The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska combines the lush, haunted seaside atmosphere of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races with a to-die-for queer romance that will keep your heart racing. This gorgeous standalone novel crystallizes all that makes dark, romantic fantasy such an alluring subgenre. The magic shines on the page, inviting readers of Natasha Ngan’s Girls of Paper and Fire, Naomi Novik, and Shirley Jackson to dive right in.
In a city teetering on the edge of the sea, a witch-queen keeps the waters at bay by falling in love with a boy — only to drown him on the next full moon as a sacrifice to the tide. When Lina Kirk offers to take the place of the boy she (thinks she) loves, both she and the queen are suddenly in over their heads…
For me, it was love at first sight with Jasinska’s debut fantasy. A witch-queen who sacrifices boys to the sea? A plucky heroine determined to save her crush, Tam Lin-style, from this fate? Only to find herself falling for his captor, putting herself in danger of death when the witch-queen begins to fall for her, too? Poetry.
The Dark Tide is one of those books that filled a niche on my shelf that I didn’t even know was empty. I compare it to a lot of other dark fantasy titles not because it is at all derivative — no, I’ve never read anything like The Dark Tide — but because it successfully pulls together so many elements from books I already love into an entirely new package. The messy, high-drama sapphic romance is fantastic, and the drowning city full of magic and superstition is unforgettable.
Jasinska’s upcoming The Midnight Girls (out December 7th) is much the same, and I’ll be writing another article about it on the release day. This author has skyrocketed right up my list of favorite writers, and I hope more readers fall in love with her books as much as I have.
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