I have already popped a version of this review up on Goodreads/Amazon, but I wanted to make sure it’s up here too – in the interest of thoroughness!
Where the Waters Turn Black by Benedict Patrick is an indie fantasy novel and has been on my TBR for a long, long time. To my shame I kept pushing it back in favour of other books because I really wanted to read it and was saving it up to give myself a treat.
I’m sorry it took as long as it did, but I am so glad I got to it as with this book Benedict Patrick has secured himself as one of my favourite authors.
This book has a wonderful cover that ties it into the first in the Yarnsworld series but also makes it feel different. Although I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, I think you can put stock in how much effort was put into the cover and here there’s a lot of thought and effort on show.
The book itself follows a similar set up to They Mostly Come Out At Night (Benedict Patrick’s first book, which I also loved) in that there are miniature stories nestled in between the chapters and they are, just as before, wonderful little fairy tales that expand the world as we go.
It almost feels like a mix between the movies Moana and How to Train Your Dragon but all grown up. And I mean that in the best way; I loved both of those movies for different reasons and this book brings those reasons together. It’s a fresh setting; the Crescent Atoll is not another fantasy set in a kind of medieval Europe. And the monsters in the stories are all wonderfully different and just reasonable enough to be relatable but also able to turn into the monsters from stories in an instant.
The gist of the story is that Kaimana, an ocarina player in a travelling troupe of performers, wanders off before a big performance to find a taniwha – a legendary monster. The taniwha are mythical but also part and parcel of life in the Atoll and some villages/islands live peacefully alongside taniwha if they leave them alone/offer them food every now and again. But of course, Kaimana’s encounter with a taniwha doesn’t end well and sets off the book’s story proper.
Benedict Patrick’s writing is clear, concise and pulls you in straight away. Although the setting is different to anything I’ve personally read before it felt familiar and comfortable almost at once. There are some lovely phrases in here which I like to have in a book and there was at least one moment where I got goosebumps.
Honestly, I love recommending Benedict Patrick’s books. The stories are fresh and well told but the author presents them in a way that is familiar and comforting all at once. I very much look forward to the next one!