the same time, because it shows how much Essy is self-involved but also how much Branwen keeps secrets from the people she loves the most. No one's perfect in this situation and it's delicious.

- Cute magical fox mascot courtesy of the Old Ones (my aesthetic!!!)

- Fire and water/ice symoblism entrenched deep into the prose (my aesthetic!!!).

- Branwen's friggin' pearlescent moon blade (my aesthetic!!!). She used it to shank a binch. She's a healer and a fighter.

- The politics between Iveriu and Kernyv was so good. Both countries have done each other dirty, and the book consciously points out that continuing to perpetuate hatred against each other will ensure mutual destruction. Branwen has every reason to hate Kernyv, but so does Tristan. Their development as they come to value each other's cultures is a direct counter for Keane and Essy's hatred for Kernyv, which don't get checked, and you see the negative consequences of that. What I love about this book is that the reasons these countries are feuding are clear and navigating them is complex. This isn't just a cheeky set up background for a basic ass enemies-to-lovers romance that'll... unite the kingdoms and save the world from darkness and shit. There's even some mention of different religions between the countries that isn't [A has B religion and C has D religion]. The story goes out of its way to make a good setting, so kudos.

- Exploration on the ethics of love potions - I knew this was going to be a disaster the moment the subject of love potions was brought up. I was waiting and waiting for it to come into play, and the ancticipation of the inevitably still didn't prepare me for how much I'd be hurt by the ending. I honestly was taken aback at how Branwen reacted to when the love potion was used even though it was her idea to brew it in the first place and she didnt think to take any precautions with it. Then again, her beau got unknowingly love-potioned into committing some NTR, and she just snapped and ended it all in her anguish.



So yeah, I feel like this book was catered extremely well to my personal taste. The characters were great. The world building was great minus some of the magical elements needing more explanation. The romance was great, but if you prefer a straight-forward romance, the ending might frustrate you. If anything drags on, the Essy bullshit making Branwen angstier. I had really low expectations for Sweet Black Waves because I thought it'd be this typical enemies-to-lovers white bread Norse/Irish-inspired fantasy romance. To my surprise, this book exceeded my expectations in the best ways.

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Profile Image for Tracy (Cornerfolds).
568 reviews201 followers
June 13, 2018
Read more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com!

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

Sweet Black Waves caught my eye as soon as I saw that it was a retelling of Tristan and Eseult. I'll admit, my only other exposure to this story was the 2006 film Tristan and Isolde, starring James Franco... I had a rough idea of what the story was about and knew to expect instalove, so I went in willing to forgive that one trope that I usually despise.

Branwen is the heroine of this story. She's cousin of the princess and a healer-in-training, although she doesn't believe in the Old Ones or their magic. The story really begins once she finds a injured boy who has washed up on the beach, and takes it upon herself to heal him in private. Through a series of events, she finds out that he's her enemy, and their romance ensues. I'm pleased to report, however, that there is SO much more to Branwen's story than her instalove romance! Branwen was a wonderful, strong character, and probably one of the least annoying I've read about in awhile. I loved her relationships with her cousin and aunt, the queen, as well as watching her realize her power. That's not to say that she didn't make any dumb decisions, because she definitely did, but they're understandable dumb choices that I was willing to forgive.

I've mentioned briefly the other characters in this story, and I honestly loved almost all of them. Tristan is the enemy and love interest, and I fell in love with him as soon as he washed up on the beach! He was a little cheesy at times, but his loyalty was heartwarming and I can't wait to see more of him in book two. I also really adored the queen, Branwen's aunt, and loved her portrayal of a strong woman at the helm of a country. Her love for both Branwen and her daughter was unconditional and beautiful. Finally, there's Essy, Branwen's cousin and the one character I really couldn't stand for most of the book. She's young and incredibly selfish and stupid, although she did start to grow on me just a bit towards the end.

The setting of Sweet Black Waves is also fantastic! It felt both realistic and otherworldly, which I suppose fits pretty well with the story. The world the author has created is as easy to picture as a movie and the mythology was very well realized. I'm curious if the stories of the Old Ones and the Otherworld have roots in a real world mythology.

The one thing that wasn't perfect for me in this book was the story and the pace at which it moved. At nearly 500 pages, this book is long. Admittedly, there was a lot of information to fit into this book, but it did seem to drag at times and it took me a little longer than I would have liked to get through. Until the end I would have called it predictable, then the ending happened. There is a twist that literally made me sit up straight and caused my husband to ask what was wrong! I totally didn't see it coming and it immediately moved this book's rating back up to 4.5 stars.

Sweet Black Waves isn't a perfect book, but I loved it! Yes, there's instalove, but that's to be expected in a retelling of this particular story. It didn't diminish the romance in my opinion. I still came out loving both Branwen and Tristan! And there's a bright side: no love triangle! Although the story can get tedious at times, it's definitely worthwhile. I can't wait to read the next book in this series!
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