Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering. Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village–and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon–may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead. Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin–as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits–Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all. But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…
I was pulled into this book because of the cover. I know, I know, that’s bad, but it’s absolutely stunning. And it sounded absolutely incredible as well. A girl who sacrifices herself save her brother, who is swept into the sea and into the Spirit Realm. A story of a Sea God and deadly storms and enchantments. It sounded so, so good.
Axie Oh’s writing, and this book, are stunningly gorgeous. Seriously, I want to infuse the beauty of this book into everything because it shines so brightly. It feels like sea foam, a fresh mint leaf, like water cupped between the palms. Just, so, so gorgeous.
Reading this book was a bit complicated for me. I don’t know if it was mood or something else, but I found myself not completely loving it towards the middle. I was still ingrained by the story, the characters were solid, the relationships were top notch, but I just did not find myself completely connected into it. And that’s fine! I just thought it wasn’t a book for me. Some books are like that. I knew it was going to be a favorite for a lot of people. But, the ending completely turned that on it’s head. I ended up falling completely in love. Aspects slotted into place and the story completely bloomed open. The twist, I feel weird even calling it a twist because it doesn’t feel that dramatic. It fits so incredibly well. Yes, I was shocked by the turn of events, but it also feels incredibly natural. Like yes, this is where the story is supposed to be. This is exactly what is supposed to be happening now. Everything in this book came together so, so well.
Really, I think this book is fantastic storytelling all around. Even in the parts where I wasn’t completely in love, I could realize that. It just flows together and creates something special.
The relationships between the characters, and the characters themselves, were so, so sweet. They are more than sweet of course, but they just have this sweetness about them that makes me adore them. The friendships, the romantic relationships, the familial ties, all of them were incredibly well done. Actions were done because of love, because of dedication to certain people, to commitment. The bond between humans was showcased here very clearly, and very plainly, and I thought it was done incredibly well.
Overall, I ended up loving this book. While I didn’t fully love the plot at certain points, the ending made me fall completely in love with the whole thing. The entire thing is completely stunning, from writing to characters to the world to the relationships to how the plot unfolds. It’s truly an amazing book.