ARC Review: The Bright and Breaking Sea

Title: The Bright and Breaking Sea
Author: Chloe Neill
Rating: 4/5 stars
Kit Brightling, rescued as a foundling and raised in a home for talented girls, has worked hard to rise through the ranks of the Isles’ Crown Command and become one of the few female captains in Queen Charlotte’s fleet. Her ship is small, but she’s fast–in part because of Kit’s magical affinity to the sea. But the waters become perilous when the queen sends Kit on a special mission with a partner she never asked for.
Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, may be a veteran of the Continental war, but Kit doesn’t know him or his motives–and she’s dealt with one too many members of the Beau Monde. But Kit has her orders, and the queen has commanded they journey to a dangerous pirate quay and rescue a spy who’s been gathering intelligence on the exiled emperor of Gallia.
Kit can lead her ship and clever crew on her own, but with the fate of queen and country at stake, Kit and Rian must learn to trust each other, or else the Isles will fall….

I haven’t seen many people talking about this book, but I thought it was fun and I want more people to read it! I’ve always loved books involving pirate ships and sea voyages, I think it started with the Redwall books when I was a child. There’s just something enchanting and mysterious about the ocean, and no matter how many times I read about sea battles, deep sea creatures, and getting lost at sea, it never gets old!

Besides books about the ocean, the other kind of story that really appeals to me is period pieces about women who take on roles of power and subvert the expectations of what a proper lady should be doing. Kit Brightling is one of a few women captains in the Queen’s service, and although she does face some prejudice, no one can deny that she’s good at her job. Kit has the magical ability to control the waves and manipulate them to get her ship moving exactly how she wants…you can imagine how useful that skill is during a naval battle!

If I had to use two words to describe this book, I would say it is both charming and understated. There is a fantasy element, but the magical aspects only play a small role in the story. I thought the worldbuilding in general was pretty interesting, with differences between magic that can be harnessed on the shore/sea vs vibrational magic in the earth. There is a very slow burn, understated romance. There’s also a mystery element, but nothing too stressful. The characters were all incredibly endearing and charming. My favorite character is definitely Kit’s sister Jane. Jane is only a minor character but she engineers explosives of all kinds and I LOVE HER.

This book is a lot of fun, full of witty banter and fun action scenes. My only complaint is that it starts off pretty slow, and I was waiting for the stakes to be raised and it didn’t happen until about 2/3 of the way through the book. But if you go into this book just looking for a fun and charming read, you won’t be disappointed.

Publication date: 11/17/2020

A free e-ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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