Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Book Review: Submerged

by A.M. Deese
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As book 2 of a series, readers will know, including myself, going in that there are characters and plot to remember. But I have to say: either my memory is terrible, it’s been far too long since I read book 1, or the prompts in the narrative to remind the reader are poorly implemented in Submerged. It took me until almost halfway through to feel like I had a sense for all our characters, locations, politics, etc. I suspect it’s a bit of all three contributors that led me to really struggle at the beginning. Now in fairness there is a large cast of characters, locations, politics, religions, etc. to contend with here. Yet I often read elaborate fantasy books and do not usually have as much trouble as I had here with A.M. Deese's second offering in the Dance of the Elements series.

Submerged continues immediately following book 1’s cliffhanger and takes no time at all to get ramped up. We are thrown back into the elaborate game of politics, war, and treachery that began in Ignited. Were the characters a bit more developed, and a little less cliché, Submerged could easily move from being in any sort of new adult category to straight-up fantasy. I think what Deese really needs is a strong fantasy editor; perhaps from Orbit or TOR to really nail down some character traits, facts, and world development. I’m not saying this will be Sanderson level quality (who is really?). With a couple rewrites and good editing there truly is a solid story and cast of antagonists and protagonists. These sentiments echo my thoughts on book 1. A really great editor could make this series so much more!

Finally, fair warning, there is an epic cliffhanger here just as there was in book one. As with many middle series books it feels (at times) that the story didn’t progress very far. Although, I do believe there is a resolution of sorts here; even if the cliffhanger makes you revolt a bit with its drive to pull the story into book three. I really enjoyed our two main gals (finally!) meeting one another (not a spoiler, it had to happen eventually for the series to progress), and felt that the romantic interests were tamed down and allowed the politics and plot to stand-out more. This was a huge plus for me as I usually can do with less romantic stuff in the average book marketed such as Submerged has been.

I hope Deese continues to promote and write her book series. Even if a part of me also hopes a bigger fantasy publisher steps in to give Dance of the Elements series a more fantasy texture and elevate it to the level I think it could be.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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