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The Deepest Blue: Tales of Renthia

Review

The Deepest Blue: Tales of Renthia

THE DEEPEST BLUE by Sarah Beth Durst is a beautiful story featuring strong and compassionate characters, a rich setting, and a plot with nonstop action. The writing grabs readers on the first page and doesn't let go until the very end.

In the mythical kingdom of Renthia, Mayara has powers over the spirits of the islands of Belene, where she and her family live. Like her older sister, Mayara can control the water, air, fire and ice spirits that live on the islands. She has kept them hidden because girls with powers do not have happy futures. They are either taken from their families to serve as The Silent Ones, the island's police force, never to talk again, or are sent to a testing island to fight bloodthirsty nature spirits trying to kill them in order to prove their value so they can be "heirs" to the throne.

"...a beautiful story featuring strong and compassionate characters, a rich setting, and a plot with nonstop action. The writing grabs readers on the first page and doesn't let go until the very end."

Unfortunately, during the testing, the spirits kill more girls than make it through the month-long survival test. The heirs are necessary both to fight wild spirits that try to destroy the islands and kill the islanders, and to be ready to replace the queen when she dies. On the throne sits the queen of the island, whose job is to control the monsters that live in the deepest part of the ocean. Their spirits rest below the ocean, and she must keep them sleeping and dreaming deeply so they don't destroy the island. The skeletons upon which much of the islands are built come from ancient spirits --- creatures so large that entire villages are built on the rib cages of the leviathans.

When, on her wedding day, Mayara uses her powers to save villagers during a terrible spirit storm, these powers are recognized. The Silent Ones come, and Mayara must make a choice: become a Silent One, never to speak or see her family again, or take a huge risk and agree to the 30-day test of her powers on the island, which few survive.

All of Durst’s characters are wonderfully full of depth, and some are delightfully quirky. Like real life, there are those who are noble, some who are selfless and generous, others who are ruthless, and at least one who is just bad through and through.

Mayara has noble ideals and true love for her husband and family. She grieves terribly for the sister who was killed on the island during testing years before. And while Mayara has taken dangerous risks diving and living, she wants to survive and be reunited with her husband. She also has compassion to spare for those she meets on her adventure, and these friendships serve her well.

The different paths that Mayara and her new husband, Kelo, take are carefully told in a manner that keeps readers turning page after page wanting to know how the other is faring. While some books with many characters can be confusing or become tedious when trying to remember all the names, this is certainly not the case with Durst. With her lovely writing, each character becomes real.

THE DEEPEST BLUE, like all of Durst's novels, shows that when you write beautifully, have a lively imagination, and create real characters and situations (even though they are pure fantasy), readers will love them. This is an adult fantasy, but there is nothing here that would make it inappropriate for a young adult audience.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on March 22, 2019

The Deepest Blue: Tales of Renthia
by Sarah Beth Durst

  • Publication Date: March 19, 2019
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • ISBN-10: 0062690841
  • ISBN-13: 9780062690845