Hello, everyone! I have had absolutely no motivation for blogging recently, which is why this post is publishing so late in the evening. Things will likely be sporadic for a while, but I’m trying to avoid a full hiatus because of all the ARCs I need to review. I’m very excited to talk about this book, though, because it was one of my most anticipated reads of the fall season. Read on to find out my thoughts about Curious Tides by Pascale Lacelle!
Ninth House meets A Deadly Education in this gorgeous dark academia fantasy following a teen mage who must unravel the truth behind the secret society that may have been involved in her classmates’ deaths.
Emory might be a student at the prestigious Aldryn College for Lunar Magics, but her healing abilities have always been mediocre at best—until a treacherous night in the Dovermere sea caves leaves a group of her classmates dead and her as the only survivor. Now Emory is plagued by strange, impossible powers that no healer should possess.
Powers that would ruin her life if the wrong person were to discover them.
To gain control of these new abilities, Emory enlists the help of the school’s most reclusive student, Baz—a boy already well-versed in the deadly nature of darker magic, whose sister happened to be one of the drowned students and Emory’s best friend. Determined to find the truth behind the drownings and the cult-like secret society she’s convinced her classmates were involved in, Emory is faced with even more questions when the supposedly drowned students start washing ashore— alive —only for them each immediately to die horrible, magical deaths.
And Emory is not the only one seeking answers. When her new magic captures the society’s attention, she finds herself drawn into their world of privilege and power, all while wondering if the truth she’s searching for might lead her right back to Dovermere…to face the fate she was never meant to escape.
If you’ve followed my reviews/blog at all, you know how much I love dark academia. I was so excited when I read the synopsis of Curious Tides and immediately added it to my TBR, along with pre-ordering a copy. I love both of the books it was compared to and had high expectations of this story. Were my expectations met? Mostly, yes. Although, I think it’d be safer to say Curious Tides is Ninth House meets The Magicians, rather than A Deadly Education.
The vibes in Curious Tides were exactly what I was looking for in a new dark academia story. There was a magic school with secret societies and a tragic past. There were tons of juicy mysteries for the characters to explore, and all of it was shrouded in a somewhat gloomy atmosphere that made the campus and its surroundings feel dangerous. There was a significant focus on training and learning, but most of it was outside the classroom since the main character’s powers had to remain a secret from the teachers. It had pretty much everything I’ve come to expect from dark academia, and it made me happy. 🙂
The plot of Curious Tides kept me intrigued. Unfortunately, the pace did languish a bit, especially in the beginning. There was so much focus on the world-building and setting up the mysteries that it felt like things didn’t start to happen until a long way into the book. I didn’t mind it that much, though, because I found it all to be interesting, even though some details did get repetitive. The magic system and its connections with the history of the world were complex, and it took me a while to really grasp it all. So, maybe the repetition was good? I don’t know. Just don’t expect action at every turn because things move at a glacial pace.
I enjoyed reading from the POV of both main characters in Curious Tides. Emory was dealing with grief from losing her best friend, as well as the trauma she experienced herself. She had significant self-worth issues that the loss of her friend forced to the forefront now that Emory couldn’t hide in her shadow. It didn’t help that she had all these new forbidden powers and so many questions about what happened to her friend. She ended up turning to a secret society for answers, and her best friend’s brother, Baz, for help with her powers. I liked her journey to believing in her own worth, but I hated how she manipulated Baz. I’m not ready to forgive her yet.
The other POV in Curious Tides, Baz, was the heart of this novel. He wanted to help others so badly, but he was deathly afraid of his power and potential, which made him a recluse and a bit of an anxious mess. He was nerdy and adorable and so neurotic. He deserved all the hugs in the world. I liked that his and Emory’s stories were separate but intertwined. There were plenty of moments where Baz really shined during his own investigations into his tragic past, as well as times when they worked great as a team. Baz and Kai better be endgame, though, or I will riot. Emory does NOT deserve him.
Overall, I really enjoyed Curious Tides. It had everything I wanted from a dark academia story, along with some great mysteries and a really intricate magic system. I think this could have been a 5-star read for me if 100 pages had been cut and the pace quickened just a bit. As it stands, I rate Curious Tides 4 out of 5 stars.