**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**
Twenty-two-year-old Estelle Bailey has had enough of busy city-life and her hot-tempered ex. She escapes to the seclusion and peace of her family’s clifftop home in Ravenscar, where the soothing solitude whispers to her soul as strongly as the sea itself does. But her newfound contentment is interrupted when a mysterious man—a Sachael, master of seduction—joins her midnight swim unexpectedly.
Estelle struggles against his charm and the overpowering attraction she feels for him. He offers her a life she never could have imagined, a life beneath the waves . . . but at what cost? Before she can decide, she’s captured, ensnared by the Sect, a secret enemy of the Sachaels, becoming a pawn in a war she knew nothing about.
Now, she’s left with a new choice—escape the clutches of the Sect and flee into the ocean, or side with her alluring, intimidating captor and destroy the Sachaels forever. Can she turn her back on the man she might love, or will the secret of her heritage change everything?
Set against a picturesque backdrop, Sachael Dreams is the first in a new series, exploring themes of romance, love, and identity, and the struggle that happens when all three collide.(source:goodreads)
Narrative-This book is told from the first-person POV of the lovely Estelle (with the exception of the prologue, which is told in the third-person POV of an unnamed woman).
Quick side note: I've read this on other reviews, too, and I agree that normally prologues aren't needed. I went into it fully expecting it to be kind of a useless one, but after reading it and reading the rest of the book, it actually kind of works? It's weird. It even gives the reader an extra bit of information that even most of the characters don't know. So I mean, I'm not a fan of the prologue, but it just kind of...works.
Back to the regular narrative: Estelle's voice is heavy on description and emotion; by that, I mean that the descriptions (my favorite part, probably) were extremely vivid, and the way in which things were described and that she worked through things in her head were thick with what she's feeling on the time, which translated really well from the page (or my Nook screen) to me (the reader). It was an easy voice to follow, which made the narrated parts flow very well (although I found some of the dialogue easy to trip over).
Plot-Estelle is a twenty-two year old young woman who's moved back to her home in Ravenscar after getting out of an abusive relationship. Her father died in the sea ten years prior, yet every month she continues doing what she calls a "ritual" in the sea: a monthly tradition she'd done with her father, which she promised him she'd continue doing even if he died.
As a reader, I knew there had to be more to that ritual than met the eye, and luckily I wasn't disappointed.
What I really liked: the hints and the mystery. Throughout the entire first half of the novel there were little weird things that cropped up that up up red flags, but you weren't sure whether you should pay attention to it or not. I'm talking a man on the train, a woman in the town that Estelle walks through, the repetition of descriptions of her father's paintings. They're all relatively small things, but they stand out in the subtlest of ways, which kept me suspicious and intrigued.
This mystery includes the fact that the prologue sets up the danger: Sachaels. Yet then you meet Azariah, who's a Sachael. Then you proceed to spend about two-thirds of the book wondering if he's really a bad guy, or if he's really as sweet and adorable as he seems. Then the sect gets involved and kidnaps Estelle, and then you need to figure out how good or bad they really are (as well as the individual characters involved). It's very frustrating, but in a good way.
The plot is also heavy on the romance (well, duh, it's "romantic fantasy" for a reason), which means that any and every scene that includes both Estelle and Azariah is going to be adorable.
What I didn't like: the pacing kept throwing me off. From the first chapter, everything happens fast: meeting Azariah, learning that Estelle's mother knows things, and the fast-growing relationship between Estelle and Azariah. It threw me off, but only because it felt like one of those openings that was going to take off at sixty and then accelerate from there; I understood and accepted it. Only, it didn't. It kind of slowed down; this was something else I was willing to accept, because once we hit about the halfway point, things sped up again when the Sect charges in.
So the next few chapters were great and suspended your anxiety in this middle ground where you're like oh, yeah, sh*t's getting real, now.
But then it slowed down again, until around the last thirty-ish pages. And then the climax was...well, anti-climactic.
A great world was set up, here, and I was and am still willing overlook a few things that I don't like on personal levels (like insta-romance; yet I'm overlooking it because it simply fits with the genre, the narrative, and the mythology involved). I loved the suspense, and I loved the hints and the fact that I was kept on the fence over, well, who's really the bad guy, here?
Yet in terms of the pacing and climax (and a few other scenes), I felt there were missed opportunities to engage in some action and to really put the reader in the scene. So I might be getting a bit generous with the stars, but only because (as I keep saying) the mystery and the world were so darn fabulous that I couldn't wait until I could pick the book up again to keep going.
Characters-The biggest statement I can make about these characters is that they're all extremely passionate, about one thing or another. Estelle holds a passion for the sea, for her family, and for Azariah. Azariah as a passion for Estelle. Orontes is passionate about revenge (and Estelle, but that's a very strange and slightly creepy story). Pactolas is passionate about killing Estelle and getting his father's respect.
I loved that the characters all had something or somebody to be fiercely emotional about, things that they were willing to shape their entire life around. That's what made me connect to each of them on even a small, base level (the want to love someone so deeply, to have a place or a person to call home, to earn the respect of somebody you respect).
And Estelle was adorable with her hot chocolate (I'm sorry, I had to say it; she drinks it all the time, and she got really excited about giving it to Azariah for the first time. it was such a small detail that made me smile every time).
What kept me from connecting with these characters on a deeper level, though, was how chaotic I felt they were. They'd say one thing, and then turn back on themselves, or else they were a bit one-sided. They're all strong (as in strong personalities), but in turn I'm not sure I got a chance to really see their weaknesses (aside from Estelle, since the novel is in her POV), which would have made them a bit more three-dimensional. There was only one side that I tended to see, and that made them fall flat in intense situations, despite how well-crafted they appeared.
Final Answer: 3.66 / 5
Meet the Author:
Growing up, Melody Winter showed a natural ability in art, a head for maths, and a tendency to write far too long English essays. Difficult to place in the world when she graduated, she pursued a career in teaching, but eventually ended up working in Finance. Melody is convinced the methodical time she spends working with numbers fuels her desire to drift into dream worlds and write about the illusory characters in her head.
Melody Winter lives in North Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or preparing for another trip to the beach. With an obsession for anything mythical, Melody revels in reading and writing about such creatures. In fact, if she wasn’t such a terrible swimmer, she’d say she was a mermaid.
Sachael Dreams is her debut novel, and the first in her New Adult Romantic Fantasy series—the ‘Mine Series’.
SACHAEL DREAMS @MelodyWinter @REUTSpub is romantic, mysterious, and suspenseful. Read the review (Click to Tweet)