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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

Dark Water Daughter (The Winter Sea #1 ) | Review

Rating - ⭐⭐

"Mary Firth is a Stormsinger: a woman whose voice can still hurricanes and shatter armadas. Faced with servitude to pirate lord Silvanus Lirr, Mary offers her skills to his arch-rival in exchange for protection - and, more importantly, his help sending Lirr to a watery grave. But her new ally has a vendetta of his own, and Mary's dreams are dark and full of ghistings, spectral creatures who inhabit the ancient forests of her homeland and the figureheads of ships.

Samuel Rosser is a disgraced naval officer serving aboard The Hart, an infamous privateer commissioned to bring Lirr to justice. He will stop at nothing to capture Lirr, restore his good name and reclaim the only thing that stands between himself and madness: a talisman stolen by Mary.

Finally, driven into the eternal ice at the limits of their world, Mary and Samuel must choose their loyalties and battle forces older and more powerful than the pirates who would make them slaves."


Dark Water Daughter is the first novel in The Winter Sea, an adult fantasy series by H.M. Long.

This book initially captured my attention with the promise of pirates and ships, because that is one of my favourite concepts albeit rarely done well (based on what I have read so far). This, sadly, did not end up impressing me and failed to meet any expectations I had for it.

Let's just get right into the details.




This story follows two different perspectives, neither of which I liked. I will get more into that in the characters section, but for now, I will say that it was not necessary to follow Samuel's perspective. I found that following him detracted from the story and Mary's character arc, and it didn't end up adding much to the narrative anyway despite it giving another side to the conflict. We end up spending too much time with a character who isn't the main one, and it does the story no favours. The sudden shift in perspective, especially after something crucial happened, was also really jarring and upset the flow of the story. The flow of the story as a whole, which I will talk more about in the next section, was very off.




To be fair, I thought the book had a pretty good first chapter as it really started out the story with a bang, but it couldn't maintain that momentum after that. That also being said, the story starts out abruptly and barely any context is given as to how the main character got into that situation. When we do get that context, it is done so in a really confusing manner which is an issue with the writing.

I got halfway through the book and nothing happened, and when the story did start to pick up after a while, I found it was rather jumbled. The conflicts were a mess and the resolution was way too easy. Everything in between the start and the end just wasn't interesting and is going to be rather forgettable considering I don't have much else to say about the story here. If certain aspects of the story had been moved around chronologically it could have been a bit better, but that is only one flaw of the book of many.

Moving onto the worldbuilding, there were some intriguing concepts. A stormsinger does make a lot of sense given the context of the story, though it isn't the first time I have seen the concept of someone being able to control the weather and tides to make a ship move faster. The idea that they could be taken and literally chained to the bulkhead is wild, and I wish it ended up having more weight in the story in terms of conflict but it didn't.




The characters on the whole are rather one-dimensional. They didn't end up feeling like real people and they all needed more fleshing out. For example, Fisher was a pretty important side character but her development was so non-existent it was like she was barely there. She had no backstory at all and ended up feeling unimportant even though she had a pretty prominent role in Samuel's perspective. Even though she was a side character, one sign of a good book for me is fleshing out all of your characters.

The same could be said for the rest of the side characters as well. Most of the characters, while also being not developed enough, were underutilized. Grant should have been more important considering how he was introduced, Demery could have been an interesting character if he was shown more, and Mary's mom should have been better established as well considering she is a major conflict point for Mary.

The antagonists were poorly written as well. I like a good villain, but the ones in here had the making of something good (or technically bad in this case), but the ones in here were just kind of there to serve their purpose and nothing else. They weren't compelling at all.

Even the interactions between the characters fell flat. Mary should have had some level of chemistry, if that is the right word to use, with Charles and Samuel but, like many things in the book, they fell flat. The tension between the twins was better initially which is a bit sad. And, somehow, I found that she had more chemistry with a pirate captain who was probably more than twice her age.




A book with low stakes, barely any tension, poor conflict, flat characters and an uninteresting plot. This missed on so many levels for me which is sad because I wanted this to be a good pirate book. Nothing in this had any impact in the end, and I am left questioning why this is part of a series.

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