*I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Title: These Rebel Waves
Author: Sara Raasch
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.
Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.
Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.
As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.
Review: While this wasn’t exactly the magical gay pirate fantasy I was expecting (although, there was a gay heretic), there was definitely a lot of adventure. This story is set during the Spanish Inquisition, where heresy leads to death. The magic aspect of this book is plants with special properties in them, which was interesting. Essentially, you have Argrid, which is ruled over by King Alazar who fears magic and seeks to rid the world of heresy. Then you have Grace Loray, an island mostly living outside Argrid’s rule. It is dominated by Stream Raiders and their Syndicates, who live outside the law and trade the magical plants.
Essentially, the plot of this book revolves around Lu using Vex to find the missing delegate and restore the name of Raiders and Ben trying to cure incurable diseases. I did not expect there to be so much religion involved in this book and it was definitely super heavy at times and hard to follow, but interesting. Every time they talked about the Pious God I just pictured Cersei from Game of Thrones with her shaved head and everyone yelling ‘shame!’ and I don’t know why. My brain works in mysterious ways.
Lu was such an unexpectedly badass character! She’s basically a triple threat because she has political alliances, knowledge of plants, and fighting skills to boot. She can also ooze charm when she wants to and manipulate people into doing what she wants. Lu wants to find a way to save Grace Loray from being overrun by Argrid and its heavily religious rulers. While doing that, she also wants to help Stream Raiders. The perfect plan falls into her lap when a delegate from Argrid goes missing and Devereux Bell just happens to be locked in a cell.
Devereux was definitely my favourite character (and new fave pirate)! He’s definitely got that Jack Sparrow charm, but has more edge to him. Vex is practically a myth in Grace Loray and no one actually knows who he is. He’s the man with a plan and has so many secrets, including the reason behind his eye patch. Basically, he’s living his best life until he tries stealing from the wrong person and ends up in jail.
Ben is the more reserved character of the three. For some reason I pictured him as Bash from Reign? He kept referring to himself as a heretic prince, but remained the dutiful son. I really wanted him to say ‘screw you’ to his father in some big way, but he let his fear rule him. That’s why I had such a tough time with his part of the story I think. Well, and the fact that nothing really interesting happened at all. I almost wish we just had Vex and Lu’s POV’s because at least they left me wanting more and that’s where all the action was.
I really enjoyed Vex and Lu’s story because they pretty much ended up everywhere and I enjoyed the worldbuilding. They visited Raiders, were almost killed multiple times, and I just overall enjoyed the interaction between them. There was a ton of tension and a love-hate thing going on. Oh, and I also enjoyed his crew as well.
These Rebel Waves is a daring adventure swimming with religion, magic, heresy, and betrayal. There were definitely some unpredictable twists—one in particular made me gasp out loud. I also can’t handle the way it ended! The not knowing and the cliffhangers are going to be the death of me. While this wasn’t the pirate fantasy I was hoping for, it was still an interesting story and I will definitely be reading the sequel. If you love books with prison breaks, witty banter, secret plots, slow burn romance, badass fight scenes, adventure, and explosions, then you should probably pick this one up.