The Deepest Blue, by Sarah Beth Durst

So yesterday evening was the end of a crappy weekend in which nothing went well and the weather was ick and there were no tasty snacks, and I gave up trying to Do all the Things around 7:30 pm and started reading The Deepest Blue, by Sarah Beth Durst, because I really wanted to.  By 8:30 I was not quite halfway through and cursing daylight savings because clearly I'd be staying up late till I finished.  But I read with such happy absorption that it only took me till 9:30, and then I could go to bed at peace!  It's always so nice to be reminded of why exactly one labels oneself a Reader.

But enough about me.

The Deepest Blue is set in the same world as the Queens of Renthia series, a world of bloodthirsty spirits barely (and sometimes not) controlled by strong women.  Unlike the three Queens books, this one is set on the islands out in the ocean, where people also live in the middle of a constant battle of wills between their queen and her heirs and the spirits, but where the structure of power and the training of heirs is not the same at all.

Mayara can sense the spirits, and control them in an untrained way.  She hides this ability, until she must use it to save her village.  Because then, just as she knew would happen, the Silent Ones come  to take her away.   The fact that she was just married is nothing to them.  The fact that they already took her older sister is nothing.  The fact that she has absolutely no interest at all in choosing between training to become one of the Queen's heirs, or being a Silent One, the law enforcers of the islands, is immaterial.

Mayara, believing her husband is dead, choses to try to become a heir.  The heirs of this realm are put to a trial that is most often fatal.  They are taken to an island full of spirits, who have been given one command--kill.   Any woman who survives for a month becomes an heir.

There are lies and secrets and death-dealing spirits in plenty on the island.  But there are also friendships and loyalties, and women helping each other, and actually doing something to fix things and regain some measure of control over their lives!

There's a second story also playing out, but I won't say what because spoilers, that's a lovely bit of intrigue of its own back on the main islands.

In any event, back to me--I loved it and it was just the right amount of intricacy of story and just the right amount of women I really liked spending time with!  And just the right sort of pacing, with lots of small details of ordinary things setting off the extraordinary things very nicely!  I'll give it one of the highest compliments I can-- I would be happy to start reading it all over again right now.

It isn't necessary to have read the Queens of Renthia books first, so if you feel daunted by the thought of a substantial trilogy, you could get your toes wet/bloody here first.  If you have read Queens and liked those books, you must read this because you will enjoy it lots and lots!  For younger readers, this might actually be the best book to start with.  It's not marketed as YA, but I know for certain sure I'd have loved it back at that age, as young as maybe 12, when I found Patricia McKillip and Diana Wynne Jones and Robin McKinley.  The Queens trilogy feels more older-reader friendly to me, but Mayera, though married, felt young enough that an adolescent can live alongside her beautifully.  (Possibly the island where Mayera is trapped full of hostile spirits, where she makes best friends and they survive together and there's Drama will also feel familiar to kids actually in middle school/high school),

Disclaimer: review copy received ever so gratefully from the author


  1. No tasty snacks? I hate that!! (I particularly hate it when there are no tasty snacks because when I was at the store I told myself not to buy any because if I buy them I eat them. Suffering the consequences of my previous virtue. Very annoying!)

    I love Sarah Beth Durst as an author, but the first Queens book was not one of my favourites of hers, and I haven't read the second. Maybe I should try the world again through this book. The cover is certainly gorgeous!

    1. I liked the first Queens book quite a lot, but this one had, um, a more consistent energy (that sounds kind of clever, so I'll go with it....)

      and yes, that is exactly why I had no tasty snacks. Sigh!

  2. I love the title and I love the cover. You make this sound like a terrific read. Thanks for the review and the fun story of you.


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