Beneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela Deen

by Justine Bergman
Beneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela Deen



The Blurb

After a violent storm destroys her ship, Isaura Johansdottir knows better than to hope she’ll be rescued from Eisland’s vast Failock Sea. Adrift and alone, her plans to start over lost, it’s a tragic conclusion after the disastrous end of her marriage—until she’s saved by Leonel, one of the merfolk, a creature long believed extinct. In repayment for her life, Leonel enlists her help to investigate the Failock’s mysterious and deadly plague of squalls. But when Isaura discovers Eisland’s ruthless new Lord commands the storms, her life will be in more danger on land than it ever was at sea.

As guardian of the Fathoms, Leonel must find the cause of unnatural storms ravaging the tidal currents and destroying the sea life. There are rumors of dark magic stirring in the Orom Abyss, the resting place of old, vanquished gods who tried to submerge the land millennia ago. Yet without proof, no one in King Ægir’s court will listen to him. And if it’s discovered he broke the Blue Laws to save a shipwrecked landweller, he might not survive the consequences.

As storms spread, Leonel and Isaura uncover secrets as forbidden as the bond that grows between them. Betrayal lurks in the restless sea, and when ancient powers lay siege to Eisland’s coast, the truth may be drowned along with everything else.

The Review


Doesn’t friendship feed the soul? We all need people in our lives we can count on, including those we only know for a season. Even if someone isn’t in your life forever, the time you knew them can change everything.

Beneath Cruel Fathoms is an uplifting tale of courage and self-reflection, set in a world dominated by the crushing pressure of expectation and dangers lurking in the depths. Anela Deen’s Fantasy Romance combines the the fantastical elements of mythology with highly relatable, all-too-real elements of the burdens of life, where one’s roots are completely irrelevant. An account of a forbidden, delicate love, and a deep tenacity to right wrongs, readers are swept along the tides of a story that touches upon several devastating sentiments, but allows them to breach the surface with moments of respite filled with charming banter and silent introspection. I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for quite some time, and I’m so glad I’ve finally gotten the chance.

Deen weaves a compelling mystery where two seemingly independent plot lines converge, creating a high-stakes race for answers as an ancient danger threatens all. Her ability to portray a story with darker aesthetics in a surprisingly light manner is superb, balancing the severity of the approaching menace with moments of refreshing, airy humor. Witty retorts aplenty, the book remains serious when necessary, making this a truly emotional journey to embark on. Told with a simple, yet flowing prose, the narrative paves the way for readers to become deeply invested in the characters as peril closes in on all sides. Filled with twists and turns and unexpected revelations, this is definitely a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting for the answers to reveal themselves.

The exceptional characterization is where this book truly shines. Readers witness the story unfurl through the eyes of Isaura, a human healer, and Leonel, guardian of the sea, by way of alternating chapters. Isaura, suffering the fresh wounds of the past, finds herself on a hunt for resolution, and in turn discovers truths that lie within. Leonel, a mortal child of a goddess torn between the worlds of the finite and the infinite, battles between what he has been taught and what he inherently recognizes. Each face heartbreaking realities in utter solitude. Both find solace in the most unexpected of places. In addition, an excellent supporting cast of characters aid our two leads along their paths in their own contrasting ways, each serving a distinct purpose and perfectly fleshing out this story.

You are not alone.

This is a tale of connection at first sight, followed by a blooming, organic love profound enough to shift the balance. From their initial encounter there’s a tender yearning between Isaura and Leonel, one that neither is prepared to contend with. As creatures of two worlds, their passion is one that shouldn’t transpire, but their aching hearts pine for a healing salve, and their personal beliefs of being undeserving of happiness are slowly chipped away by patience and trust. The realities they face are shattering, but together, hand-in-hand, they face the uncertainties of the world and triumph.

The atmospheric, Norse-inspired alternate world readers are transported to is vividly illustrated, immersing us in the magic of myth. Indifferent deities, merfolk, draugr, sirens, and old gods populate the sea, while humans remain steadfast on the shores. A clashing of cultures born of old grudges and new grievances is apparent as strife batters the realms, where the fate of all becomes tangled in the silken webs of the immortals. Each setting, from Isaura’s quaint family farm to the majestic halls of Aegirheim, holds truths and trinkets to uncover. However, for fear of ruining the experience, I’ll leave the nooks and crannies for you to discover on your own.

Beneath Cruel Fathoms is a story of a consuming love crafted to withstand the onslaught of the unknown and overcome the hardships blockading the path to genuine happiness. While the story closes up nicely, a few untied threads and unanswered questions remain for the future of this world, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing my journey in the rest of The Bitter Sea Trilogy. If you’re looking for an inspirational tale of unwavering resolve with characters that discover their truest strength along the way, then this may be the one for you. I thoroughly recommend.

My Rating: 4

Note: A huge thank you to the author for a complementary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Author

A child of two cultures, this hapa haole Hawaiian girl is currently landlocked in the Midwest. After exploring the world for a chunk of years, she hunkered down in Minnesota and now fills her days with family, fiction, and the occasional snowstorm. With a house full of lovable toddlers, a three-legged cat, and one handsome Dutchman, she prowls the keyboard late at night while the minions sleep. Coffee? Nah, she prefers tea with a generous spoonful of sarcasm.

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