March 4, 2019

The Murderous Nature of Water | Whispers from the Depths by C. W. Briar

Whispers from the Depths
By C. W. Briar
Released on February 19, 2019
YA Dark Fantasy
Trigger Warning: Sexual harassment, gory violence, drowning, and slavery

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

Joyful and blessed are Voice-bearers, for the Heavens have set them apart.
As Whisperers gifted with the Voice, Betka and her people are enslaved. Only they can control the dangerous spirits that haunt the waters, but they are forced to serve under cruel taskmasters. Betka has little hope of freedom from her service or her own bitterness.
They toil for the goodness of others.
A powerful water spirit terrorizes the castle where Betka’s sister is serving. Betka is assigned to the crew sailing to face the foe, and she fears for the only family she has left.
Rage is found nowhere in them.
In the beleaguered, flooded castle, a new threat awaits—a magic more powerful and horrifying than anything they have ever seen. Loyalties will be tested, and enemies will become desperate allies.
Betka is their only hope of escape—if she can subdue the wrath that endangers them all.
She who wields the waters for revenge drowns herself tenfold.


Some books start out with a bang and others have more humble starts. Whispers from the Depths started as the title suggests, subtle murmurs that crescendoed into an action-packed fight against nature itself. 

The magical system is a unique twist on the elemental trope. Instead of the standard four elements (think Avatar the Last Airbender) the only water can be manipulated by those gifted with the Voice. The only catch is that the water spirits can also control the water, and not always for the better. 

The magical system is distinct from both the trope of water creatures, like sirens and mermaids, while also differentiating itself from the standard elemental system. The concept of only controlling one element may sound boring, but the focus on water made for extremely creative uses of the power.

Betka's journey is one of both fear, family, and self-discovery. Her character development raises like the waves she learns to control. The journey starts as a way to reunite with her sister and turns into much more along the way (but the heart-warming theme of family stays strong throughout the novel too).

However, the novel is not just Betka's journey, but quest for many different characters. The flashbacks from various people really helped flesh out their characters, for both the heroes and the villains. The culture and the social struggle came alive through the interwoven narratives. The story incorporates perspectives from different generations, social classes, and statuses to create a full-bodied view of the culture, including its flaws. 

There were times was the plot was a little slow and harder to follow due to some magical jargon and complications, but the overall effect of the fantasy elements was impressive.

I loved the gruesome, brutal details. Some may doubt that humble water can cause any damage, but I think I would rather face a wall of fire than the fierce water personified throughout the story. Some parts of the novel were so magical and contemplative, which was gloriously interrupted by intense periods of action with no bit of gore forgotten in the description. Believe me, there are more ways to die from water than merely drowning. If you are morbidly curious about the plentiful ways to perish from H2O, then this is the book for you.

If, like a more normal person, you aren't interested in the morbid side of the sea, then Whispers from the Depths also offers a unique twist on the elemental story with wholesome family feels and spiritual explorations that beautifully contrast with the story's violent side. Key moments of humor also lighten the plot when it seems like everything is sinking. There may have been slow patches, but Whispers from the Depths ultimately found its Voice along the way, helped by the complexity of it characters and world.

About the Author

C. W. Briar writes fantasy that’s dark but hopeful, filled with wonder and humor along with suspense and creepiness. His favorite stories are the ones that make him both smile and perch on the edge of his seat. By day, he works as a systems engineer, testing or even riding on trains, airplanes, and helicopters. At night, when not writing, he prepares fancy dinners and shows off his awesome corgis. He’s a graduate of Binghamton University and lives in Upstate NY with his wife, three kids, and secret stashes of chocolate.


Enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Whispers from the Depths and a necklace inspired by the beautiful book cover!

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This tour was Organized by YA Bound Book Tours. You can follow the rest of the tour here.
Have you ever read a book that only focused on one element? Which element do you think is the most deadly? What is your favorite twist on the elemental trope? 

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