I received a copy of Beneath the Starlit Sea by Nicole Bea from NetGalley. The story is a fantasy romance. It follows a sorceress Illyse and a doctor, Garit. Both are tasked with finding the culprit behind the mysterious murders in Sjökanten.
Illyse is a witch who prefers to be on the sidelines by herself and her familiar foxes. She is not interested in the conflict between her coven and humans. In the beginning, she is taken to the King and forced to help him figure out what is behind the murders in Sjökanten. The iron band limits Illyse’s power, she is forced to wear it by the King. Garit is the doctor working in the castle, and now, both have to work together to figure out what’s murdering people.
Illyse and Garit start working together, and it is clear that she has feelings for him. It’s challenging to understand where Garit stands, but soon it is noticeable that he too, has a soft spot for Illyse. There are strict laws in place in the kingdom about human and magical beings mingling. The situation is dangerous for both of them, but the punishment is severe for Illyse. Their relationship blossoms and they get together pretty early while continuing work on their murder investigation. As the number of dead bodies increases, the King wants Illyse and Garit to find a solution. The part about their investigations and how to fight these monsters is pretty interesting. This is the subplot of the story and the main plot is the romance for me.
The story has fantasy elements, romance, and thriller blended quite well. Illyse and Garit have doubts about themselves and their relationship. But, the story is narrated only from Illyse’s perspective, so, that made it difficult for me to really understand Garit’s character. The romance between them is forbidden and needs to be kept a secret. Their relationship is cute, and clearly, they have chemistry. I just wish there was more of a build-up to their relationship because we don’t get to see them in the connecting and bonding phase. It happens too soon.
Illyse has issues with Garit’s past that are valid. But, she gives in too easily to him every time, which made me wonder why it bothered her in the first place. When they are together, they communicate mostly well and respect each other. The only issue for me in Beneath the Starlit Sea is the pacing. Sometimes, everything happens back to back, and other times it slows down. Nicole Bea does manage to keep the mystery around the murders interesting till the end.
Overall, it’s an interesting read. It has all the fantasy elements, with a cute forbidden romance and intriguing plot. I liked the way this world of Sjökanten was built. It has potential; it was different from the other fantasy books I have read recently. Beneath the Starlit Sea by Nicole Bea has an intriguing plot and does well combining, fantasy and romance in the story. I enjoyed reading it.
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