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Hunt on Dark Waters


Hunt on Dark Waters

Katee Robert, the bestselling author of the Dark Olympus and Wicked Villains books, kicks off a brand new series. HUNT ON DARK WATERS, the first Crimson Sails novel, is set in a magical world of witches, pirates and monsters.

Orphaned at six and taken in by her grandmother, Bunny, Evelyn was raised with a strict set of rules, including: Don’t do spell work during an eclipse. If you’re going to lie, make it a good one. And, most crucially, stay away from vampires, no matter what. Evelyn has done well with the first two, perfecting her spell work as a witch and embarking on a successful career as a thief and a liar. But she can't say the same when it comes to the third rule.

"[Robert] combines her talent for producing searing, leap-off-the-page chemistry with a knack for penning hard-hitting adventure scenes that takes her series to a totally new level --- both fast-paced and immersive, as well as romantic and sensual."

Evelyn has entered a toxic, captivating situationship with Lizzie, a bloodline vampire whose bite is literally orgasmic and whose role as a vicious hunter only adds to the sensuality of their affair. But it is no secret that an affair between a witch and a vampire cannot last. When Lizzie’s bloodthirsty mother plans an impromptu visit, Lizzie unceremoniously tells Evelyn to kick rocks. Hung over, hurt and petty, Evelyn does indeed kick rocks --- but not before stealing a horde of antique jewels from her lover…and not before accidentally leaving Lizzie’s home through a portal into another realm. It is her hope that Lizzie, now murderous with anger over the stolen goods, will not be able to find her through the collapsed portal, which she demolishes with magic. But magic is unpredictable at best, and Evelyn is woefully unprepared when she finds herself in the Threshold.

In this fantastical world is a magical realm connected to all other realms --- a sort of lobby, if you will --- and it is protected by the Cŵn Annwn. Reminiscent of Davy Jones, ruler of the seven seas, and his ghostly crew, the Cŵn Annwn sails all over the Threshold, protecting its citizens by killing monsters who wander in from other realms, either accidentally or in search of new prey. When Evelyn finds herself floating in the sea of the Threshold, she is rescued (if you can call it that) by the captain of the Crimson Hag.

The literal definition of tall, dark and handsome, Bowen tells Evelyn she has a decision to make: become a part of the crew and serve the Cŵn Annwn, or die. His mutinous crew makes no secret of the fact that they --- a collection of monsters and near immortals themselves --- will not trust a witch under any circumstances, and that they’d rather kill her than let her decide. Evelyn is no damsel, and she immediately entices Bowen with her quick wit and her questioning of the way of the Cŵn Annwn. How, she asks, can they consider their offer a true choice when one option is death? And how, when they are all either monsters or have been labeled as such at one time or another, can they consciously commit themselves to the killing of other so-called monsters?

Evelyn agrees to join the crew, in part only to vex Bowen, but she is constantly on the lookout for an escape plan. Given her skilled pickpocketing and ability to root out secrets, she feels confident that she’ll escape Bowen’s crew --- that is, if she stays alive long enough to both survive them and keep an eye out for Lizzie, whom she is certain will find her no matter what realm she is in.

As romantic leads, Evelyn and Bowen are total opposites whose union promises a match as combustible as flames and as overwhelming as the tallest wave. Evelyn is bratty, witty and confident. Bowen adheres to rules and laws even when logic dictates otherwise, often putting him at odds with himself and his crew. Evelyn recognizes Bowen’s desire to be just and good, but she is also quick to remind him that it’s not very “pirate-y, anti-authority, anti-capitalist of [him] to be sailing around, scooping up refugees, and giving them a bullsh*t bargain...” In questioning Bowen’s ties to the Cŵn Annwn, his definition of monster and his future as the captain of the Crimson Hag, Evelyn draws out his most difficult negotiations with himself. And in providing her a steamy, passionate love interest, Bowen encourages Evelyn to reconsider her anti-label approach to love and sex.

Together, the two banter and quibble as sparks fly, but theirs is not the only drama playing out in the Threshold. Between Bowen’s mutinous quartermaster, his less-than-faithful crew, and the constant hunt for monsters both familiar and fantastical, HUNT ON DARK WATERS is every bit an adventure story. The setting on the high seas makes it riveting, cinematic and propulsive.

Thanks to her recent TikTok fame, it’s no secret that Katee Robert is like a Renaissance artist of sexuality. But here she combines her talent for producing searing, leap-off-the-page chemistry with a knack for penning hard-hitting adventure scenes that takes her series to a totally new level --- both fast-paced and immersive, as well as romantic and sensual.

Though the worldbuilding was occasionally a bit flat, or at least underexplained, Robert’s ability to mesh high-stakes adventures with high-erotica romance promises that Crimson Sails will be a scintillating, sexy series every bit as fleshed out and inviting as her Dark Olympus books. I cannot wait to see how she expands the world and the magical abilities of her characters in BLOOD ON THE TIDE, publishing in May 2024.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on November 17, 2023

Hunt on Dark Waters
by Katee Robert

  • Publication Date: November 7, 2023
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0593639081
  • ISBN-13: 9780593639085