Caro Oresteia spent her life waiting to be called by the river god, as those in her family had been for generations. But when she’s swept away on an adventure to save the Akhaian royal prince, Markos, her destiny is sealed by the sea god instead.
For now, Caro is landlocked, helping Markos reclaim his throne after nearly his entire family was assassinated in a political coup. Without any financial or military support, Markos is desperate for allies, and Caro has fought off more than one attempt on his life. When a powerful Archon offers his army in exchange for Markos’s marriage to his daughter, Caro must choose: Her love for Markos, or the fate of Akhaia? And more importantly: How much is she willing to risk to defy the sea god’s wishes and chart her own course?
With shipwrecks, lost treasure, old and new enemies, dark magic, and breathtaking romance, Sarah Tolcser weaves another epic story about chasing your fate.
Note: This is the sequel to Song of the Current, which you can find my review here. It may contain slight spoilers!
Whisper of the Tide was a stunning sequel! I came in with high expectations, and was honestly ready to give it a 3 star midway through the book, no joke. What changed my mind? I could say that the events that happened were pretty awesome, or the resolution was sooo satisfying and lovely, or how the stuff that had me side-eyeing were properly addressed. But I think plain and simple, Tolcser breathed life into Caro’s character and made her resilient, flawed, and just great in general. I adored her from start to finish, mistakes and all. And I hope fans of the book come into Whisper of the Tide with an open mind and heart to Caro’s flaws.
The book follows Caro’s first person POV as she tries to help Markos overthrow the rule of Konto Theucinian, who has a strict regime as monarch (or Emparch, as they are called here). Both Markos and Caro are on Theucinian’s hitlist, and much of the action comes from assassination attempts and being on the run. Markos is trying to get supporters to place him on the throne, as his father was the Emparch and was killed when Theucinian took power, but many people call him the Pretender and are too afraid of Theucinian to support him. The interesting part of this particular plot is that it’s there, but not the main focus. Theucinian is a force that’s unseen throughout the book – his actions are done through other characters and thus made for an uneventful protagonist.
“‘When we make a promise to serve, sometimes that promise is hard to keep. Whether you serve a god or an Emparch.’ He nodded at me.
Caro’s life was flipped upside down after meeting Markos and getting embroiled in the politics of the land. She found out that she was one of the chosen by the sea goddess, even though she grew up calling for the river god. Additionally, she wants to explore and travel, but stays in the city near Markos to help him with his campaign. Because of this, doubt and restlessness emerges, creating a confused main character who doesn’t know where she fit in. I really enjoyed this particularly piece of introspection because it really made her stand out as a character, even as she puts up a strong and fierce front.
The plot thickens when Caro pushes Markos to marry another noble that will help him with his campaign. At the same time, she defies the sea goddess and becomes stranded in an island with an unlikely ally. Or is it enemy? With that, the fun begins.
“Three months ago I’d believed with every bone in my body that my fate was in the riverlands. I’d been wrong. Was this really fate… or the god attempting to manipulate me?”
I thought that I would really dislike the romance in this book. Both Caro and Markos don’t know what they want, and whether to sacrifice their lives over duty. Since she pushes him away, they aren’t together for the middle of the book and I low key got annoyed with him. BUT. But, when they meet again, things are in the open. Hidden schemes are unfolding and they – mainly Caro – has learned a lot since they last met. I love how the author really makes good use of dialogue and communication to sort their relationship out. Yes for no misunderstandings! And overall, I thought they were a great couple with sweet chemistry and complementing hearts full of adventure.
“Practicality had never been Markos’s strong point. He could stand there and make romantic proclamations all he wanted. Myself, I preferred the money.”
I really enjoyed the ending and how most plot points got wrapped up. Another great thing about this book was SOOO many women in power. It’s uncommon to see that in YA fantasies, and I loved seeing all these talented, ruthless, and creative heroines here. This book also features: mistaken deaths, fearsome sea monsters, a map to a long-lost treasure, and the taste of the sea. Tolcser writes a timeless ocean adventure that wanderlust readers will devour.