The Fate of Stars by SD Simper is the first book in the Sea and Stars trilogy. It is set in the same world as Simper’s Fallen Gods series and has a mermaid as one of the main characters! But hold on to your Dinglehoppers, whosits and whatsits… she may share some of Ariel’s traits, but this is not The Little Mermaid. It is a much darker enemies to lovers fantasy.
It was a dark and stormy night (sorry, I couldn’t resist) when Tallora braved the turbulent ocean waves to perform her prayers to the goddess Staella. It is a ritual she should have performed the previous night, but the allure of another beautiful mermaid was too strong to resist. The conditions are perilous, but she dutifully accepts her penance for her previous dereliction of duty. The storm, however, is not the only danger the night has in store for her.
On the final leg of a long voyage, Princess Dauriel’s ship is caught in the raging storm. Amidst the chaos, she is tossed overboard into the dark depths of the ocean. Disoriented, she begins to swim further into the abyss. Seeing that the woman is sure to drown, Tallora races to save her and return her to her ship. Her reward for her charity is captivity.
Princess Dauriel captures Tallora and presents her as a gift to the queen who adds the mermaid to her collection of rare species. Broken and destined for a life of servitude, her only chance of escape is the same cold-hearted princess that captured her and stole her from her home. The more time they spend together, the deeper their relationship grows. But a war is brewing and Tallora and Dauriel find themselves in the center of the growing tensions asking themselves if they can rely on one another to survive.
Tallora is a bisexual mermaid priestess, who is as feisty as she is sweet. She has good intentions but sometimes succumbs to desires that end up getting her in trouble. I love how Simper’s characters are never one dimensional and Tallora is no exception. Which is why I was initially worried about my reaction to Dauriel.
I confess, I did not like Dauriel at first. She appeared rather flat in her cruelty, singlemindedness, and stubbornness. However, as the story progresses and you learn more about her history, her behaviour makes more sense. This still failed to enamour me to her though. I could sympathize but I still didn’t like her. BUT, as her relationship with Tallora develops, there is some real character growth and I was converted to a fan in the end.
As for the relationship between Tallora and Dauriel, well… It is a hard sell. There is an immense power imbalance. Don’t get me wrong, I do love power play, but the scales are really tilted here. Tallora is a slave and experiences so much suffering at the hands of Dauriel and her mother. Yet she somehow manages to not only forgive Dauriel but fall in love with her. And I bought it eventually. They help each other grow so much as the story progresses that by the end, I was convinced it was possible.
The Writing Style
This is a dark fantasy so prepare yourself for some violence, crudeness, gore, and some vulgarity. Simper really takes the enemies to lovers trope by the horns as well, so hold on for that ride.
The world building is exceptional. The story is set in the same universe as the Fallen Gods series which is deftly done. That universe is enriched even further in this book which takes place well before the aforementioned series. The way Simper is able to weave the mythology and politics into the story, without bogging it down is just masterful.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Simper excels at crafting characters that both repel and draw you in. The simple fact that I actually liked Dauriel by the end of this book is a testament to her ability to create wonderful, multi-dimensional characters.
Readers should know going into this book that there are some scenes of intense violence, torture, threats of sexual assault (the act does not occur), emotional abuse and a relationship that develops amidst an extreme power imbalance.
If you like your fantasy with an extra dark twist, exceptional world building and deeply complex characters then reel this book in fast. You’ll be hooked. Oh, and mermaids! Enough said.
Excerpt from The Fate of Stars by SD Simper
“We thought we lost you, princess,” said an old man who wore not the breeches of the men daring the storm but opulent robes of purple and gold. He spoke Solviran Common, and Tallora understood him well enough – their languages hailed from the common root of Celestiere.
The woman scoffed, standing tall amidst the winds, silhouetted by a distant flash of lightning. “Magister, the gods wouldn’t dare.” Her braided hair clung to her face in matted, salt-drenched loops, like dried seaweed. Tallora had heard of uplander princesses, known in stories for their legendary beauty and ostentatious tastes in clothes and jewels. Instead, the woman wore boots and a tunic dirtied from the salty spray, no finery on her person, her skin tanned and cracked from the sun.
The princess tucked the broken necklace into her trouser picket and knelt, her gaze matching Tallora’s. “You are an unexpected bit of luck, mermaid,” she continued, her eyes calculating as they studied every curve and scale of Tallora’s body. She stiffened, curling tighter into her protective ball. “My name is Dauriel Solviraes, eldest daughter of Empress Vahla. You are now property of the Solviran Empire.”
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 978-1952349089
Publisher: Endless Night Publications
SD Simper Online
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