Reminisce to a time where women are strangled into corsets, weighed down by bustles, and forced to be accompanied by a chaperone to protect the honor of their virtue. Every movement is pristine, and judged, and if it’s not perfect, you worry about receiving a marriage offer from a lesser man. Expectations are high, and the stress could make anyone go beyond their breaking point.
“Beyond the Shallows” is a short- coming in at exactly four chapters. We’re reading about a very concentrated group of characters, which is perfect because for a four chapter short, readers do not want to be inundated with name after name after name. It takes a lot of talent to build an emotional connection to an emaciated cast.
Aunt Betty: Aunt Betty is that awesome Aunt that everyone needs and deserves. The Aunt that allows you over for sleepovers, and take the time to get to know each of her nieces (or nephews) individually and spoil them to their own unique needs. Where her house feels just as homey as your own. I would love to have an Aunt Betty. In the future, I would love to BECOME an Aunt Betty.
Temperance & Ettolie: The younger sisters. These young ladies fit the mold for living in 1891; prim and proper in the streets, young and naive and sisters sharing secrets at home. They are corseted and bustled to the hilt trying to attract the right man to marry so they can do their wifely duties and pop out several children. Because of their focus on society’s standards, it makes them not understand their very unusual sister Ophelia.
Ophelia: Our main character. A girl after my own heart. A woman that was born to stick out and be absolutely fabulous in the face of ridicule. We are looking at a thick skinned woman. Here we are in 1891, a woman’s family’s primary goal is to marry daughters off. So here we have our glorious outcast, Ophelia that could care less for the attention of men. She would rather have knowledge, and conversation, and read. Dealing with her hobbies in the face of her two men obsessed sisters, and pressures from her mother.
Dagon: Dagon’s story goes back a bit farther- but it’s absolutely beautiful. If readers have read the Tidal Kiss trilogy, one can be fairly familiar with the story. Dagon was the man who captured Atargatis in her mermaid form. He did not release her because he was absolutely entranced with her beauty- which we mer fans all know that if a mer is left in the sun they don’t live to swim another day. With Atargatis captured in Dagon’s net it actually freed her soul to return to her lover, Poseidon. Although the two are fiercely in love, Poseidon set a curse on Dagon. Atargatis being the empathetic goddess, decides to give him a bit of a break and create a soul mate for him.
Just in the description of the characters should summarize the story pretty well. We have three sisters that are on holiday at their aunts. Two of the sisters, Temperance and Ettoile, blend into society perfectly, yet are befuddled at their sister Ophelia’s strange (to them) behavior for her lack of care for men or marriage and her love of books.
Ophelia feels free at her Aunt’s house, away from her mother’s ridicule at being the oldest with no prospect of a husband. Although not much is mentioned about Ophelia’s house, it seems as though her Aunt Betty’s house is well suited for her. For example. Everyone knows the quirks of their own house. It is mentioned or five times about the 3rd step that is squeaks. This leads me to believe that Ophelia has visited Aunt Betty’s house many, many times. And lets face it, with the library she’s surrounded by, what book reader wouldn’t feel at home.
I feel it also is important to point out that Ophelia’s mother does not quite understand her daughter. The whole purpose of sending her to Black Tower is in hopes of acquiring a man’s favor. It has the opposite effect for Ophelia driving her into the arms of her beloved Aunt who understands her quite well, leaving books of poetry right on Ophelia’s bed.
Without giving the entire delicious plot away, it is Ophelia’s love for reading that have led her to meet Dagon, a man, yet not a man, and yet the only man Ophelia has rendered a deep connection with. Taking a chance on the only deep connection she has ever felt, Ophelia sacrifices herself for a man she just met- but what are the consequences?
Readers who have not had enough of The Tidal Kiss series will be absolutely enthralled to go back to a side story. “Beyond the Shallows” is that perfect little EXTRA to quench our curiosity on a side story that some readers may graze over.
Kristy Nicolle yet again changes her writing style, deeming her a modern day romantic, and having her short dripping with poetic justice. To be a writing chameleon is challenging. I applaud her for moving around and trying things differently; usually it’s a 50/50 toss up if that works for an author. In this case it did. It makes readers look beyond societal expectations, and look “Beyond the Shallows” of a person and deep into their soul to find something absolutely unexpected, and beautiful.
I usually Instagram book quotes from the current book I’m reading, and match it with a glorious picture. For me, “Beyond the Shallows” spoke volumes to me, not chapters. Enough so to garner almost 3 weeks worth of book quote pictures.
Coming from an “in order” point of view, it really can be read however the reader wishes. I read the entire Tidal Kiss trilogy before this was released and it made no difference. However, readers are able to start with this little gem, and then segue into the trilogy- completely up to you.
All in all, definitely a 5 star review- which is absolutely well deserved for the thought process, plot, and execution of the entire thing.