Thank you to both Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!
With rich worldbuilding and prose that’s both gorgeous and intense, The Dark Tide is Jasinska’s debut novel with lots and lots of promise.
Unfortunately, promise is most of what it is for me.
Don’t get me wrong. This book is good. The writing, as aforementioned, is beautiful. I rarely encounter such bewitching prose outside of poetry. Moreover, the worldbuilding is solid and when you combine it with the writing, you’ll get a fictional world that’s so alive, you can almost live in it.
However, this doesn’t extend to the characters. Main characters Lina and Eva aren’t flat per se. Thomas, Finley and Marcin aren’t too two-dimensional as well, but they aren’t as fleshed out as Lina and Eva which I understand because they’re only secondary characters. It’s just that when you’re provided with a world so rich and real, the characters feel lacking in comparison. I don’t know how to explain this better, but despite being privy to the points of view of Lina and Eva, and being able to get to know characters better through them, all of them just don’t feel as real as the world they’re living in.
Consequently, the romance between Lina and Eva appears disingenuous as well. Though, the final two chapters are sweet and they give hope for a genuine love between those two, I spent most of the book unconvinced by how easily Lina falls (in lust more than love, maybe) for Eva when she’s been stuck on Thomas for years, and unconvinced by the reasons why Eva cares for Lina since she has built up walls so high around her that it’s practically an ivory tower. There’s not enough development to make their budding romance feel credible.
Also, I’m not sure if I’m the only one who felt this while reading the book, but the perception of time feels unbalanced. There are scenes when the pace should be quick but gets slowed down by the imagery, and scenes when the pacing should slow down but gets sped up by dialogue and action instead. The time jumps between certain events also lend to the skewed perception of time. Moreover, this unbalanced perception of time throws off the overall pacing of the plot. The Dark Tide began with a bang but instead of maintaining the pace, it slowed down and that lasted for a great many chapters until the near end when the story sped up again.
All in all, The Dark Tide is a book that drags you in, pushes you away and then, drags you in again like the low tides of a morning sea. It’s a beautiful story with the best kind of witchy/fantasy vibes, but I wish it was just a bit more.