Title: In Deeper Waters
Author: F.T. Lukens
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: April 20th, 2021
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy – LGBTQIA+
My rating in stars:
My rating in words:
I liked it
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.
Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.
Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.
That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…
MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):
“Can I touch you?” Tal asked, stepping closer. “Yes.”
Tal wrapped his arms around Athlen’s shaking body and held on. “I’ve got you.”
“I know.” His breath was cool on Tal’s neck. “For how long?”
“Until you tell me to let go.”
In Deeper Waters immediately drew me in because of the stunningly pretty cover AND because of the comparison to Pirates of the Caribbean. (Because, pirates!). But really, that comparison does not do it enough justice. This is more than a pirate story – it’s actually more of a high fantasy romance. There’s magic and magical creatures and princes and political alliances and yes, pirates are in there too but they’re just a small part.
To me though, the magic in the story mostly came from the characters. Both Tal (the young prince who has spent his entire life hidden away in his palace because he contains magic that could be deemed dangerous by others) and Athlen (the mysterious young man Tal and his brother discover imprisoned on a burning abandoned ship) felt like such well-developed, loveable characters. They are both empathic and lonely in their own ways, and while they both have their own story and dangerous secrets, I fell in love with the two of them because they felt so different than your typical protagonists. There was a magic radiating from them, and I’m not just talking about their actual Magic, but the magic brought to the story just by their soft and loveable and brave personalities.
So naturally, bringing these two together was pure genius. Though there is a lot going on, the romance still felt like the most important aspect of the story. These two lonely hearts finding each other was the catalyst for both of them getting out of their shells, finding themselves and engaging in an epic adventure while they’re at it. But most of all, the romance was sweet and absolutely adorable.
“Who was this boy who valued sea glass the same as pearls and gold? Who was he to smile shyly and tease Tal and touch him casually and make his heart race?”
Another aspect of the story I really enjoyed was Tal’s family. For the family of a young prince hidden away because of his magic, they could have turned out really dark and traitorous (in a stereotypical way), but I’m so happy that the story did not go that route. In fact, Tal’s brothers and sisters are super supportive of Tal. They are kind and loyal and care about each other and that was just a joy to behold. I only wish we had a bit more of them.
The only other thing I have to say about this story is that the worldbuilding is not very extensive. In fact, the story felt a bit like a ‘light’ fantasy. There is worldbuilding, other countries, political intrigue and a bloody history, but it all felt like it was background noise. The romance and character development were a much bigger part of the story than the world itself, so don’t go into this expecting to dive into a super complex world. Also, the ending felt a little easy to me and there were still questions open about the world and the future.
So while there are some darker aspects to the story, overall this felt more like an easy, soft and light-hearted fairytale. And truthfully, that’s all I wanted and exactly what I needed when I picked it up, so it was perfect to me. I’d highly recommend this if you’re looking for a nice, light read about two soft boys finding each other in a magical world.