I recently reread my favorite Yarnsworld novel, Where the Waters Turn Black by Benedict Patrick via audiobook. Since my first review I wrote back in the summer of 2017 is pretty much useless, I decided to write a slightly better one. JFC, I have no idea how Benedict could let me become part of his ARC team with those reviews I wrote back then… I only hope I was more useful as a beta reader later on…
|Series: Yarnsworld #2 (can be read as a stand-alone)||Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Mythological Fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: November 16th, 2016||Trigger Warnings: violence, death|
|Page count: 218||Publisher: Self-Published|
When gods and monsters battle, her music will not protect her…
What lurks beneath the waves?
The Crescent Atoll is a remote string of tropical islands, connected by long canoe journeys and a love of stories.
When Kaimana, a young ocarina player, discovers the lair of a taniwha – a legendary monster – she finds herself inspired. The song she is composing about their encounter will be her masterpiece, but her disturbance of the beast attracts the ruining gaze of the god of war. She must convince the taniwha to trust her if they are both to survive.
Where the Waters Turn Black is a standalone novel from Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld series. Inspired by the myths and legends of South Pacific island cultures, this book is perfect for those seeking fantasy stories with a hint of the unfamiliar.
Moana is one of my favorite Disney movies just as Where the Waters Turn Black is one of my favorite Yarnsworld novels. Moana and Kaimana have a lot in common too, so I thought the theme song would be a perfect pick for this book.
If you are new to the Yarnsworld series, let me give you a quick heads up. If you are familiar with this world, feel free to jump to the next paragraph. All the books in the series are stand-alones, and can be read in whatever order you want. However, there are a couple that are connected to each other. Book 1, They Mostly Come Out At Night, and book 4, From the Shadows of the Owl Queen’s Court, are set in the same part of Yarnsworld, in the Magpie King’s forest, and are connected. The same goes for book 2, Where the Waters Turn Black, and book 5, To Dream and Die as a Taniwha Girl which are set at the Crescent Atoll. Book 3, Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords has no connected novel yet, but never say never. This novel is set in yet again another part of the same universe. If you are into audiobooks, the Yarnswold novels are now available, paired together, so you can enjoy them all at once.
Right, let’s talk about Where the Waters Turn Black, the second book set in the Yarnsworld series. This is the story of Kaimana, a girl with a Knack for music. In the Yarnsworld, people can develop Knacks, a magical skill of their profession. Kaimana is a talented ocarina player, traveling around the Crescent Atoll with her troupe to perform and tell stories to the islanders. But what she wants more than anything is to create a masterpiece so people would know her name. She chases her spark – people with Knacks can spark which allows them magical abilities for a short amount of time to use, a gift from the gods – and a worthy story to tell. Until one day, on her home island, she finds a taniwha – mythical creatures, some of them with magical abilities -, one with whom the islanders live in harmony. Until, that is, when Kaimana wakes him up and things go out of hand from there.
Kaimana is unlike many women over the Crescent Atoll – while many of them settle down, marry and raise children, being content with their lives, Kaimana longs for adventures and to see the world outside of her home island. To find inspiration. With Rakau on her side, she gets a bit more than she bargained for, however. The islands are not only home to people and the taniwha, but the gods as well. Legends and myths are as real in the Crescent Atoll as the people themselves, and I think that’s one of my favorite aspects of this book. That beings from stories aren’t absent, but real, breathing and occasionally bleeding living things. It’s not unusual for gods (Tangaloa, Nakoa, Leinani, Yam, and the others) to visit the islands, dishing out gifts and punishments, but their presence is always a blessing – of some sort. Kaimana definitely gets more than her fair share of these encounters during the book and her adventures. To her credit, she does not let her fear get in the way and even stands up to them when needed. Which is saying something when you have to stand up to the god of war. That takes some balls. Or…um…let’s settle with bravery.
My other favorite thing about Where the Waters Turn Black is the friendship between Kaimana and Rakau. It builds up slowly from beginning to end and it’s just as uplifting and heartbreaking and real as any other friendship is. But it’s also as pure and unconditional as only an animal-human friendship can be. I don’t read nearly enough books with an animal companion, which is such a shame. I’m also a sucker for stories about found families and this book definitely ticks that particular box of mine off as well.
And did I even mention the folktales between chapters? Aside from Patrick‘s widely imaginative world, these folktales are what is drawing me to the Yarnsworld so much. They not only tell interesting stories and teach valuable life lessons but also are an integral part of the book. They are giving depth to certain characters and let us learn more about the world without the necessity of info dumps in the main text. It’s a really cool way of storytelling. Patrick is crazy talented at bringing characters into life and make them seem real even if they are only secondary ones.
For Where the Waters Turn Black, Patrick drew inspiration from Polynesian stories and legends, which I find highly interesting. To the point that I’m tempted to do a bit of research to learn more. Not that I know much about this culture, but to my mind, Patrick‘s writing is making the islands and their people and gods and creatures alive. It just makes me wish I could travel all over the world – imagined or otherwise. Then again, I probably wouldn’t survive too long…
Epic in scope, but with its less than 250 pages, this is a compact book you can read just in one sitting if you need to get away from everyday life. And who doesn’t need a great escape to a world where the water is crystal clear (well, except when it turns black, in which case you probably better get away as you are getting close to Leinani’s volcano and you really don’t want to piss her off), the sky is blue and the islands are green and lush and full of vibrant life, and where the gods and taniwha are walking among the people?
I said many times before that Benedict Patrick had become one of my favorite authors over the years, and it was Where the Waters Turn Black that sealed the deal for me of becoming a Yarnsworld fangirl. And I’m not even into fangirling. Anyway. You are really missing out on an amazing journey if you don’t read these books. And before I start sounding like a broken record, let me just say this: Where the Waters Turn Black is as close to perfection as a book can be. It’s got music, magic, monsters, gods, found family, adventure, and a heroine who fights to write her own story. What would you do to earn a place in legends? Would you befriend a monster and deal with gods even if you might die trying? Kaimana certainly did all that and more.
Do yourself a favor, start reading the Yarnsworld novels today!