Book Review: “In Deeper Waters” by F. T. Lukens

This was one of the lessons his mother wanted him to learn on his journey. This was his coming-of-age.

About This Book

Length: 312 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQIA+

Release Date: April 20, 2022

Book Description

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.

Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.

That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

My Review

★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

He wouldn’t give in. His magic surged and ebbed like the waves that rocked the vessel, but he didn’t release it. Though he burned from the inside with hot embers, he wouldn’t give Zeph the satisfaction or the leverage. That piece of himself would remain his own.

This was a fun book. Fast-paced, fairytale-like, and full of good character development.

I enjoyed the two main characters, Tal and Athlen, as well as their dynamic with one another. I liked Tal’s character arc, in they he started as a bit of a naive and spoiled prince, but really grows responsible an courageous as the story goes on.

I liked how mysterious Athlen felt to Tal and the others he interacted with (at first), even though it was obvious from even the book’s synopsis that he’s clearly a merman. His banter and his dynamic personality were also pretty engaging.

“I’m glad it’s you because you are a good person. You can be a little shit sometimes, but out of the five of us, you have the softest heart. It’s a good attribute to have when wielding so much power.”

The biggest highlight of In Deeper Waters, for me, was all the family bonding going on. It doesn’t happen as much until the second half (spoiler?), but it was super heartwarming whenever it happened in the novel. I loved how funny Tal’s oldest brother Garrett was, and how kind his other brother Kest was. Kest was also an adorable bird shifter.

Isa, Tal’s older sister and future queen, was smart and supportive to him, and his younger sister, Corrie, was, as the book describes it: “a spitfire.” But all of the siblings had their own amount of sass, including Tal himself, and I adored it whenever it appeared on the page. I love sarcasm.

“I’ve got you.”

“I know.” His breath was cool on Tal’s neck. “For how long?”

“Until you tell me to let go.”

I felt that the romance between Tal and Athlen wasn’t too rushed (like insta-love) but that it wasn’t a slow-burn either. Which was something I found to be refreshing, as for most books it’s either one or the other. It got a bit rushed towards the ending, but so did a few things.

“The world isn’t kind,” Tal said […] “But that doesn’t mean I can’t be.”

Yeah… The villains and the climax weren’t great. The villains were pretty bland, which isn’t always too bad, but I usually like antagonists to have at least either an interesting backstory or personality. And no, it doesn’t have to be tragic or make the villain more sympathetic. I just want them to be slightly interesting. And these antagonists weren’t too interesting.

Zeph was a bit of a boring minor villain, but we didn’t really get to know much about her, and, she failed to be more dynamic in my eyes. And the true antagonist was even worse. Clearly, this was more of a protagonist driven story, even the plot was slightly secondary to this.

And the climax! UGH! It kinda sucked, if I’m being honest. It moved far too fast, one thing constantly happening after another, and it was a little annoying. I’m not gonna spoil anything for anyone though. And hey, the epilogue chapter was really sweet, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I’ll give it that.

Anyways, this book was pretty decent, and I definitely recommend it to those who enjoy fantasy, romance, fairytales, and rep. (And man was the rep good!)

Have you read In Deeper Waters? What did you think of it? Thanks for tuning in!

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