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Title: The Descent of the Drowned
Author: Ana Lal Din
Publisher: White Tigress Press
Genre: Fantasy |Retelling |Mythology
Publication Date: March 15, 2021
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The words stuck within Roma’s head.
What was choice and what was fate?
She realized she didn’t know.
The Descent of the Drowned Synopsis
She is bound to serve. He is meant to kill. Survival is their prison. Choice is their weapon.
As the sacred slave of a goddess, Roma is of a lower caste that serves patrons to sustain the balance between gods and men. What she wants is her freedom, but deserters are hunted and hanged, and Roma only knows how to survive in her village where women are vessels without a voice. When her younger brother is condemned to the same wretched fate as hers, Roma must choose between silence and rebellion.
Leviathan is the bastard son of an immortal tyrant. Raised in a military city where everyone knows of his blood relation to the persecuted clans, Leviathan is considered casteless. Lowest of the low. Graduating as one of the deadliest soldiers, he executes in his father’s name, displaying his worth. When he faces judgement from his mother’s people—the clans—Leviathan must confront his demons and forge his own path, if he ever hopes to reclaim his soul.
But in the struggle to protect the people they love and rebuild their identities, Roma’s and Leviathan’s destinies interlock as the tyrant hunts an ancient treasure that will doom humankind should it come into his possession—a living treasure to which Roma and Leviathan are the ultimate key.
Set in a colonised Indo-Persian world and inspired by pre-Islamic Arabian mythology, The Descent of the Drowned is a tale about power, identity, and redemption, and what it takes to hold on to one’s humanity in the face of devastation.
The Descent of the Drowned Review
Ana Lal Din writes a dark and compelling story set in a Indo-Persian world that raises awareness of issues that still have footholds in society today. This book has some MAJOR triggers in it, including rape (involving young kids and teens), self-harm, torture, human trafficking, murder, physical abuse, and religious punishment, so readers be warned. This book is currently categorized in the Young Adult section. But this is definitely a New Adult book, if not higher. It is not meant for YOUNG readers. It is definitely meant to be read by an older, more mature audience.
This book has a lot of themes and topics in it. Both dark and light. The story is well researched and developed. The traumatic events depicted in the novel elicit compassion for the characters, provide insight into the characters’ world and show how these events are part of everyday life. But there is also themes of hope, faith, family, and love intertwined.
Roma, my heart aches for her. She is a lamiadasis and is a slave to Mother Lamia, the Goddess-Wife of Lord Biran. Roma serves male patrons, akin to being a sacred prostitute. She is assaulted by her first patron and chooses to fight her fate. She is very cynical, strong-willed, and resilient. She hopes for a future where she would be free of slavery. She makes irreversible choices as Leviathon’s and her fates become intertwined. Levi, the bastard son of the tyrant, returns from a punishment from said father He is tall, dark and morally grey. He struggles with finding who his is. Half of him embraces his “dirty” clan heritage of his mother; the other half is beaten and bloodied by the influence of being raised solely by his ruthless father.
The pace is slow until about 75% into the book, focusing on character development and the day-to-day life Roma experiences. While the slower pace pulls you out of the story, the focus on her daily life gives a much deeper picture of her personal experiences. Unfortunately, the focus on social issues and trauma overshadows the plot in some places. The plot does not reveal itself fully until the second half of the book. I feel like this is definitely a set-up novel for the series. One thing that bothers me a little is that the magic-system is not clear. In fact, magic barely plays a part in this novel until the end. It’s clear the Firawn uses magic and the upper zaat’s as well, but how the magic works and who actually holds the magic is not well explained.
Overall, this is a heartbreaking story, but beautifully written and well developed. I would definitely recommend it, but only if you are aware of the triggers.
I would like to thank NetGalley and White Tigress Press for sending me a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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About Ana Lal Din
Ana Lal Din is a Danish-Pakistani author currently based in England. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book or her fingers on a keyboard, you might find her in the nearest Caffè Nero with a Caramel Latte.
The Descent of the Drowned Series
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