I was totally bought into Sweet Black Waves from the first page, and not only did I never want to put it down, I never knew what was going to happen next! That’s partly because I was unfamiliar with the story of Tristan and Isolde (on which the book is based), but also because the story is SO CRAZY. It has the twists and turns of a soap opera with the weighty feel of an epic. So basically, everything I want.
Branwen is actually the main character here, cousin and handmaiden to Princess Eseult (called Essy because she shares the name with her mother, the queen). Branwen is training as a healer and saves a guy’s life, but it turns out he’s from the enemy nation across the sea. Thus it’s too bad they fall completely in love with each other as she’s nursing him back to health in a secret cave (no, that’s not a euphemism). There’s no way they can be together, right? Well, we’ll see…!
Added bonus, this book has the nerdiest end matter I’ve ever seen in a YA novel. Kristina Pérez is a scholar of medieval literature, and if you want to test her qualifications, just check out her explanation of how she cobbled together elements of various ancient languages to create the different languages spoken by her characters. Because if you’re going to the trouble of writing a novel, you might as well go ahead and dream up some new vocabularies to go along with it, right? Pérez is decidedly not the kind of author to half-ass things like worldbuilding.
I loved this story so much I looked up the film version, thinking it would be fun to see another interpretation, but sadly it stars James Franco, sooooo I think I’ll call it good with just the book.