Epeolatry Book Review: Dark Water Daughter (Winter Sea #1) by H. M. Long


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Title: Dark Water Daughter (Winter Sea #1)
Author: H.M Long
Publisher: Titan Books
Genre: Sword and Sorcery. Fantasy Action and Adventure, Epic Fantasy

Release date: 18th July, 2023

Synopsis: A stormsinger and pirate hunter join forces against a deathless pirate lord in this swashbuckling Jacobean adventure on the high-seas.

Launching the Winter Sea series, full of magic, betrayal, redemption and fearsome women, for readers of Adrienne Young, R. J. Barker and Naomi Novik.

Mary Firth is a Stormsinger: a woman whose voice can still hurricanes and shatter armadas. Faced with servitude to pirate lord Silvanus Lirr, Mary offers her skills to his arch-rival in exchange for protection – and, more importantly, his help sending Lirr to a watery grave. But her new ally has a vendetta of his own, and Mary’s dreams are dark and full of ghistings, spectral creatures who inhabit the ancient forests of her homeland and the figureheads of ships.

Samuel Rosser is a disgraced naval officer serving aboard The Hart, an infamous privateer commissioned to bring Lirr to justice. He will stop at nothing to capture Lirr, restore his good name and reclaim the only thing that stands between himself and madness: a talisman stolen by Mary.

Finally, driven into the eternal ice at the limits of their world, Mary and Samuel must choose their loyalties and battle forces older and more powerful than the pirates who would make them slaves.

Come sail the Winter Sea, for action-packed, high-stakes adventures, rich characterization and epic plots full of intrigue and betrayal.

Before I sail into my review of Dark Water Daughter, I have a few disclaimers.

I adore pirate lore. So much so, I pursued that love into a master’s in history; maritime history, in fact. And not just maritime history…yep, you guessed it, matey! Pirates!

And, for those who have gotten to know me under my pen name, the tag line on my author blog is “Bringer of Nightmares and Storms”.

The point I’m trying to make—I was partial to this book before I cracked it open (faster than you could say “Davy Jones’ locker”, of course!).

And, as temperatures are still soaring despite it being September, I relished this book even more. Because it wasn’t all smooth sailing and tropical storms, it was ice and frigid coastlines and winter winds that made me batten down the (cozy blanket) hatches despite the stifling heat.

And a chilling reveal at the heart of it all, worthy of the foulest maelstrom, was a poignant one that drew me even deeper into the story.

However, I did lose my bearings a bit when it came to navigating the romantic undercurrents, even though those same undercurrents lent some extra suspense lurking beneath the surface of the tale.

I confess, though, it wasn’t until I was about halfway (maybe even three-fourths) through the novel that a clouds-parting revelation came to me regarding the names of two characters. Whether in intentional homage or not, I was like “Mary and Anne, of course! Mary Read and Anne Bonny!”

The rest, after that, was history. But it wasn’t all gold and riches and X marks the spot, even with all the elements I was keen on before and during this high seas supernatural adventure.

I had the image of one of the characters as a wilding, living in a remote-ish locale, with trees and sky and nature for company, untrammeled by societal mores and fashions of the time. I know (or can guess at) what the author, H. M. Long, was trying to achieve—to anchor it into that particular historical time period. But at times this character commenting on things like the wearing of stays and other desires to be dressed in clothing more appropriate to the upper echelons of society jarred with my perception of the character based on their backstory and continued depiction. Maybe it was due to the character at times seeming she was a member of the upper class, and then other times not, that made me feel like the stars weren’t quite in alignment.

Whatever the reason, I’ll let you make this literary journey of discovery throughout this atmospheric tale. 

But be warned; there may be monsters within.

Dark waters, indeed.


Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

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