Title: A Swift and Savage Tide (Captain Kit Brightling #2)
Author: Chloe Neill
Publication date: November 30, 2021
One Sentence Summary: With Gerard Rousseau escaped from his island prison, Kit Brightling’s mission is to find his ship, but she ends up encountering much more than she expected.
A Swift and Savage Tide is the second in the Captain Kit Brightling series. A fantasy retelling of Napoleon’s escape from Elba, it swirls together Napoleonic era literature with some Jane Austen and regency romance, making it full of adventure with a healthy dose of romance and a dash of societal expectations. While the story is on the simple side, it’s still a fun sea adventure with plenty of action and wonderful characters as well as a dangerous and magic-filled chase across the sea. I love that it manages so easily to put my favorite characters together again without any real lengthy absences and especially that it’s, overall, quite a light and fun read.
Following the events of the first book, The Bright and Breaking Sea, with Gerard Rousseau having escaped his island prison and set on harnessing magic to try to take over the Continent again, Captain Kit Brightling’s mission is to track down his ship. Sailing along the coast of Gallia on her trusty Diana, she believes she’s found it, but, in investigating further, discovers a man the Isles had presumed dead, a man who was also a powerful ally to Gerard.
Unexpectedly, Kit is also reunited with Colonel Rian Grant, and the two are on a new mission, but Kit also knows there’s more to her Alignment with the sea and the magic might be a key to defeating Gerard.
A Swift and Savage Tide is such a fun, fluffy fantasy to me, almost like a guilty pleasure since I typically read heavier, heftier high fantasy novels, but I am adoring this series so far. While it’s starting to feel like a trilogy, I can hope for more, can’t I? This one felt like Jane Austen’s novels plus regency romance crossed a bit with RJ Barker’s Tide Child Trilogy and Napoleonic era literature. As a fantasy retelling of Napoleon’s escape from Elba, it offers a lot of high seas adventure and some quieter romantic interludes mixed with some war preparations as no one knows where Gerard is and a dangerous man on his side turns out to not be dead.
I loved almost everything about this book. It’s fast-paced and fun, offering plenty of action and just enough romance. I did think the romance moved a bit fast, but, considering how fast it moves in regency romance novels, it’s probably quite slow. But I think, for me, A Swift and Savage Tide really shone through Kit taking action. She’s not one to sit by and wait for orders, but will also do what she thinks she ought to in order to best serve her Queen. Overall, there isn’t actually much depth to this book and the point of view is limited to Kit’s, but it’s light and fluffy and quite enjoyable if you’re not looking for something dense. It has a terrific pace that just keeps moving along, making for a fast read.
Kit is a lot of fun. She’s young without being too young and spunky with plenty of guilty pleasures. In some ways, she reminds me of some of Jane Austen’s heroines and I can’t help but adore her. She now makes me wonder if this is what Lizzy Bennet would be if she’d been able to join the Queen’s service. I love that Kit both manages to be an agent of the Queen and a proper lady, balancing the two extremely well, though I think I prefer her when she’s out at sea with her crew. The one thing that bothered me a bit about her was her stubbornness about not committing to Grant. Her reasoning felt a bit weak and repetitive to me without offering much depth or true motivation behind it and some further communication could have cleared it up in mere paragraphs. But I can also appreciate that Kit is young and only has being one of the Queen’s Own to hold onto so I didn’t feel her fears were completely unfounded, just that better communication could have been useful.
Grant, for his part, was just as much fun, and so were all the other minor characters. I would have liked getting some of the story from his viewpoint, but felt I got an excellent amount through Kit’s. He felt much like a typical Englishman, but also untraditional in other ways. As a matter of fact, all of them were like that. Kit’s second in command is a former thief, but the affection between him and Kit is clear and helps drive Kit to attempt things she ordinarily wouldn’t have. Kit’s sisters, too, were quite untraditional, but still managed to operate within the confines of society’s expectations, though there was far less of them than I had wished as they were so much fun in the first book. A Swift and Savage Tide also included one of the pirate kings first introduced in the first book. It went not at all the way I expected, but was a lot of fun as the pirate and Kit negotiated and there was definitely a bit more to him than initially met the eye.
Where the characters were a lot of fun and felt complex and interesting, the story itself was more simple. It’s basically Kit hunting down a man everyone had assumed was dead, a man with powerful and dangerous magic. While I do believe it advances the overall plot, it’s really little more than a chase across the sea. Still, it’s peppered with a lot of great moments, like the romance between Kit and Grant and Kit working out more of what her Alignment makes her capable of. I really enjoyed the nuggets of information we and Kit receive about how it might work as it’s clearly little studied, but will likely play a bigger role when the Isles faces Gerard and Gallia.
A Swift and Savage Tide is a fun adventure across the sea and a bit on land. While there isn’t any real in-depth world building and just enough on how ships operate, it’s still a fun read, quick and easy. This is definitely a lighter fantasy both in terms of heft and story, but I like that it takes a familiar historical context and makes it work in a fantasy setting. Overall, this is a fun sea adventure that both manages to feel old fashioned and modern. The only thing that brought it down for me was the romance as it played on lack of communication, otherwise I thought it was just as much fun as the first book and I can’t wait for more of Kit’s story.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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