Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Demon Tide (The Black Witch Chronicles #4) by Laurie Forest

The Demon Tide
My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

There was a lot to like about this book, along with a few things I didn't care so much for. But taking the good with the bad, I still have to give this a solid 4 stars.

For starters, I'm glad that I read the two books of The Rebel Mage prior. Both Wandfasted and Light Mage provided a great deal of background to some of the characters that were just introduced to Elloren for the first time in this book. While little details of them were sprinkled throughout, experiencing Fain's closeness to Elloren's mother, Tessla, firsthand, the back story of Rivyr'el, or how Sage met and fell in love with Ra'Ven—all of that added a lot more dimension to these characters when they showed up here in The Demon Tide. And even though they weren't mentioned by name, I recognized Za'ya, Zeymir, and little Na'bee (minor characters from Sage's Light Mage story, sitting in Mora'lee's cafe in one scene. Glad to know they are well and made it to the Noi lands. 😀 Or at least as well as can be expected with what's going down...

While the author is fantastic at detailed world building and character development (with the exception of Elloren's character in this book), I felt that a lot of this book dragged on where it should've been a bit faster paced. The events of Xishlon eve for example, I really didn't care about more than half of those love hookups and could've done with a single chapter, especially for the more minor characters. And the jumps from first to third person POV were often confusing as we switched character perspectives. In previous books, I believe only Elloren was in first person, and all other character perspectives were in third. In this book however, we have Elloren, Trystan, and Vothe all using first person. Until 70% through the book when Vothe's chapters start using third person instead. Often times when reading, especially the Trystan/Vothe chapters, I had to keep reminding myself who "I" and "me" referred to. A bit more consistency here would've made for a lot smoother reading.

I had been hoping to finally see Elloren come into her own and embrace her full power in this book, but alas, it's not until the last 25% ish that we really get to see what great evil her power is capable of, and then only when Vogel invades and takes over her mind and body. Towards the very end, she's transformed and finally does come into her own, but we're left to wait for The Dryad Storm to see how all that actually plays out. Please bring back the self-confident, kick-ass Elloren we began to get a glimpse off at the end of book 3.

Despite my above grievances, I still have to rate this highly because any book that can draw so many emotions from me—laughter, sadness, screaming, and even hate—definitely gets my vote.

In addition, the parallelism between Erthia and our own world is staggeringly accurate and makes this fantasy world seem even more real. Prejudice and xenophobia only serve to corrupt and fragment our society. And the more fractured and divided people are, the easier it is for hate and bigotry to sneak in, creating even more division and destroying the balance of life. A life lesson everyone should embrace.

"the more that people are divided, the more the Shadow Tool grows in power. It feeds on fracture. And then it destroys the Balance."
"The people of this land were fractured before the Branch gained power. They forgot the truth of the Source Tree at the center of their faiths and worshiped the fractured edges instead. They forgot their tether to the natural world."

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