May 21, 2016

The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross | Fantasy Persians are awesome

The Midnight Sea 
By Kat Ross 
Fourth Element #1 
Published on May 10th 2016
326 Pages
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

This book was provided to me from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.

They are the light against the darkness.The steel against the necromancy of the Druj.And they use demons to hunt demons….
Nazafareen lives for revenge. A girl of the isolated Four-Legs Clan, all she knows about the King’s elite Water Dogs is that they bind wicked creatures called daevas to protect the empire from the Undead. But when scouts arrive to recruit young people with the gift, she leaps at the chance to join their ranks. To hunt the monsters that killed her sister. Scarred by grief, she’s willing to pay any price, even if it requires linking with a daeva named Darius. Human in body, he’s possessed of a terrifying power, one that Nazafareen controls. But the golden cuffs that join them have an unwanted side effect. Each experiences the other’s emotions, and human and daeva start to grow dangerously close. As they pursue a deadly foe across the arid waste of the Great Salt Plain to the glittering capital of Persepolae, unearthing the secrets of Darius’s past along the way, Nazafareen is forced to question his slavery—and her own loyalty to the empire. But with an ancient evil stirring in the north, and a young conqueror sweeping in from the west, the fate of an entire civilization may be at stake…


I have honestly never read anything like The Midnight Sea, which is quite impressive considering the amount of fantasy novels that I devour. The setting was completely new to me, and was the magic in the world. I had never heard of anything like daevas, which was refreshing since some ideas and magic systems tend to be reused in fantasy novels. Even though elemental magic was the basis of the system, the addition of local lore and mythology as well as the complication of demons and daevas made the fantasy aspects stand out.

The world was pretty much awesome. The atmosphere of the setting that Ross created was extremely immersive and I was thoroughly intrigued by the culture she swiftly created. Throughout the novel, Ross crafts an intense culture that shaped the world and ultimately led to a better setting, a rich plot, and dynamic characters. Ross never lost focus throughout the novel, and kept her world consistently interesting and different. The mix of historical fiction in the setting of ancient Persia and the fantasy elements meshed really well together.

The real gem of this novel is the cast of characters. All of the characters are unique and have their own demons to fight (both literally and metaphorically). Our main character, Nazafareen, starts the story as a grief-stricken girl who is drowning in her own guilt and bitterness. I loved her transformation into a butt-kicking heroine who did not lose touch with her roots. 

I also adore Darius and the rest of the daevas. Each character had a carefully constructed story within themselves that added to the overall effect of the novel. For example, it turns out that Darius is so much more than a supposed demon. Ross paints his story as a progression, very similar to the arc of Nazafareen's character.

Ross painted the daevas in a interesting light, leaving the readers to determine their true nature and motives until the bitter end. The gray morality and questioning of the accepted values of culture were also amazing aspects of the plot. Speaking of which, the plot kept me in suspense and urged me to finish as quickly as possible.

I also love the brutality of the novel. Not everything is lollipops and unicorns during the story. There is heartbreak, fighting, death, and destruction. Nothing is sugar-coated, which I personally love. Ross managed to stay true to her characters and her world even though it was not exactly pretty. The rawness of the novel led to the world feeling more authentic to me.

Honestly, it is hard to believe that this is one of Ross's first novels. The characters, world-building, and plot are all the quality expected from a well-seasoned author. It is clear that she has a lot of talent and I cannot wait to see what the rest of her writing career will bring.

About the Author

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.


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Are you planning on reading The Midnight Sea? Have you ever read a book about magic Persians? What is the last fantasy book that you read and loved? Have you ever been tricking into thinking a debut author was really a well-seasoned writer?

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