(Spoilers for Daughter of the Pirate King)
I’ve waited a long time to say this:
JENNA AND I ARE BACK FOR THE SEQUEL.
We buddy-read Daughter of the Pirate King last December and I’ve been anticipating the follow-up ever since.
We meant to read this book over the course of four weeks and ended up bingeing it in two; it was that good.
I was so happy the plot focused on Alosa’s mostly-female crew this time around instead of Draxen’s generically-evil pirate bois.
Though there were too many pirates to properly keep track of, more than a few stood out, including:
- Mandsy, the asexual (!!!!!) ship’s doctor and shipper on deck
- Niridia, the no-nonsense first mate
- Wallov and his six-year-old daughter Roslyn
- Enwen, the kooky recruit from book 1 (sadly, there wasn’t very much of him in this book)
- Sorinda, the silent assassin
- Kearan, my stealth crush for this novel (there’s a really excellent scene involving Kearan and push-ups that I just loved)
Overall, I was much more engaged with this novel than its predecessor. (This tends to happen when I actually care about the characters.)
Alosa and her crew spend the bulk of the novel on the run. I was genuinely terrified for their safety and screamed quite a few times when their enemies caught up to them.
The pacing in this book was mostly good (I had a few issues that I’ll discuss later) and the action was excellent. Whereas the first book had Alosa completing a supposedly dangerous mission with no sense of stakes, this book makes the dangers clear and throws in a bunch of twists to keep the plot moving.
Levenseller fixed some of the things I took issue with in the first book: she pared down the near-constant rape threats to one or two mentions (much more effective) AND she introduced an asexual character in chapter two (WHAT!?)
I cannot emphasize enough how much I screamed about this book. This was the fun pirate adventure I’d wanted book one to be. My emotions were all over the place (in a GOOD way this time) and I enjoyed every second.
As I mentioned, though, I had a few issues:
Even though asexuality was acknowledged, Tricia Levenseller either purposefully neglected or forgot to include other queer womxn. Alosa makes a big point that her female crew won’t be affected by the sirens’ seduction magic. This was disappointing – queer women’s susceptibility to siren song would have both raised the stakes and made the world feel more grounded.
The pacing, as I alluded to, is mostly good but for a few moments toward the end.
The novel lags during the romantic scenes (more on that in a minute) and the ending feels a little rushed. After all this buildup, the final battle resolves pretty quickly.
My biggest problem was with Riden. Where the romance between him and Alosa was one of my favorite parts of the first book, it felt more distracting here. The couple’s back-and-forth dynamic was needlessly repetitive and MUCH less fun than the enemies-to-lovers dynamic from the first book.
Riden developed a superior attitude I DID NOT LIKE. I believe the intention was to have him be the one person to call Alosa on her bullshit; to me, it came off more as Riden ordering Alosa around. He took the moral high ground in several scenes and made some comments that bordered on slut shaming. I ended up disliking him a whole lot.
I really took issue with the romance when the plot ignored more pressing matters to devote chapters to the love story. Normally, I love this sort of thing. This time around, I DID NOT CARE. I was WAY more invested in an implied romance between two secondary characters and, oh right, the ACTUAL PLOT.
It didn’t help that the book forgot about Riden for chapters at a time, making his appearances feel like genuine interruptions. Forget the magical island – Riden has his shirt off.
UGH. RIDEN. WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE?
As for other characters, the two villains established in book 1 are dispatched pretty quickly here. The narrative hints at the importance of one villain only to drop-kick him out of the plot several chapters later. I was almost at the end of the book when I had to stop and go, “Wait…what happened to So-and-so?”
In this respect, I would totally read a follow-up spin-off that dealt properly with the side characters. Honestly, I’d take another sequel. I NEVER ASK FOR SEQUELS, TRICIA. LET ME HAVE THIS.
As a final complaint: there are two revelations made about the magic system that I didn’t love. They weren’t bad, per se; I was just expecting (and, honestly, would have preferred) a different explanation.
In spite of these issues, I REALLY enjoyed this book. Jenna and I kept emailing each other to confess that we’d overshot our reading goal – neither of us wanted to stop reading.
Daughter of the Siren Queen made me even more excited for Levenseller’s recently-released romance The Shadows Between Us. I’m excited to read more of her work and am crossing my fingers that she’ll improve her representation in later books.
Read this duology. I command you.
And go read Jenna’s review if you need more convincing! (Or just in general – Jenna is great.)