This follow-up to the Queens of Renthia fantasy trilogy (The Queen of Sorrow, 2018, etc.) shifts to the island nation of Belene, where the vicious nature spirits are mainly aquatic but the human predators seem much the same.
Oyster diver Mayara is forced to reveal her power over the spirits on the day of her wedding to her beloved childhood friend Kelo when a violent spirit storm overwhelms her fishing village. That brings her to the attention of the queen, her heirs, and the queen’s magically gifted guard, the Silent Ones. Now, Mayara has a choice: give up her family and her voice by joining the Silent Ones, or compete to become one of the queen’s heirs by surviving 30 days on the deadly island of Akena, swarming with bloodthirsty nature spirits. Believing Kelo to be dead, Mayara makes the more dangerous choice of the island, where she befriends Roe, another potential heir, and learns that the spirits aren’t the only peril on Akena. Meanwhile, Queen Asana has her own troubles. Although she possesses great magical power, enough to keep the leviathans of the ocean depths asleep, she lacks the political power to rule the people of Belene; that lies in the hands of the powerful noble families who hold her parents and daughter hostage. Can the current system be overthrown, or are there some traditions it’s too hazardous to lose? It's delightful to re-encounter the sociopath Garnah, the brutally honest alchemist and poisoner who is also the mother-in-law of Queen Daleina of Aratay. Now serving as Queen Asana’s adviser, she is the only character to carry over from the previous books, but unfortunately, the basic plot from the previous books carried over, too.
Although changing venue from deep forest to the coast breathes a certain amount of fresh life into the series, this is now the fourth book involving a battle for rule and a race to the coronation grove; it would be nice if future books explored other conflicts and possibilities in Renthia.