“The god in the river speaks to us in the language of small things.”
Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.
Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.
From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.
TW: death (including family death), gun violence
This book was a joy.
I mean that wholeheartedly. I was enamored with every minute of it, from the moment I cracked open the book and found the lovely map, to when I first met headstrong, fierce, wonderful Caro, to sailing down the marshy, atmospheric river, to feeling the strong Greek influences on the story. This was a book match absolutely made in heaven, and I’m kicking myself for taking so long to getting around to reading it.
Easily my favorite thing was the plot. It felt so solidly crafted, and it meshed so well with the characters’ personalities. There is a highly political aspect of it, and yet I loved it all the same because it wasn’t court politics so much as out and about in the wide dangerous world politics. Too often, a book that has a facet rooted in political intrigue is the same court games that make it unclear who can be trusted, but Song of the Current very quickly revealed who was an ally and who was not (with a couple exceptions I’m sure will be fleshed out in Whisper of the Tide), and the plot was not about nervously seeking answers. It was about taking charge and pressing on. There was a goal, there were obstacles, and through all of it, the main characters fought tooth and nail to survive it.
It’s nice, reading a straightforward fantasy. It’s genuinely nice not to sit around being suspicious of every single character that enters the narrative because I know who the protagonists are, and I know I want them to succeed.
And ohhhh, did I want it. Caro was truly wonderful: rough around the edges and determined, for the most part sure of herself, and clever enough to make up for those moments when the doubt kicks in. She’s hardly perfect, but she is INTENSE, and I really liked her. Not to mention she played perfectly off of Markos, creating one of the few enemies to lovers relationships I adored. They never once tried to kill each other, which feels like it happens too often with the most popular enemies to lovers ships. Instead, they just hated each others guts until they didn’t, until Caro saw that Markos had some talents and positive traits of his own, and Markos saw that Caro was more than a rough and tumble simple wherryman’s daughter.
Also, the sheer amount of FAMILY in this story. Caro’s parents aren’t dead (cue me just jumping for joy because FINALLY), and they’re even involved in certain plot points in such a way that made me so happy. No parent would want their seventeen year old to go on a dangerous adventure, which is why parents don’t go with the kids in YA, but they were involved nonetheless, and in ways that worked extremely well with Caro’s situation. I never felt like they were too absent, nor did I feel like they were too overbearing. It was a delicate balance to strike, and it was struck really well!
There’s also the matter of Markos’s family, less positive within the plot, but phenomenally fleshed out. Everything about his family had a heartbreaking fullness and realness to it that I fell in love with, especially as someone who has younger siblings. Hand me a protective older sibling and I will adopt them and identify with them ASAP. That’s just how it works, folks.
And the atmosphere, oh my goodness. I could practically feel the river all around, the way it adds scent to the air and how the land around it grows and thrives in answer and the presence of the boats on the water and the lanterns in the night and UGH. It was incredibly atmospheric, and that was only improved by the confidence Caro had in sailing her wherry down the river. Honestly, all the sailing terms could have been made up and I wouldn’t know the difference, but it was delivered in such a way that I felt truly confident it was real and written as true to life as possible and everything. It just left me with such a satisfied feeling.
Possibly the only disappointment was that the plot twists were visible a mile away for me, but like I said, I thrived on the fact that this book was not a complicated tale of court intrigue and betrayal. It was fierce and straightforward and honest, and even if that meant the plot twists were readily visible, I can’t lower my rating because it works as a whole.
This is one of the few reads this year that has been a solid, true five stars, and I’m so eager to get my hands on Whisper of the Tide. It’s got a pretty cover, for starters, and I’m READY to see what Caro and Markos have gotten themselves into next. I’m invested and delighted and well and truly in love with this book in a way I’m not sure I have been with any particular series for a long time. If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend that you hop to it, because it was well worth the time!
Think you’ll check Song of the Current out now? Already read it? Tell me what you think!