Book Review: Slave of the Sea by Dawn Dagger

Levanine’s life as a slave is insignificant. She has always been property; bound to her owner, content to serve quietly where no one can cause her harm. However, when her master sells her to pay a debt, her false safety is shattered, and she finds herself offered as a sex slave on the continent of Dreanis.

Fearful and hopeless, Levanine expects the worst to happen. Nothing could prepare her to be suddenly swept onto a pirate ship by an infamous captain whose interests are a mystery to her. Forced to think on her feet, the silent girl must overcome a lifetime of servitude to survive on a ship where everything is trying to destroy her.

As sea monsters, mutinies, and ghosts wreak havoc on the ship and its crew, Levanine realizes that she doesn’t have the luxury of simply surviving until they arrive at Avondella, her continent of redemption. Levanine must decide whether she will die the person she has always been, a meek nobody… or will she make a name for herself at sea? 

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To be entirely honest, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d think of this book because the subject matter is not what I usually read, but I’m familiar with the author and knew she’d handle the issue tactfully, so when she reached out to ask if I’d write a review, I said yes. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Yes, this book is uncomfortable at times. A story set in a world where sex slaves are the norm should be uncomfortable. But, as I expected going in, Dawn put forth the issues explicitly enough to have emotional impact while still handling it tactfully and never going beyond what was absolutely necessary (and not much was necessary). I also appreciated that, while there were many awful men in Kethaltar (and they were, unfortunately, the majority), there were also enough good men to feel like the balance wasn’t excessively weighted toward creeps. (At least at any one point in the book; when taken as a whole, I would maybe have liked to have seen more decent guys).

Another thing that contributed to my considering the balance to be adequate was that the world was well-constructed to support the themes Slave of the Sea explores. It felt natural for there to have been fewer good men. As unfortunate as it is to have a world where such a balance feels natural, I’ve seen books in the past where it just felt contrived to have so many abusive men and so few respectful men, but Dawn’s worldbuilding supported her plot and themes well.

The characters in this book were, as a whole, enjoyable. There were times I would have liked for their feelings to be shown more than told (or where they were both told and shown, and the telling could have simply been removed), but for the most part they felt well thought-out.

Levanine’s character growth wasn’t as smooth as might have been ideal, but her flaws, tics, and insecurities all felt natural to her character.

Captain Guy wasn’t my favorite, due to his violent tendencies and bloodlust, but he still made for a compelling POV character. His goal, his beliefs, and his overall opinion of the world were all very clear and well-written in the majority of cases.

As usual, however, the side characters were my favorite. Rafiki was tops on my list. I loved his support for Levanine, his respect, and how clearly he cares for the people and the world around him all contributed to my appreciation of his character, and I’d love to see more of him in future books in the Chronicles of Salt and Blood series.

Silva was my second favorite, and I loved his relationship with Levanine. Their relationship deepened both of their characters. Plus, kids have a tendency to be high on my list of favorite characters; something about the specific perspective they bring to the world is a huge draw for me. With Silva, it was interesting to see a mixture of child-like beliefs with a worldview shaped by a pirate-filled, harsh world.

I also enjoyed reading about Braxton and Quinn, and I appreciated the respect and discipline they both had (considering how rare those qualities were on the ship).

Admittedly, many of the less-prominent side characters never clicked in my brain–Awla, Ska (all I remember is that he has a bird), Eldred, etc.–but enough description was given for my imagination to coast by when they popped up.

Since I got an ARC, there were quite a few grammatical and spelling errors, but I trust those are remedied in the final version.

Overall, Slave of the Sea was a compelling read and I look forward to reading more in this series.

Dawn Dagger has had a passion for reading and writing ever since she could remember. When she was six she drew and wrote her very own book, and though it hardly makes sense now, she was so proud. She has written many books, short stories, and poems since then, and continues to do so. Dawn placed highly in her two middle school years of Power of the Pen and even has her short story ‘The Haunting’ published in an anthology, She admits she isn’t good at anything physical (except some ballroom dancing), or video games, but she does enjoy a nice game of Mario Kart, a trip fishing, or just a walk in the woods. She has a knack for taking pictures of whatever catches her eye; especially brightly colored flowers. Dawn is a sucker for a good fantasy book, lives off of coffee, and loves her wonderful family and friends, and her dedicated boyfriend, Nevin, who is just like a romance novel character.

Dawn has over 70 stories started (don’t believe her? Just the other night she rattled off the 37 stories she’s actually named and what they’re about to Nevin because he wanted to know) and that doesn’t include short stories or poems. She has lots of writing to do, and is excited for what’s ahead!

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  • A nautical bracelet
  • Nautical-themed wooden signs
  • Message in a bottle
  • ‘Slave of the Sea’ keychains
  • A ‘Slave of the Sea’ poster
  • and a signed copy of ‘Slave of the Sea’!

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Slave of the Sea by Dawn Dagger

  1. I love how honest of a review this is, and how you covered all the bases. These types of reviews are all too rare :)

    Slave of the Sea sounds like a fascinating story, and Dawn Dagger sounds like a interesting person as well as writer.

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