Format: E-Galley, 448 pages
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Historical
Sweet Black Waves is the debut novel from author Kristina Pérez. While this trilogy is a retelling of Tristan and Isolde, it is 19-year old Branwen Cualand of Laiginzir that is the series protagonist. Branwen is a character who puts everyone's happiness ahead of her own. That includes her cousin Princess Eseult of Iveriu, daughter of King Oengus and Queen Eseult, who is beyond spoiled unlike her mother. The Queen is renowned for her skills with herbs and healing which she has passed onto Branwen. Branwen's world was rocked to the core when her parents, the Lord and Lady of Castle Bodwa, were murdered by ravaging pirates when she was a child. They continue to invade Iveriu relentlessly killing indiscriminately and leaving families shattered.
By the way, when I say Iveriu, I actually mean Ireland. When I say Kernyv, I really mean Cornwall. While Branwen manages to do things for everyone except herself, she makes a number of questionable choices. Choices that will leave no doubt that her main motivation is to protect the people she loves as well as bring peace to Iveriu. But, when a strange man (who just happens to be Prince Tristan, heir to the protectorate of Liones) washes up on the shore badly hurt, she makes the choice to save his life in secret. This one moment in time is just the beginning of Branwen's becoming more than just the niece of the King and Queen, and the lady's maid to her cousin Essy. Branwen explores her hidden magical abilities as well as giving her the opportunity to expand on her desire to protect her home by aligning herself with a man who should be her enemy.
Tristan has similar goals in mind; peace between Iveriu and Kernyv. He chooses to participate in a champions tournament for the right to marry Eseult and unite the countries in a long desired peace. Meanwhile, Branwen is inching closer to making a life changing choice in order to give her cousin the love and happiness she desires. The fact that much of the story seesaws back and forth between Tristan and Branwen's feelings for the other, and Essy's desire to be her own woman, throws things into disarray when you get to the ending.
I am basing my review on the shocking and soul shattering ending that just was mean spirited. Yes, I do know and have read the story about Tristan and Isolde.Tristan and Isolde weren't that far behind Gweniever, Arthur and Lancelot for the most twisted love story in history. I even watched a really awful remake not too long ago. However, I'm not quite sure what the point was of having the so called heroine of the story, Branwen, be involved if the author was going to stick close to the original tale. My favorite part of this story is the relationship between Branwen and Queen Eseult. There is so much to gather from their conversations about magic, and the old ones, and Branwen becoming much more than just a role player in a romance that has been retold numerous times over the ages.