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All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace

(Titan Books, 2021)

Reviewed by Estelle Roberts

All the Tides of Fate is the sequel to the New York Times bestseller All the Stars and Teeth, but can be easily followed even if you haven’t read the previous novel. Visidia is a realm consisting of separate, and reasonably independent islands, which are under the ultimate rule of the monarchs of Arida. Differing types of magic are utilised throughout the land, generally each island specialises in a type, but individuals are prevented by the threat of extreme punishment and societal belief from practising more than one kind.

As the story begins, the main protagonist, Queen Amora, is on board ship returning to Arida after yet another attempt to break the curse placed on her during a previous climactic battle, which also saw her witness the death of her father. This curse has split her soul, which she now shares with Bastian, a pirate-like ship’s captain and a man to whom she was already attracted, and negated her magic. This is obviously something of a problem when you are the ruler of a magically inclined kingdom.

The novel then follows Amora as she tries to come to terms with her father’s death, and shows her initial attempts to govern the kingdom, which are not a success. This is probably not helped by the fact that, by her own admission, she would much rather be at sea. It is suggested that she might increase her popularity, and also make the kingdom more stable, if she were prepared to take a husband and produce an heir. She agrees to her mother’s suggestion of a tour of the islands to meet suitable potential partners, but only because this is a perfect cover for her real plan, which is to find an artefact which can, apparently, break the curse and restore her magic to her.

One fine day, therefore, she sets sail with her crew, which includes Bastian, from whom she cannot be parted because of the aforementioned curse, and a beautiful mermaid. We are now treated to some rather pleasant worldbuilding, as several of the numerous islands are visited in quick succession, giving Grace the opportunity to describe differing cultures, economies and religions, which she does rather well. Despite the seemingly large number of willing marriage candidates, the plot thickens with more than one attempt on the queen’s life, and several swift departures at dead of night in attempt to outrun danger.

The story is more than just a fantasy adventure. It is a coming-of-age tale, as a woman learns to accept the responsibilities thrust upon her at a young age and determines that the kingdom she now rules will advance and modernise. It is also about grief, coming to terms with the death of a parent, who sacrificed themselves for you, but at the same time having to accept that they were very far from perfect. She does have a cathartic dream like experience which is very well rendered and allows her to move forward in the grieving process. This is combined with the new knowledge that her family’s rule is historically based on the use of very dark soul magic and the deliberate holding back of magical and other developments across the islands. It is, of course, also partly about love, and the problems involved when you cannot wholly tell if your feelings are genuine or merely the result of magical skulduggery.

The novel is well paced and a fast read. Amora is a sympathetic protagonist, and you do feel her pain. Her crew are also well drawn and individual, and their relationships well explored. The elements of drama, adventure, grief, love, and the feeling that nothing, however good, lasts forever are mixed to enjoyable effect. It could be argued that it is essentially escapist, but, particularly at the moment, there is probably nothing wrong with that. So, if you are in the mood for a well written, enjoyable and reasonably intelligent magical fantasy, then this novel comes recommended.

Review from BSFA Review 14 - Download your copy here.


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