This was an entertaining read. I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much I did.
I’ve said this a couple of times already, but I’ll say it again either way, don’t let the teen and YA tags scare you away.
This book was still easy to read, and I had no problem getting sucked into the story.
You should definitely read this.
Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC.I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
As much as I enjoyed the story, I was expecting more monsters. There seemed to be so much emphasis on there being these monsters but there didn't appear enough for them to truly make an impact on me.
There also was a lot more focus describing the mission underground and I didn't really enjoy that. It just seemed like the journey was being described step by step and it made for a slow, boring read.
I did appreciate the spooky atmosphere though. 2.5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read an early copy of SOMEWHERE IN THE DEEP in exchange for my honest review.
I had the opportunity to also read an early copy of Tanvi Berwah's debut of MONSTERS BORN AND MADE prior to its release, and I was so pleasantly surprised by that one that I jumped on the chance to request her second novel that is set in the same world.
The premise of the book caught my attention immediately. Our protagonist, Kress, is essentially a pit fighter who competes in this gladiator style area against giant and terrifying sea monsters. But when something goes wrong during one of her matches, she becomes widely hated and, as a penance, is subjugated to a dangerous expedition to discover what happened to some missing minors. As dangerous as this is, this benefits Kress because if she succeeds, she gains her freedom off of her island home. And at this point, this girl has nothing to lose.
As we follow her story, we learn that Kress' family name comes with a lot baggage, as well as some bad history with some of her fellow crew members on this expedition. Kress is also wrestling with her growing feelings for her best friend, Rivan, who came after her on this journey. The farther we journey into the depths, the higher the stakes rise and more secrets get uncovered.
I wish I enjoyed SOMEWHERE IN THE DEEP as much as I did MONSTERS BORN AND MADE, but unfortunately a lot of things fell short for me. I thought many of the characters and the relationships/connections to each other were underdeveloped or rushed. And as well as Berwah is with writing a vibrant setting, some parts of the writing felt really clunky and it would pull me out of the story. Ultimately, I was left wanting more.
I enjoyed this standalone set in the same world as Monsters Born and Made. It was full of action and magic. I liked the characters, they were well written. It was a solid YA fantasy and I look forward to reading more books from this author!
This isn’t a sequel to Monsters Born and Made, but it’s set in the same world and could easily be read as a standalone.
I liked Krescent as a main character. For years she’s been held accountable for the drastic actions of her deceased parents, and she had to learn to hard way how to take care of herself. She’s strong, but is able to rely on loyal friend Rivan. To survive, she battles monstrous creatures in an underground fighting pit and has a winning record. After she’s banned from the pits because of a reneged deal, she’s offered a new job. Join and protect a hunting party for a rescue mission deep within the mining caves beneath the island. Of course, it’s not that simple. The details Krescent receives are only a small fraction of what’s really going on.
I’m claustrophobic, so the descriptions of travel through the narrow cave tunnels (more like pinhole slits between two rocks) left me breathless. Maybe it sounds weird, but those parts disturbed me more than the wildly creative monsters. Between the dark, underground caves (with barely any fire to lead the way), monsters who want to eat you, and the uncertainty of who can be trusted in the hunting party, nearly every page offers an intense atmosphere. The actions scenes are exciting and well done, and the imagery vivid.
Krescent may be a fighter to be reckoned with, but she’s oblivious when it comes to love. Everyone except her knows how she and Rivan feel about each other. Those feelings are used against them more than once. While I liked both of them, some of the supporting characters didn’t stand out as much, and I confused them in parts of the story.
The world-building is complex, unique, and one of the strongest aspects of the story. Pacing is steady, but the ending takes off at warp speed. I loved the way the story wraps up and leaves a feeling of hope. Recommended for readers who enjoy high stakes fantasy with hidden motives and complex issues. And maybe those who aren’t claustrophobic.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
DNF 3.0 / 5.0
I read the first 7 chapters of this plus the last two for a total of roughly 20%. I won a giveaway prize on GoodReads and had access to the ARC on NetGalley, so thank you to the publisher and NetGalley.
Somewhere in the Deep is a dystopian fantasy of human kind on another planet, where a caste system of society designates people into jobs and prevents movement between social tiers. It is Hunger Games meets The Scorpio Races and a heavy dose of colonial oppression.
The opening follows the same formula, and there is a great monster scene at the beginning, but then it begins… the same plot ladder and character builder is used as was in the first one. It is pedantic and boring. I really want to go back and finish the in-between, because I want to know how we get from point A to K, but the writing is so insufferable. I am reminded of everything I didn’t like in Berwah’s first book in the little bit of this one I was able to read. It is not badly written from a technical standpoint, it is just missing that unnamed element that makes a good story.
Until Next Time,
Gladiator meets underground Avatar with a sprinkle of lord of the rings.
Krescent is a pit fighter who must pay off her debt by fighting for her life. One day she is told to throw a match which sets in motion a quest to find some missing miners in the deep of the earth. Along the journey are Krescent’s childhood friend turned enemy and others chosen for their skills. The group head into the mines where they encounter terrifying monsters and discover secrets.
This is a wonderfully written story which is not too scary. It has romance, adventure, a touch of political intrigue, and monster battles. I think there is something for everyone. I enjoyed the way that Krescent describes the way she feels during a fight. Often characters seem to get hit and move on like it’s nothing but Kres describes being in pain. It made her seem more real.
I liked the world building with the combination of deep ocean creatures and underground settings. It made the story seem more unique.
Some parts of the story were a little drawn out for my tastes.
I still recommend reading this story!!
Thank you to the author, publisher and netgalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I really wanted to love this book but I struggle withe character development and the writing. The plot was a really good idea, I just wish I could have seen more depth and more thought put into it. I did like it overall though.
“𝚂𝚘𝚖𝚎𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚍𝚘𝚎𝚜𝚗’𝚝 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝚝𝚘 𝚖𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝚒𝚝 𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚊𝚕𝚒𝚟𝚎. 𝙰𝚗𝚍 𝚜𝚑𝚎’𝚕𝚕 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚝𝚘 𝚏𝚒𝚐𝚞𝚛𝚎 𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚠𝚑𝚘 𝚋𝚎𝚏𝚘𝚛𝚎 𝚜𝚑𝚎’𝚜 𝚕𝚎𝚏𝚝 𝚊𝚕𝚘𝚗𝚎… 𝚒𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚍𝚊𝚛𝚔.”
💛💛 / 5
I want to start by saying the plot of this book is fantastic, for me the execution fell a little short. When I started reading I flew through the first few chapters, I enjoyed the gladiator style fights between Krescent and the sea creatures in the pits, I loved some of the little details such as Krescents tattoos and the little flashbacks to when she was a child. However, I found her very moany and annoying.
I get that Krescent had been handed a shit deal with her parents, everyone being against her and that she lives pay check to pay check; but I don’t need to be reminded of this every other line! While there’s lots of details about Krescents thoughts, I found that other details such as fight scenes and descriptions of monsters fell a little short. I found it hard to picture the creatures and a lot of the descriptions of her injuries and pain come across and pretty serious and she just brushed them off? At one point it sounds like her arm is so badly cut you can see the bone and she just picks herself up and keeps fighting?
I’m not sure if this is due to reading an ARC so a round of editing and rewrites where still going to happen or if it’s just the authors writing style, but unfortunately it wasn’t for me. I really found myself forcing myself to read, as the plot was interesting and I wanted to know what happened in the end.
Just as a trigger warning there are mentions of several off screen parent deaths, several on screen deaths, fighting and violence. And a running theme of animal cruelty.
For lovers of:
- Chosen One
- Gladiator F¡ghts
- Friends to Lovers
- Fantasy with a Dystopian Feel
Enjoyable enough. Yet again I request books that are within another world the author already wrote about. So the mentioning of those events threw me.
But I still enjoyed the book. I found the story fun and enough to keep me turning pages.
Thank you to NetGalley and the published for the eARC.
This premise drew me in like crazy. Underwater creatures? A badass lady? You bet! But the characters fell a bit flat for me. None of them seem fully developed. The plot quickly became trudging from point A to point B to point C and finding the odd obstacle in between. The Shade people were underdeveloped. The Collector was underdeveloped. This massive villain was hardly present and did not feel like a threat at all. I felt no real spark between Kress and Rivan. I wanted more. More creatures, more urgency, more development. The reference to the Theseus story also felt super weird and out of place and unnecessary. There wasn't enough interaction to make me care about the Shade people. This could have used some polishing and less of Kress's internal monologue.
"Today is not the day I die."
From gladiatorial fighting pits with angered monsters to a quest into the deep, elaborate underground tunnel systems that hold their own beasts, to a revolution to save the island from annihilation, Somewhere in the Deep is a diverse, OwnVoices rollercoaster that weaves Asian mythology with a story about the on bone-tiring soul-sucking struggle of living under colonisation and oppression.
Krescent Dune is manipulated into a corner. Her circumstances are dire, and the pressure to come up with a solution has narrowed to one option: protecting the rescue party going deep underground from the deadly creatures that make the darkness their home.
"What the lowest deeps hold, I can only imagine. Creatures of the dark that no one on this island could face."
The class system is divided into two tiers; the upper-caste Landers, and the lower-caste Renters. The Landers are the elite in charge, who hold and hoard the wealth, rights and control. Those unlucky enough to be born in the lower-caste, a Renter, must work everyday to pay off the debt of 'renting' the food, cloths and homes from the Landers. Being a Renters on the island Kar Artish means working in the mines extracting a valuable mineral zargunine in order to live.
"for a Lander, the rest of us are barely human. It makes things easier for them if they don't see us as being worthy of the same life as them. Our loved ones could bleed in front of us, and they will still demand that we finish our job for them first. Everything must serve them."
In the journey bellow, beliefs are challenged, myths brought to life and the threat of death and betrayal with every step. When intruders from above disturb the things that make the the darkness home, cults, gods and mythical beasts try their hand at snuffing out their lights.
"How long can I keep cheating death?"
Somewhere in the Deep is a novel that can be read as a standalone, or as the companion to Monsters Born and Made, the authors previous book, released in 2022. However, I was unaware that Somewhere in the Deep was a companion novel. I only realised around 80% in, and I found reading it as a standalone took nothing away from the story.
I did find the exposition was a little dumpy, spread out but just chunks here and there within the first 20%, to get you caught up in the world fast enough so the characters can quickly leave it and go underground.
Another issue I found was the repetition of information. Krescent consistently repeated information on her leaving the island, on her relationship with Rivan and the unfairness of her treatment as the child of a murderers.
This book contains clean friends-to-lovers romance with Rivan as he supports her heroes journey into the deep and becoming the spark of change for her people.
Somewhere in the Deep is a quite a long book, yet doesn't truly master all the things it was trying to achieve. I appreciate the representation of the transgender character, Ashvin, who was one of Rivans brothers. Dystopian diverse YA fantasy had pacing and structure issues but had interesting themes of oppression, colonisation and capitalism.
"Trying to convince everyone of my humanity every day of my life."
As a standalone fantasy, I was unsure how the author was going to resolve the issues of the class divide when the story was so heavily focused on the underground quest. Without entering spoilers, I found the ending quite rushed, with the somewhat haphazard in dismantling such a violent politcal system. Revolutions should take longer, and have a harsher cost to them. Somewhere in the Deep should have decided what type of book it wanted to be, a quest book or a revolution and trying to do both made them both suffer.
"I went into the deep and faced a god and lived. I did all those things. I'm a fighter. I'm a survivor."
Would I recommend this book??
Unfortunately, it's gonna be a no from me.
Will I re-read this book?
I doubt it. It's not a very re-ready book.
I did not know that this book was a sequel. You wouldn't necessarily have to read the first book to understand "Somewhere in the Deep," but I'm sure it would provide morr backstory and character development. I wish I knew this before reading, because I struggled getting into this book. I'd read some, and put it down and have trouble picking it back up. I think the world was interesting, but still could not get hooked. I think this was a good book, but not the book for me.
Thank you to NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to review this book. These are my honest opinions.
First, a breakdown of my rating system:
5 stars - phenomenal book; I’ll recommend this one to everyone, I want to live in this world, and I will read this one over and over!
4 stars - great book. I enjoyed the story and the characters, but I probably won’t reread it.
3 stars - good story and characters. I can’t see myself coming back to this one, but it was an entertaining read
2 stars - hard to finish. The story was not for me, and I had to make myself keep reading.
1 star - DNF. Absolutely could not finish.
Somewhere in the Deep is a YA fantasy book with a little bit of romance driving the plot as well. Krescent Dune is our main character in this story, and all she wants to do is escape her life on the island of Kar Atish. When she was 11, her parents did something unforgivable, resulting in the deaths of many other people on the island. As ignorant people tend to be, the people here cannot look beyond the sins of her parents and see her as just as guilty. Kress (Krescent) is fighting in the pits to try to save enough money to leave when she is backed into a corner and pretty much forced to join an underground expedition as their bodyguard. The expedition is fraught with peril, from monsters underground to people who are not who they pretend to be. Along the way, we find out more about the land and its origins, which is more complex than Kress or any of her fellow islanders can imagine.
I’m not going to lie, there were times when this story felt slow and strained. Some of the world-building felt incomplete and characters fell a little flat in their motivations as well. Kress could be a bit frustrating with her actions and thoughts, but to be fair, she was a kid. I know this is a YA book, but at times it felt hard to read even for YA.
Keep in mind, reading is subjective and you may love this book. It just wasn’t my fav. cup of tea.
The first half of the book is very action packed and fast paced . However the second half seemed a little rushed and not fully developed.
Thank you for the eArc.
This book was not quite what I was expecting.
First, I didn't realize that this was a (kind-of) sequel - same world as the author's first book, Monsters Born and Made, with some mentions of events that took place in the first book. I'm assuming the down-trodden citizenry was very similar to what it was in her other book based on the reviews I have seen of that one.
Second, I was basing my interest in this book on the blurb that I read, but the blurb only scratches the surface. Like being told that you are getting candy only to find out it's really candied carrots, with all the associated let-downs and tortures of eating vegetables when you were expecting sweets. I also didn't see any South Asian inspiration, unless some of the obscure monster descriptions are supposed to match up with the creatures in this novel?
All that aside, the world building was pretty creative. Depressing, but creative. The descriptions of the monsters, the feelings of being down in the dark alone, those were great. Despite this I just didn't like it. The characters were annoying and clueless and everything was just so... dark. The interactions between the jaded Kress and, well, everyone else, was just painful. And the unrequited (maybe) love schtick? Cringe.
A very good story
At 17, Krescent has to fight monsters in a fighting pit to earn enough money to survive. After her parents died, leaving her with crippling debts, she had no other choice. After being banned from the pits because of a fight gone wrong, she is sent to join a rescue mission in the mining caves under the island to protect the adventurers. She will have to ally with strangers she doesn't know in order to save herself and the people she loves.
The very beginning of this book was really intense and sucked me into the story immediately. I had a blast reading this from start to finish. Even if some parts were a bit predictable and cliché, the amazing world was so interesting I was enthralled. Krescent was not the most relatable and likeable main character but I understood her struggles nonetheless and the difficult situations she found herself in. The plot in itself was sometimes a bit slow, but then, the author wrote those amazing action/battle scenes with the monsters that were very intense and gripping and I couldn't put the book down. The hint of romance was sweet, although expected and I liked the love interest and his relationship with Krescent. All in all, it was a fun read!
I recommend if you like YA fantasy that inches toward sci-fi.
"Now I have to finish what they started and risked everything for."
This was an entertaining fantasy read that I ultimately had mixed feelings about. Krescent Dune is a 17-year-old who’s been on her own ever since her parents blew up a mine. Not only is she saddled with their debts, but she’s hated by everyone because her parents killed so many people. She survives only by working in the pits, battling fierce monsters – until her boss sends her as a bodyguard on an excursion to rescue some people who have been lost in the mines.
It’s an atmospheric read, taking place mostly underground in dark caverns and underground lakes. The party is attacked by killer scorpions, and worse. I enjoyed the world Berwah created, and the backstory of the main character. But one thing that detracted a little is I felt like I had seen many of these things before, in movies like Fellowship of the Ring. Just when the exploration party thinks they’re safe, something jumps out of a dark crevice or murky pond. It’s campy and foreboding, but definitely has been done before.
Another distraction was the characters seemed a little juvenile to me. I understand this is young adult fiction – but even so, both the romantic story and another character’s hatred of Kress seemed immature given the setting of the book. These are hard-as-nails characters who are fighting for their lives and oppressed by their leaders at every turn. Think Hunger Games, but with more angst.
The world-building was interesting and I appreciated the detail given to the class distinctions (the Landers own everything and the Renters either work in the mines, fight in the pits, or get stuck in a work camp for debtors. I also appreciated Krescent’s character growth during this journey, as she comes to terms with what her parents did.
Their journey is full of twists and turns and scary flying beasts. Kress never knows which characters will betray her (though one “surprise” was pretty obvious). But the last part of the book lost me a bit, things happened too quickly and the writing felt one-dimensional.
Most of the book is a fast-paced action/adventure read, and if you’re looking for YA that’s reminiscent of Hunger Games, you’ll like this one. But I can’t recommend it for anyone who isn’t a teen (and there are lots of YA books I recommend for all ages). If the cover is drawing you in, I suggest Mira Grant’s Into the Drowning Deep instead, or Tricia Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King.
Note: I received an advanced review copy of this book by NetGalley and publisher Sourcebooks Fire. This book was published January 9, 2024
I wanted to like this story so much, the plot was really intriguing and the cover is amazing However, I ended up DNFing it. The writing was very intense, it just went on and on. The world building was more telling the reader rather than showing and creating a visual representation of what the world looks like. The twists were predictable... I just couldnt continue reading it. At least not right now, i might go back to it and finish it at some point.
I wanted to like this story so much, the idea for the plot was really intriguing. The cover is amazing. That said, the world building was all tell- not show-, the "twists" were predictable at every corner, the characters were uninspired and I found myself confused at the decisions for infodumping content that would have fit better elsewhere; e.g. the hard sell of the mother being a descendant of the shadowfolk should have come far before the abandonment in the mines.