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She is bound to serve. He is meant to kill. Survival is their prison. Choice is their weapon. As the sacred slave of a goddess, Roma is of a lower caste that serves patrons to sustain the balance between gods and men. What she wants is her freedom, but deserters are hunted and hanged, and Roma only knows how to survive in her village where women are vessels without a voice. She is bound to serve. He is meant to kill. Survival is their prison. Choice is their weapon. As the sacred slave of a goddess, Roma is of a lower caste that serves patrons to sustain the balance between gods and men. What she wants is her freedom, but deserters are hunted and hanged, and Roma only knows how to survive in her village where women are vessels without a voice. When her younger brother is condemned to the same wretched fate as hers, Roma must choose between silence and rebellion. Leviathan is the bastard son of an immortal tyrant. Raised in a military city where everyone knows of his blood relation to the persecuted clans, Leviathan is considered casteless. Lowest of the low. Graduating as one of the deadliest soldiers, he executes in his father's name, displaying his worth. When he faces judgement from his mother's people—the clans—Leviathan must confront his demons and forge his own path, if he ever hopes to reclaim his soul. But in the struggle to protect the people they love and rebuild their identities, Roma's and Leviathan's destinies interlock as the tyrant hunts an ancient treasure that will doom humankind should it come into his possession—a living treasure to which Roma and Leviathan are the ultimate key. Set in a colonised Indo-Persian world and inspired by pre-Islamic Arabian mythology, The Descent of the Drowned is a tale about power, identity, and redemption, and what it takes to hold on to one's humanity in the face of devastation.


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She is bound to serve. He is meant to kill. Survival is their prison. Choice is their weapon. As the sacred slave of a goddess, Roma is of a lower caste that serves patrons to sustain the balance between gods and men. What she wants is her freedom, but deserters are hunted and hanged, and Roma only knows how to survive in her village where women are vessels without a voice. She is bound to serve. He is meant to kill. Survival is their prison. Choice is their weapon. As the sacred slave of a goddess, Roma is of a lower caste that serves patrons to sustain the balance between gods and men. What she wants is her freedom, but deserters are hunted and hanged, and Roma only knows how to survive in her village where women are vessels without a voice. When her younger brother is condemned to the same wretched fate as hers, Roma must choose between silence and rebellion. Leviathan is the bastard son of an immortal tyrant. Raised in a military city where everyone knows of his blood relation to the persecuted clans, Leviathan is considered casteless. Lowest of the low. Graduating as one of the deadliest soldiers, he executes in his father's name, displaying his worth. When he faces judgement from his mother's people—the clans—Leviathan must confront his demons and forge his own path, if he ever hopes to reclaim his soul. But in the struggle to protect the people they love and rebuild their identities, Roma's and Leviathan's destinies interlock as the tyrant hunts an ancient treasure that will doom humankind should it come into his possession—a living treasure to which Roma and Leviathan are the ultimate key. Set in a colonised Indo-Persian world and inspired by pre-Islamic Arabian mythology, The Descent of the Drowned is a tale about power, identity, and redemption, and what it takes to hold on to one's humanity in the face of devastation.

30 review for The Descent of the Drowned

  1. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    there are some books where, no matter how much you want to love it, you just cant click with a story. such is the case with this one. and i think it stems from the fact that this story very much feels like a debut novel, with so much room for growth and development. the inspiration of arabian mythology is something i find fascinating, but the world-building in this is soooo confusing and assumes the reader is already familiar with indo-persian culture and folklore (which i am not). it got to the there are some books where, no matter how much you want to love it, you just cant click with a story. such is the case with this one. and i think it stems from the fact that this story very much feels like a debut novel, with so much room for growth and development. the inspiration of arabian mythology is something i find fascinating, but the world-building in this is soooo confusing and assumes the reader is already familiar with indo-persian culture and folklore (which i am not). it got to the point where i completely gave up on trying to understand the world-building and just focused on the plot. there is also so much potential for the characters and many opportunities for their development, but they all fell flat for me. like, i could tell they have depth to them, but there is too much focus on their trauma itself, rather than how the traumas affect them. and the stagnated writing style takes some getting used it, too. so while there is so much great representation and inherent positives about this story, im not quite sure it plays to all its strengths. although i probably wont be picking up the next book in the series, i hope ALD develops her style a little more with progression of the story. thanks to white tigress press for the ARC! ↠ 2.5 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    When I first read the premise of The Descent of the Drowned, I was immediately intrigued. A book set in a colonized Indo-Persian world and inspired by pre-Islamic Arabian mythology? Please give it to me now. It is not every day that I come across a book inspired by a mix of different Asian cultures. Before I start my review, I want to mention that this book contains many events that might upset certain readers. TW/CW (including but not limited to): rape (not explicit), self-harm (in the past), s When I first read the premise of The Descent of the Drowned, I was immediately intrigued. A book set in a colonized Indo-Persian world and inspired by pre-Islamic Arabian mythology? Please give it to me now. It is not every day that I come across a book inspired by a mix of different Asian cultures. Before I start my review, I want to mention that this book contains many events that might upset certain readers. TW/CW (including but not limited to): rape (not explicit), self-harm (in the past), suicide, death of a parent, explicit violence, gore, drugs addiction (forced in a way), (child) sex and human trafficking, transphobia, and prostitution is one of the main plotlines. The Descent of the Drowned tells the story of Roma who was dedicated to goddess Lamia since childhood and raised in the temple. In a world divided to zaat or castes, when the time comes, she’ll be auctioned to a patron – of the high zaat- to service him. But Roma always has hated how women had no voice, especially the sacred slaves of the goddess. Deserters are hunt down and killed. But she isn’t so ready to accept this fate. On the other hand, we have Leviathan, the bastard son of the Firawn. Trained since childhood, he becomes one of the deadliest soldiers under the Firawn’s command -who by the way, is obsessed with harvesting magic. Roma and Levi’s fate will interwind and shatter everything they know and change they know about themselves and their world. I also want to express my love for Ana Lal Din’s intentions behind this book “What I wanted was to spread awareness about the sacred prostitution, caste system, and half-creature perception and abuse of transgenders in South Asia; the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya People; the exploitation of once-resourceful places like the Middle East and Afghanistan; the occupation of and war crimes against Palestine; and the human trafficking of adults and children across the globe.” These are all important problems that I believe authors should use to raise awareness of them in their novels. I wish to see more books based on these issues because they deserve more attention. And honestly, it’s what I loved the most about this book. And the fact it’s written by a Muslim woman who wears hijab. The plot: I usually discuss the characters before moving to the plot but I believe this is important to put first. I honestly struggled with the first half. A lot. There was lots of unnecessary information and in my opinion, info dump, and the author was basically setting up the world to get the story moving at a later point. My other critic is that the blurb mentions an event that won’t happen until around 65% of the book. I kept waiting “okay now it’ll happen, maybe now, okay… Uhm how did someone include an event that won’t happen until much later?!”. And the thing is, this event set things into motion and the story improves considerably after it. I didn’t know how to describe the plot without mentioning any spoilers because anything that happened after the 10/20% mark is a spoiler and here nothing worthy happens in these pages… just a description of the world, culture, and clothes. But worry not. The wait was worth it. Because when the pace picked up, it didn’t stop and I couldn’t put my kindle down. The revelations and plot twists were interesting and unexpected. The ending was great! Not exactly a cliffhanger but enough to leave you wanting more. When I was reading this arc, I skimmed over the history because I was getting tired of the pace, so a piece of advice, pay attention to it. I still understood what happened later but I’m also familiar with the history it’s inspired from. The characters: The characters were interesting to read about. Roma was strong-willed and rebellious. Always looking for a different life but they always use their beloved ones to punish any slave who misbehaves. And she won't let anything happen to her brother. But as Roma uncovers more about her reality, she fought back. As for Levi, he was always struggling to be who his mother’s clan remember and not the cold-blooded killer his father wanted him to be. But after the massacres he committed, is it possible? Both of our main characters suffer from trauma but I felt there was too much focus on it at times instead of trying to develop the story. I just didn’t feel it. The secondary characters were many and I had a difficult time keeping up with them, even though I am familiar with several names. I had to visit earlier chapters because once I completely confused two characters (thinking they are the same person) because they have the same title (which I assumed was their name). It is worth mentioning that this book is romance free, which I didn’t mind personally. There’s no romance between the main characters, only sparking chemistry, so I believe there will be in the future. I honestly don’t mind at all the slow burn. The writing: The Descent of the Drowned is not a light book. Don’t expect a fluffy read but a novel that deals with human cruelty, trafficking, and other heavy topics. Lal Din is without a talented writer. She did a good job reflecting human nature. How it's difficult to change what we believe in only because it's safer. But the writing honestly sometimes got too descriptive especially when it came to clothing items. And she used lots of foreign names (you can find most of their translation at the end of the book) and while it’s nice in theory, in reality, it bored me. A lot. I’m not particularly interested in this and the descriptions of other things were too detailed too sometimes that I kept losing interest and took more time to finish this book. Since the book is told from double perspectives and third person, it served into making this book more “serious”. Also, I liked understanding words that were like “names” but actually meant something. For example, Al-Mawt assassins means assassins of death, “Iblis” means satan, Nar is Fire which is like fires of hell (but not hell exactly here), and Al-Ghayb “the Unseen” which made sense. The author didn’t mess up the usage of the Arabic language. Thankfully. But I have one tiny thing to mention.. so we have “Wallahi” used which is I swear to God like the translation points but it is God with capital G and not any “god” so I’m not sure how correct its usage here… there was one god for the clans but God is not in fantasy so… The world-building: The world was rich with culture and history. Lal Din painted a world where women were treated like second-class citizens, which is the reality in most societies today. But they are also fierce and hardened because of what they went through. The clans are not exactly part of the kingdom but they barely get by. Their children are dying from starvation and they do not have medicine and not even clean water to drink. And where do they live? In tents. As someone who has worked with refugees, it is all too obvious to me how their living circumstances would’ve been if NGOs and the governments didn’t provide any help (and even now they barely get by). Very similar to the clans you might say, especially if they didn’t have any human rights. Another way Lal Din reflects reality is when the plot moves to the orphans disappearing from the streets. She made it one of the centers of her story. Children kidnapped and then brought and sold for their organs and for sex. Levi’s mom was from the clans and hence he’s hated by the higher castes from being born from of “them” and many of his mother’s clans don’t consider him one of them because he is the blade of the Ferawn. It honestly took me a longer time than usual to wrap my mind around all the gods, zaats, cultures, and religions. I think that’s because I was more like forcing myself to read in the first half where all these things were explained rather than eager to learn all about the world. Sidenote: I also discovered something pretty called the Banyan tree. I’m no plants expert so I don’t know much, to begin with. One can even accommodate about 1000 people in its shade. Wow. The magic system was vague and not very clear. I hope we'll get more explanation in the next book. In sum, this was a heavy YA. This is not a fast read. I admire Ana Lal Din's goal to raise awareness on the issues mentioned above. Her writing skills are solid but I struggled with the pacing. The characters were interesting and flawed. The plot got considerably more interesting in part two. I’m looking forward to seeing what people think once this book comes out. I’ll also most likely read the sequel since this book felt more like a set up for the real deal. Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    krista ☽✧

    My original revieuw was all of the sudden gone and deleted from this earth , fun so here is the revieuw reposted. i hate glitchreads.com , plz sue this site. Anyway HAPPY RELEASE DAY. ''But everything doesn’t have to be a reminder of what you’ve lost. Some things can be a powerful symbol of what you survived..' ''we are what they make us untilll we break them and make ourselves. '' I received a arc copy of this book from net Galley. Thank you NetGalley, (thank you White Tigress Press). All th My original revieuw was all of the sudden gone and deleted from this earth , fun so here is the revieuw reposted. i hate glitchreads.com , plz sue this site. Anyway HAPPY RELEASE DAY. ''But everything doesn’t have to be a reminder of what you’ve lost. Some things can be a powerful symbol of what you survived..' ''we are what they make us untilll we break them and make ourselves. '' I received a arc copy of this book from net Galley. Thank you NetGalley, (thank you White Tigress Press). All thoughts and opinions are my own after finishing this book. The descend of the drowned is the young adult high fantasy debut novel from author Ana Lal Din. First I want too mention the trigger warnings in this book. This book is really heavy and the world this book plays in is a high fantasy world inspired by South Asia and not the pretty side of south Asia. It deals with slavery , prostitution of woman , children and transgender people , abuse and more horrifying things. It has scenes of rape , physical and mental abuse , self harm and more. If you don’t like a book with heavy detailed scenes about these topics I don’t recommend this book as it has that. I myself do like too read these kinda books because they spread awareness and feel real + I always find the delving into the cruel ness of humanity interesting. The author also mentions in het acknowledgements that she wanted too spread awareness with this setting and explore the theme of power in human kind and what people do for power. The story really deals with morality of human kind. It really deals with how an illusion can be saver then the truth. It shows that people sometimes choose too close their eyes for the things that are happening because the illusion is easier too live trough then the reality. In this book it shows that with basically prostitutes that are said too be serving the gods with what they do and that it is good. I really apricate this whole aspect of the book as a main theme. The author made this very real and it really hit me and made me think. Definitely a big + for me in this book as its just a really important theme but you do have too be in the mood for it as this is not a light read at all. Where is the story about – The story follows two character who both have their own POV. It follows Roma. Roma is basically a slave and a prostitute in serve of the so called gods in this world the story takes place in. She deals with horrible traumas of what happened too her in the past and during this story she really struggels with the way she lives and the wanting of freedom. We also follow Leviathan the son of the big ruler in this world who is very cruel and rules with fear , slavery , murder and the illusion or isn’t it an illusion of the gods. Throughout the story Levi struggels with his identity and which morals too follow , he struggels a lot with himself and the things he has done in the past. The story is pretty much character focused and shows both of their stories too escape the life they are in and look for their true selfs and deal with the cruel ness of the world but later on we also have a plot that deals with magic and rebellion and the charracters journeys connect together. It has some fantasy and magic but not a lot. My guess is that there will be more in the next book. Pros and cons Pros - Spreads awareness and deals with heavy themes in a good way - Morally grey multiple pov charracters that both deal with trauma and mental and physical abuse and struggels which makes them really real. Roma is a really brave complex character and as the story progressed I started too admire her somuch and my heart cried for her. I also love Levi and his poor morally grey storyline. I like how he struggels and questions who he wants too be and what he wants too do. - The two main charracters have a lot of chemistry. Note – there isn’t romance in this book but there is a chemistry between these two and I feel like in the next book this will be such a good slow burn romance. - The ending , I was actually shooked and I neeed the next book now but I have too wait so long * sobbing * the only curse of having an arc. The last chapters where really good and action pa cons - the plot - i did struggle with the plot ,the plot in most of the book is really slow and i felt like in the first 50 % there was no plot just horrible scenes happening too the charracter but not really a clue where the actual plot went. When i found a plot at 50 % i was like WOW shooook this does have an actual plot. the awareness and charracters where good but i didnt found myself being bored and felt like it dragged and was still in the introduction chapter even tho we where already 50 % in the book so yeah. - the magic system - the magic system in this book is hella confusing. My peanut brain could not handle it. I still dont really get it. Its just weird and doesnt make sense and i just dont get it. I saw some other people mentioning the same about it. I just feel like is has not been made clear which made it confusing too follow and my brains where like making over hours trying too figure this shit out. - no real romance - i am a huge romance person so i was a little bit dissapointed there isnt romance but i did see the chemistry for the hopefully upcoming romance soo that was good. Overall this book is something that you have too be in the mood for as it is really heavy but it is done in a really good way. The first half is a bit a struggle sometimes because of the plot that has hidden itself somewhere but i did enjoy the charracters in the first halve and the second halve of the book i really enjoyed myself as the plot came out of its hiding spot. I ended up really apriciating this book and the story the author created and i am super excited for the next one !! especially the awarness is done very well !!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    HOLY SHIT! LOOK AT THAT COVER! 😳

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lucie V.

    I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you White Tigress Press). All thoughts and opinions are my own. ✅ Dark atmosphere ✅ Writting ✅ Characters 🆗 Magic system 🆗 Pace 🆗 Beginning is a little confusing (lot of infos) ❗️❗️ Mentions of (but not in too explicit scenes) rape (involving young kids and teens), self-harm, torture, murder, and physical abuse. 3.5 stars. The Descent of the Drowned is a dark and enthralling story. This book deals with a lot of topics. Some are darker and heavier than I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you White Tigress Press). All thoughts and opinions are my own. ✅ Dark atmosphere ✅ Writting ✅ Characters 🆗 Magic system 🆗 Pace 🆗 Beginning is a little confusing (lot of infos) ❗️❗️ Mentions of (but not in too explicit scenes) rape (involving young kids and teens), self-harm, torture, murder, and physical abuse. 3.5 stars. The Descent of the Drowned is a dark and enthralling story. This book deals with a lot of topics. Some are darker and heavier than others, but everything is well developed, and it is consistent with the storyline and the world in which the two main characters live. The traumatic events are not there only to elicit the reader’s compassion, they help us understand the past and complexity of the characters as we realize how these awful events are part of their everyday life. For the lower casts of the society, and the outcast clans, the days are filled with fear and poverty, people hardly know who to trust and they can only rely on their family and friends since the authorities in place do nothing to help them. "It was easier to rule a people once you put the fear of gods in them, once you convinced them poverty was a divine punishment, not the consequence of men's greed." There is a lot of information in the first chapters, and it was a little confusing at first, but it is nothing major, and it did not prevent me from understanding the story. Everything eventually makes sense as I continued reading, I got used to the titles and the different deities. The glossary at the end does help a lot to understand the titles and thus the relationships between the different characters. I admit that some parts were harder to read because they involved young kids, but these moments are part of what makes this story so poignant. It shows us a world where greed and fear rule over compassion and love, and where the ugliest parts of human nature are shown. The words stuck within Roma’s head. What was choice and what was fate? She realized she didn’t know. The pace is a little slow for the first half of the book or so, but the description of Roma’s life is interesting, so I did not mind reading about her at all. We get to know her and Leviathan better, see their thoughts, their fears, and their flaws. Roma’s chapters are full of hardships and trauma, but it is not the only thing that defines her, she is very cynical, strong-willed, and resilient. She hopes for a future where she would be free of slavery, she is a great character and she really grew on me. Even though Roma and Leviathan are two very different persons, their stories are both about fragile hope, a quest for freedom, self-discovery, guilt, and empowerment. The author has a way to get us invested in the characters' stories from the very beginning. Amma said Roma chose to see the abjection of human nature. That she always searched for a lie to bare, an illusion to shatter, and she would never find happiness because lies and illusions were how humans survived. “Safety is an illusion,” Roma interrupted. Meriel and Goldie turned their heads toward her. “And the nature of an illusion is to deceive.” One thing that bothers me a little is that the magic-system is not clear. It took quite a while before it was explained, and even now I am not exactly sure how it works. I hope we will have more details in the next book (hopefully there will be a second book?), I would also like to have more backstory about the secondary characters. The ending was unexpected, but not exactly a cliff-hanger. Overall, this is a heartbreaking story, but beautifully written and well developed. I would definitely recommend it but be aware of the trigger warnings at the beginning of the book. “The worst kind of monsters, Saheb –“ Roma said through gritted teeth, “- are those who pretend they’re human.”

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mash

    *.·:·.☽✧ Will get back To ✧☾.·:·.* Okay, so I tried reading this but I've been in a reading slump for the past three days so I really don't think I'll get anywhere with this. However, I'm still interested in reading it in the near future so I'll mark it as "will get back to" and hopefully I'll find a day to read it, when I'm not in a slump. --------------------------------- I am soo excited for this!! I've heard lots of mixed thoughts but that synopsis sounds like something I would love so I have *.·:·.☽✧ Will get back To ✧☾.·:·.* Okay, so I tried reading this but I've been in a reading slump for the past three days so I really don't think I'll get anywhere with this. However, I'm still interested in reading it in the near future so I'll mark it as "will get back to" and hopefully I'll find a day to read it, when I'm not in a slump. --------------------------------- I am soo excited for this!! I've heard lots of mixed thoughts but that synopsis sounds like something I would love so I have pretty high expectations.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    THIS SOUNDS AMAZING OH MY GOD there is literally nothing about this i do not love

  8. 4 out of 5

    fanna

    ↣ an early digital copy received via netgalley ↢ September 09, 2020: We have a Danish-Pakistani author writing a fantasy? OF COURSE WE SUPPORT

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shivvani Rao

    1.5 stars. I was very excited that this book had Indo-Persian culture and Pre-Islamic Arabian mythology which I never read about (and so was very looking forward to). Being an Indian, some insight into the Indo-Persian culture referenced throughout the book (like lehengas and cholis- I own these and I wear them!) etc., from my side: I always knew that these were introduced by Mughal conquests like Delhi sultanate, Nizams etc., I guess they were mixed into India after Mughal empire got them from t 1.5 stars. I was very excited that this book had Indo-Persian culture and Pre-Islamic Arabian mythology which I never read about (and so was very looking forward to). Being an Indian, some insight into the Indo-Persian culture referenced throughout the book (like lehengas and cholis- I own these and I wear them!) etc., from my side: I always knew that these were introduced by Mughal conquests like Delhi sultanate, Nizams etc., I guess they were mixed into India after Mughal empire got them from their being largely Persian culture (though Turkish in origin), and then when they invaded India. That’s actually so cool how the culture carried over. Purely Indian things like dhotis, maangtikkas etc are also mentioned. But that mythology part was misleading. On some digging around the web (mostly Wikipedia and YouTube), I found out that Pre-Islamic Arabian religions were indigenous Arabian polytheism, ancient Semitic religions, Christianity, Judaism and Iranian religions. In this case, I think the mythology was supposed to refer to the indigenous Arabian polytheism which is entirely different with none of the same gods and customs mentioned in the book. It’s all just a fantasy mythology with no connection whatsoever to the indigenous Arabian mythology. I felt betrayed. Writing: The writing felt so stilted and didn’t rope me in from the beginning. It always made me break my focus on the story. Reading felt like a chore as there was no clear development of plot in sight. The focus on trauma was too much imo. A quote from the book- Kinfolk related by their internal and external scars, as if they could look at each other and read every personal tale from how deep a cut went, or how hollow someone’s eyes were. It seemed to be their identity now, an identity whose weight they had paid in blood, or with their very souls. The writing was somewhat weird at times. Like- “When Amma unsealed the door..”, really? Unsealed? I did find some unintentional pov shifts during narration. Glossary: The glossary is lacking many non-English words like shirina (there was no meaning anywhere in the book for this). Some were explained in the text but were not mentioned in the glossary. I think they should’ve been in the glossary too, as I forgot the meanings of the words soon after reading them (there was quite a heavy info dump which had me referring the glossary many times tbh). Some words like Ghameq and Ghaib were not even precisely explained (they’re not human and made of energy but they’re also a tribe?) World building: The world in the book was so confusing. I honestly didn’t get where all the places were and after a point I gave up imagining them and focused on the story. A map would’ve been great. Also, the descriptions of the cities(?) were just an info dump with not much importance to the plot. You could just remove them from the book with little to no damage to the non-existent plot. Plot: As I mentioned, there’s not much plot tbh. And too many loose ends. All the events were scattered and don’t always contribute to a solid plot line. This made continuing the book very difficult considering the stilted style of writing and a very slow pace. Too many tragedies give us a perspective on the society (though much less would’ve been sufficient) but it would’ve better to do this along with a plot that leads us on. All the terrible tragedies, one after the other kinda desensitised me. The Chirag’s tragedy was too far man. We get the first of the only two interactions with the main antagonist, the Firawn at about 50%. Until then, I was making sense of the world, googling shit and trying to feel bad for the protagonists but couldn’t. The magic system was not explained at all. Like magic is a liquid? Or the vibrant nature like forest etc.,? At the end, we don’t even get a good idea on the ‘ancient treasure’, the Firawn’s hunting (and don’t forget the child trafficking thing as everyone in the book seems to have left it alone for now). Characters: The side character dump was too much and had me checking all the relations between the lamiadasis many times later in the book. I absolutely hated the dynamic between Levi and Junho. Junho just shouts at everyone and Levi just inclines his head or glances at him or slices his eyes at him and Junho just shuts up. smh. I loved the name Leviathan for a character. But the character didn’t live up to it’s name. Levi was so annoying. I know what his dad did to him was sad but I hated him when he made the decisions for Roma by himself. The lack of communication between Levi and Roma annoyed me (leading to all the unnecessary drama). I found this so funny- Levi’s pov and thoughts while seeing Roma for the third time- at about 19% (Until now- no talking, no interaction, just a glance for a couple of times.)- His gaze skimmed down to her squared shoulders, the straight spine. He recognised unbreakable strength when he saw it. That brazen stare of hers never wavered. She watched the world with cynicism. There was heat in her. There was power. He doubted she had any clue about it, or she wouldn’t have settled for the herd. She’d have led armies and burned down cities. If he wanted to test his theory for a second, it was because seeing such potential pulled at him like a battlefield before the bloody call of war, the empty stretch that’d soon sing with the sound of steel against steel. Okay, I didn’t get what potential he meant by the second paragraph but I just can’t with the first one. Did I miss something between them or what? Pfft- On exactly what basis did he assume all that? Squared shoulders and straight spine? Lmao. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a strong female lead more than anything but this description, in this point of the book, with no interaction, was just ridiculous. Ending: A broad enough cliffhanger with many loose ends for thorough pick up in the sequel. Summary: A very slow paced book, too dark for YA genre, with confusing world building and under developed plot with too many tragedies. Thoughts: I liked the representation of sacred prostitution, caste system and Hijras. It’s not a society I would ever wanna live in. Trigger warnings: Violence, panic attacks, murder, slavery, kidnapping, sexual abuse, drug abuse, domestic abuse, rape, suicide, mutilation, genital mutilation, femicides, torture, transphobia, abortion, self-harm, prostitution, trafficking. Total time spent: 11h 50min. Oof. This took forever to finish. ~ ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Renaissance Kate

    Blog | Twitter An emotional and dark book with amazing characters – I’m already looking forward to book #2! First, however, the synopsis of this book… in my opinion, it doesn’t quite do the story justice. Yes it touches on some of the major themes, but to say the plot revolved around Roma rescuing her “brother” would not be 100% accurate. I would say the overall story is more about Roma learning to break free while overcoming her past trauma, and the subplot involving her brother is important to t Blog | Twitter An emotional and dark book with amazing characters – I’m already looking forward to book #2! First, however, the synopsis of this book… in my opinion, it doesn’t quite do the story justice. Yes it touches on some of the major themes, but to say the plot revolved around Roma rescuing her “brother” would not be 100% accurate. I would say the overall story is more about Roma learning to break free while overcoming her past trauma, and the subplot involving her brother is important to that journey but not the only one she must deal with. The first third or so of this book was so saturated with information— character intros and backstories, descriptions of food and clothes and customs and settings, info on the magic system, multiple subplots, and more —that it left my head spinning. However, I ultimately appreciated all of this information because it helped paint a clear picture of the story moving forward as it’s all woven together. By the end, I felt truly immersed in Roma and Levi’s worlds. In addition, I would highly recommend reading the trigger warnings for this book and evaluating the state of your mental health before diving in. Because Ana Lal Din’s intent was to “explore a formalised system of inequality", heavy themes relevant to the overall plot are introduced early on in quick succession. This made for an emotional and impactful story that ripped my heart out and made me want to see the characters succeed even more. That being said, I did have to alternate this book with a romance novel because it was so heavy at times. I cannot speak to the #ownvoices rep in this book, but Ana Lal Din’s heartbreaking and poignant exploration of injustice in a colonised Indo-Persian world was clearly well researched and executed in a deliberate way I wish was more prevalent in YA. I absolutely loved Roma and Levi and wished I could give them each a big hug. They were such well developed, nuanced characters whose decisions I could understand even when they were questionable. There is no romance in this book, but I loved seeing Roma and Levi’s paths cross and their relationship grow. Of course, my romance-loving heart is hopeful this will change in the future books, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see… and that ending! So unexpected and such a cliffhanger. This book is definitely a standout in the world of YA. Overall, I learned about and reflected on so many important topic, and I know this story and its characters will stay with me well into the future. Thank you to White Tigress Press via Netgalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    halla

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Free eARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Trigger + content warnings: self harm (mentioned), death, parent death, sickness (mentioned), violence, guns, sexual assault, sodomization, grief, addiction, drug abuse, suicide (mentioned), castration (mentioned), transphobia, bigotry, human trafficking. The Descent of the Drowned is set in a colonised Indo-Persian world and inspired by Pre-Islamic Arabian mythology. Ana Lal Din has such a way of writing that you literally do not Free eARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Trigger + content warnings: self harm (mentioned), death, parent death, sickness (mentioned), violence, guns, sexual assault, sodomization, grief, addiction, drug abuse, suicide (mentioned), castration (mentioned), transphobia, bigotry, human trafficking. The Descent of the Drowned is set in a colonised Indo-Persian world and inspired by Pre-Islamic Arabian mythology. Ana Lal Din has such a way of writing that you literally do not want to put down. Once I started, I just want to keep reading and fully submerge myself into the story and characters that she’s created. Her characters are real and even though both her main characters are from completely different backgrounds, they are both very similar. The first thing that I want to note are the trigger warnings at the start of the book! While not every trigger warning was included, most were listed and to be honest, listing some trigger warnings is better than none. I really loved is the way the book deals with a lot of different topics like assault, shame, human trafficking, transphobia and guilt. They were discussed in a good way, even if most were only mentioned and that is something I am very grateful for. The book was a bit slowpaced but not in a bad way! Usually, this really makes me want to drop a book, but in this case it made me want to read even more. This gave me a chance to meet the characters and really get to know them with all their thoughts and flaws and doubts, which makes them even more real. I loved all the characters (both main and side) so so much! I'm going to be honest, Roma's chapters were hard to read. Not because I found no interest in them (quite the opposite actually), but because of the way I related to her story. Her hardships were ones that hit deeper than I wanted them to. It was heartbreaking to read about her suffering but more importantly, I was so grateful that her trauma and abuse was not the only thing that made her character. In books, usually when characters have experienced sexual abuse, that is pretty much their entire story, but Roma's story was about freedom and power and most importantly, self discovery. Then there's Leviathan. Through the book, two of the things that Levi struggled with was his grief because of the loss of his mother and his self discovery, just like Roma, but this time it was to step away from his title as the Blade. His grief was something that I also related to, especially since his mother died because of sickness and how he wasn't there for her at that time. Levi is the type of character that seems bad but is actually good. He has a lot he has to work through, especially if he wants to get rid of the mental cage his father put him in, but he is such an interesting character. And the side characters! I loved Chirag, Junho, Kanoni, Malev, the White Wolves and so many others. I think despite them only being side characters, you really felt those characters while reading. They weren't just side characters, but they were just as important as Roma and Levi. The ending literally left me in shock. It was one you could not see happening until you reach the very last chapters. Also, the way while reading I saw some of the tales I used to be told about as a child was also very heartwarming. For example, there was the tale of Habil and Qabil. It did bring a very nice memory back. In conclusion, The Descent of the Drowned was one of my most anticipated reads for 2021 and this book made me very emotional. I can’t wait for the official release so I can recommend it to literally everyone.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance

    4.5 stars This novel is an Indo-Persian #ownvoices novel inspired by Pre-Islamic Arabian mythology and it is as ravishing as it is terrifyingly thrilling. With poignant prose, The Descent of The Drowned reads strikingly evocative of identity redemption and lends to an intensely vivid plot for the senses. Fans of dark embellished word choices, multicultural elements, and mythology, will enjoy this amazing debut novel by Ana Lal Din. Roma, one of the main characters in this novel is a devadasi slav 4.5 stars This novel is an Indo-Persian #ownvoices novel inspired by Pre-Islamic Arabian mythology and it is as ravishing as it is terrifyingly thrilling. With poignant prose, The Descent of The Drowned reads strikingly evocative of identity redemption and lends to an intensely vivid plot for the senses. Fans of dark embellished word choices, multicultural elements, and mythology, will enjoy this amazing debut novel by Ana Lal Din. Roma, one of the main characters in this novel is a devadasi slave to a God. As an abandoned babe, she was dropped off on the temple steps of Lamiapur like an orphan after she was born under the full moon. At age 4, she was dedicated to Mother Lamia, with many other girls and she must live as a chosen one. Considered vessels to the gods, refusal to abandon her patrons is the worst crime she could commit. Yet, she is tormented in her devotions to the divine, the belief system she was brought up with and the many wounds inflicted on her physically and mentally. “Patrons are vessels of Lord Biran just like we’re vessels of Mother Lamia. And we should be grateful for our sacred zaat because we’re safe. If we didn’t worship-“ “Safety is an illusion,” Roma interrupted. Meriel and Goldie turned their heads toward her. “And the nature of an illusion is to deceive.” Leviathan is a soldier of the highest brutality. Son of an immortal tyrant and a mother of the clans, he is torn between two worlds. He wants to be free of what the controlling Firawn made him, but when his mother died, his identity burned with her. There are tensions in the land between the higher and lower zaats and the two main protagonists find themselves torn in opposing directions of their upbringing. When they meet, it is not at first a serious matter, when Roma’s brother disappears for one of the highest crimes, Leviathan’s mission is to uncover a children’s and organ smuggle trading ring, their paths take dramatic turns. Roma will have to fight for her life, while Leviathan uses her to aid in his cause. As Roma becomes a fierce fighter filled with hatred and redemption, it is Leviathan who must see past his Firawn control to do the one and humane thing there is to do. At that point, it could be too late and a full-on war between the zaats at hand. Will Roma and Levi be able to unite in the same cause? A story that tethers at the brink of darkness becomes the question of good and evil only our main protagonists can stir. Their personal struggles and fates will collide in immeasurable consequences so devastating, it commences in the most thrilling and darkest of ways as the plot nears the end. *** I had the pleasure of reading an excerpt of this novel when the publisher approached me about a review. I was immediately riveted by the striking writing and exotic foreign setting to me. An Indo-Persian novel is such an excellent example of what is missing in most big publishing. I know it is gaining some momentum through diversity awareness etc, so I think it is the perfect time for this book to hit the shelves in March. I absolutely loved this book. I was trying not to give away too much in my review, yet the story is so rich and textured, filled with a mother tongue that’s new to me and a flair I can only imagine that brought me to the streets and Persian markets. Roma is such an amazing and enduring character. All her energy is both pain and love wrapped into a bundle of mind, feist and beauty. I so admired her strength and vulnerabilities simultaneously and I think the author did an amazing job creating her. Leviathan is equally amazing and his struggle goes deep. He is this absolute power-house with a façade unbreakable but he fights those demons inside on a daily basis. While he is in need of finding peace to his inner conflicts, Roma is trying to break the chains that bind her physically. The writing of this debut is strikingly stark and beautiful. Completely on par with my taste. I’m happy to say my hunch on the excerpt did fully hold up. What an amazing book. If there is one little part that I wished for, it would have been that the solution at the end should have been more clear vs. left to interpretation, though I know many readers enjoy it just like that. Do not miss this debut novel. I have a feeling we will be reading much more from this author in the near future. And what is there not to love about the cover art? It is amazing. Put this on your tbr. I highly recommend it if you are a fan of strong female protagonists. Roma will not disappoint! I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you! More of my reviews here: Through Novel Time & Distance

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kendra Cusworth

    5 stars This book blew me away. Everyone add this to their tbr’s right now! I want to first start out by saying that this book deals with extremely heavy topics. The author includes trigger warnings at the beginning. Please do your research and please read with caution. The Descent of the Drowned takes place in a very corrupt world. As children, Roma and Leviathan were both thrown into jobs that they wanted no part in. Because of what he did in his past, Leviathan is known as the Blade. Because of 5 stars This book blew me away. Everyone add this to their tbr’s right now! I want to first start out by saying that this book deals with extremely heavy topics. The author includes trigger warnings at the beginning. Please do your research and please read with caution. The Descent of the Drowned takes place in a very corrupt world. As children, Roma and Leviathan were both thrown into jobs that they wanted no part in. Because of what he did in his past, Leviathan is known as the Blade. Because of their past traumas, Roma and Levi spend everyday trying to escape their pasts. The culture and world described in this is absolutely captivating. The author is so descriptive with the world’s traditions and clothing and even languages. There is a focus on world building and character development in this book, but I think that focus was intended. There is a good plot, but I do think the most important part is the character development for Roma and Levi. The beginning of this book is rather confusing, mainly because of all the new names and words thrown around. The author includes a wonderful glossary in the back of the book but it’s hard to flip back and forth to it in the ePub arc version, which is one of the many reasons i wish I had a physical copy while reading. I found myself relating a lot to both our main characters. There’s an encompassing darkness within both Roma and Levi. The world has been horrible to both of them, and their own personal demons are always lurking in the shadows. Watching them cope and learn to move forward no matter how hard it might’ve been was one of my favourite aspects of this novel. I hope that in the second installment of this series, Roma and Leviathan can grow together and learn to trust each other. I can already tell that this is going to be an incredible slow burn romance and has potential to be on of my favourite romances ever. Roma and Leviathan are two incredible people. I didn’t want this book to end. As I turned the last page, all I wanted was more story, more info on our protagonists, more anything from this world. And don’t even get my started on the cliffhanger ending... I think that is the true test if I loved a book or not. Although I don’t think this book was perfect, I was more than fully invested in our protagonists. It was heart wrenching and beautiful and enthralling. This book tapped at the darkest parts of me, it reached its fist out and grabbed my heart wholly. Just as a reminder, this book deals with extremely heavy topics. It is not for the lighthearted however it is an incredible story and deserves to be read by anyone and everyone who don’t mind reading about such dark topics. *thank you so much to NetGalley and the Books Forward and the Ana Lal Din for the advanced readers copy!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Booktastically Amazing

    [Don't mind me finally having the book and not reading it for fear of hating it.] IT IS OUT PEOPLEEEEEE THIS BOOK IS OUUTTTTTTT Don't mind me yeeting myself in search for a copy. [Don't mind me finally having the book and not reading it for fear of hating it.] IT IS OUT PEOPLEEEEEE THIS BOOK IS OUUTTTTTTT Don't mind me yeeting myself in search for a copy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nihal

    GOT AN ARC!!!! It's available on netgalley! PRE-REVIEW— the author is pakistani. instant addition to my tbr. the premise sounds so good too. right up my alley. GOT AN ARC!!!! It's available on netgalley! PRE-REVIEW— the author is pakistani. instant addition to my tbr. the premise sounds so good too. right up my alley.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chloë

    The Descent of the Drowned paints a cruel yet alluring picture of two people trying to survive in this colonised indo-Persian world. Where Roma is a sacred slave meant to serve patrons as a religious act, Leviathan is a bastard son of the Firawn who has earned his reputation as a ruthless killer. They live in this religious society made up of castes named zaat. The story unfolds rather slowly in the beginning due to the well-researched and rich worldbuilding but surely picks up later on. The writ The Descent of the Drowned paints a cruel yet alluring picture of two people trying to survive in this colonised indo-Persian world. Where Roma is a sacred slave meant to serve patrons as a religious act, Leviathan is a bastard son of the Firawn who has earned his reputation as a ruthless killer. They live in this religious society made up of castes named zaat. The story unfolds rather slowly in the beginning due to the well-researched and rich worldbuilding but surely picks up later on. The writing was enthralling. It's filled with beautiful phrases that confront you with harsh truths. The use of foreign words also made the book feel unique. If you sometimes have a hard time remembering those, do not worry: there is a list with translations included at the ending. Something I highly appreciated about this book was the moral ambiguity of the characters. Because it doesn't shy away from darker subjects, we explore these characters and their inner demons pretty thoroughly. Roma is an incredibly interesting character who has harmed herself before to delay her inevitable fate as Lamiadasi. Her longing for freedom in this corrupted world and her willingness to protect her sisters both shape her as a person. Her actions towards the ending show she is not one to be messed with and I'm incredibly curious what the author has in store for her. Leviathan was another fascinating character. He isn't just the son of the tyrant that controls this world, he is also the son of a mother from the persecuted clans. In the military academy, he earned his name as the Blade, yet he isn't unmoved by all the horrors around him. In this tale of self-discovery, Levi tries to make a change. The Firawn is another complex character. Ana Lal Din mentioned she based him on a psychological model known as the Dark Triad which contains Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. These traits make him an evil yet captivating villain. The other side characters were also well fleshed-out. In her debut novel, Ana Lal Din doesn't shy away from the darkest parts of humanity. Themes of human trafficking, transphobia and colonialism are interwoven with the story, yet none of it is done for shock value. The author mentions she wants to shine a light on how these ongoing problems, happening especially in the Middle East and South Asia. I'd like to thank White Tigress Press for providing this copy via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Check the trigger warnings and more here.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nite0wl29

    I’ve had my eye on this book for months, ever since I found the author’s character art on Instagram. I KNEW I needed to read it when it was available. So I want to thank NetGalley and the author for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. WOW! This book completely and utterly blew my mind. I fell in love with Roma and Levi right off the bat. Without a doubt, they will be the slow burn of the century and I’m totally 100% here for the angst and (hopefully) healing that’s to come in fu I’ve had my eye on this book for months, ever since I found the author’s character art on Instagram. I KNEW I needed to read it when it was available. So I want to thank NetGalley and the author for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. WOW! This book completely and utterly blew my mind. I fell in love with Roma and Levi right off the bat. Without a doubt, they will be the slow burn of the century and I’m totally 100% here for the angst and (hopefully) healing that’s to come in future books in this series. Now for the story. The first several chapters were a struggle for me as I had a hard time keeping character names and nicknames straight. But that grew easier along the way as I got a better understanding of the characters and the world that the author has weaved for us here. There are some very heavy topics covered in this book: rape being the one worth mentioning in case anyone is triggered by it. It is also worth noting depictions of human trafficking, prostitution, drug use, and graphic depictions of violence. This book took me by surprise in every way. There are revelations that’ll blow your mind and an ending that’ll leave you crawling and begging for more. I absolutely loved this story and I can’t wait for book 2!

  18. 5 out of 5

    anna

    I have never really written reviews before and this was written at 4-5am, and I'm still going through it after that ending, so if this sucks, I'm sorry. The Descent of the Drowned is one of my most anticipated books of 2021. I was lucky enough to get an ARC from NetGalley, and this book did not disappoint! I absolutely loved it. First of all, this book deals with a lot of heavy topics, and there is a trigger warning at the beginning of the book. (a thing every book should have) The trigger warning I have never really written reviews before and this was written at 4-5am, and I'm still going through it after that ending, so if this sucks, I'm sorry. The Descent of the Drowned is one of my most anticipated books of 2021. I was lucky enough to get an ARC from NetGalley, and this book did not disappoint! I absolutely loved it. First of all, this book deals with a lot of heavy topics, and there is a trigger warning at the beginning of the book. (a thing every book should have) The trigger warning is for physical and emotional abuse, mention of rape and sodomization, sexual assault, suicide, bigotry, drug abuse, and human trafficking. None of it is really graphic, and, in my opinion, these topics are dealt with very well, but it can still be triggering and hard to read. The Descent of the Drowned is set in a colonized Indo-Persian world, and it is inspired by Pre-Islamic Arabian mythology. It follows the two main characters, Roma and Leviathan. Roma and Leviathan are very different people, but both of their stories are about power, self-discovery, freedom, and redemption. They were both survivors. They never quit. No matter how badly they were beaten, or how much they bled. Roma – Roma… Roma is everything to me. She is so strong, and she has been through so much throughout her whole life. Her relationship with Chirag is probably my favorite relationship in this book. He is Roma’s brother, but she raised him as her own son, and their relationship is such a big part of her character. She has been taught to be silent and to serve men, and I just loved seeing her find her voice. Roma also broke me. Like, she absolutely broke me. Her story is so heart wrenching and she made me cry multiple times. She just has my heart, and she’s definitely one of my new favorite characters of all time. She wouldn’t sob. She wouldn’t shatter. Never again. Leviathan – Normally when I read about anti-heroes it’s a good person with a bad side, but Leviathan is kind of the opposite. I don't know if I would really call him a bad person, but right now, there definitely seems to be more bad than good, and that's something he's really struggling with. He has done a lot of bad things, and his morals are pretty messed up after all of the things he has been through and all of the things people have made him do. He still does a lot of terrible things, but I love him. He’s so well written, and his story breaks my heart. In this book, he struggles a lot with redemption because he doesn’t understand how he could deserve redemption after everything he has done. He felt it now. The self-disgust. Things were easier for him when he didn’t have to control his demons, so he let them run savage, and as a consequence people around him got hurt. Also – the side characters. The side characters are amazing. I loved so many of them. I love Chirag, Junho, Kanoni, Malev… There were so many good characters. The story is kind of slow-paced, which I’m usually not the biggest fan of in fantasy books, but I really loved it in this book. In my opinion, the slow pacing makes this book better. It really gives you time to get to know the characters. For me, it was a page-turner from the beginning, but it wasn’t because a lot was happening with the plot, it was just because I was so invested in the characters already that I needed to know what was going to happen to them. The second half of the book really picked up on the plot, though, but I can't really say anything without spoiling. My favorite part about the book is the way it deals with a lot of different topics like assault, shame, doubt, and guilt. Seeing Roma and Leviathan dealing with the things they have done and the things that has happened to them is painful, but it's something that makes them seem real, and that's something Ana Lal Din has done so well in this book – making the characters seem real. Both the main characters and the side characters. I feel like it took a little too long for the magic system to really be explained and explored, and I’m still not sure if I actually understand it, but it’s definitely interesting and really intriguing. I would also have loved to see a bit more backstory from side characters like Yoshi and Malev. There were hints to their stories, but I would love to see more of them. This book really put me through it. I got so invested in the characters so fast, and the more I learned about them, the more I loved them. They also made me cry. Multiple times. And the ending?? The ending!! It destroyed me. I need more. In conclusion, this book is both heartbreaking and beautiful, and I am in love with it. If it sounds interesting to you, I will definitely recommend it, but remember to check the trigger warnings first! There are a lot, and even though it’s not graphic or in deep detail, it’s still present throughout most of the book because some of the topics are a big part of the main characters’ stories.

  19. 5 out of 5

    luisa❣️

    4.5 "Men. [...] They'll tell a woman she's less, so they can believe they're more." This book hurt in the best way possible and I cannot wait for a sequel! I need to know more! Okay but let me explain: this book deals with a lot of heavy topics so please look up trigger warnings before reading it. Some themes of the novel are prostitution, the caste system and human trafficking of adults and children, which made it hard to read at times. There were certain scenes where I had to put the book down be 4.5 "Men. [...] They'll tell a woman she's less, so they can believe they're more." This book hurt in the best way possible and I cannot wait for a sequel! I need to know more! Okay but let me explain: this book deals with a lot of heavy topics so please look up trigger warnings before reading it. Some themes of the novel are prostitution, the caste system and human trafficking of adults and children, which made it hard to read at times. There were certain scenes where I had to put the book down because I physically couldn't look at the page anymore. But what this really means to me is that Ana Lal Din is an exceptionally powerful writer for making a reader feel so hard and deep for a fictional character in a (mostly) fictional world. It felt horrible and disturbing and terrifying but most importantly of all, it felt real. The world building was tricky for me to get into but as soon as you understand the basics of it, it becomes fascinating. I especially loved the magical element of the story that was introduced later on. I also had difficulties understanding all the foreign terms sometimes but that didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story at all, and also, there is a glossary explaining all the words at the end of the book, which is super practical! Now, let me talk about my favorite part of this novel: the characters! Roma is one of many badass heroines in YA fantasy books, but the way that she differs from them is that she is not supposed to be fearless or invincible. It's quite the opposite, actually. She is a young and sometimes naive girl that has faced way too many hardships in life and still remains strong. That doesn't mean she's not scared. One thing I especially appreciated about her character is her anger. Roma had every right to be angry at the world, at the gods, at men, and she never hid that anger. She was mad. And I love that. Our other main character, Levi, on the other hand, was fearless but not heartless. He was tough on the outside, a warrior and killer, but soft on the inside. He cared about other people and even though he'd never admit it to himself, he's entirely selfless. One more thing I enjoyed about the two characters was that they were never made out to be 'perfect heroes'. They were messy and flawed and acted recklessly at times, which made the story way more captivating. Now, Ana Lal Din is a fabulous storyteller, I think I already mentioned that. But damn, this woman can write like nobody's business! The amount of quotes and passages I have highlighted in this book is a lot. The writing was so sophisticated and artistic, I would never have believed her to be a debut author. Okay, I think this is all I have to say, except for: READ THIS BOOK! PREORDER THIS BOOK! PLEASE! (Also, thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this masterpiece).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Paulina

    *Thank you to Ana Lal Din, NetGalley, and White Tigress Press for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.* Trigger and content warnings: mentions of rape, suicide, addiction, human trafficking, emotional and physical abuse. "The gods were always angry. That was why people lived in constant fear of them. It was as if one couldn't worship them out of love or want. Anger, punishment, and revenge were the traits by which they were defined." I got to start by saying how much I loved this book! Fro *Thank you to Ana Lal Din, NetGalley, and White Tigress Press for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.* Trigger and content warnings: mentions of rape, suicide, addiction, human trafficking, emotional and physical abuse. "The gods were always angry. That was why people lived in constant fear of them. It was as if one couldn't worship them out of love or want. Anger, punishment, and revenge were the traits by which they were defined." I got to start by saying how much I loved this book! From the first few pages, I was completely hooked; the story, the setting, the culture, and the entire world-building drew me in and I couldn't put down the book. The story follows 2 main protagonists–Roma and Leviathan. They come from very different backgrounds yet are similar in many ways. Both struggle to forget the demons from their past and deal with the ones that are plaguing them at present. Few chapters in I was fully invested in both of their storylines and the way it all came together, in the end, blew me away! Seriously, the twists and turns were so well thought out and satisfying *cough* Roma's last chapter *cough* IT JUST GAVE ME CHILLS 🐍🐍🐍 I cannot wait to see what's next for both of these characters–together and separately. I hope the next book will be a bit gentler for both of them and they can heal and develop some kind of friendship and later on maybe even something more. I feel like this couple has the potential to be epic just from the few interactions they had in this book. They will be the slowest slow burn and I am here for it! In conclusion, I'm absolutely OBSESSED with The Descent of the Drowned. It has intrigue, ancient magic, budding romance, COBRAS, secret plots, amazing fighting sequences, and cool supporting characters. I'd recommend this book for fans of Hafsah Faizal's We Hunt the Flame series.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Wildenstein

    “𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲’𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐚 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐡𝐞’𝐬 𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬, 𝐬𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲’𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞.” Ana Lal Din's 𝑇𝐻𝐸 𝐷𝐸𝑆𝐶𝐸𝑁𝑇 𝑂𝐹 𝑇𝐻𝐸 𝐷𝑅𝑂𝑊𝑁𝐸𝐷 was an outstanding latticework of Arabian myth and magic. I loved every carefully crafted word and character. The story is dark--very dark--and brutal, but in my opinion, this sets it apart from so many other works of upper YA fantasy. I'd have loved a little romance, but the seeds are there, sowed into the overarching storyline that's told from dual POVs: Leviathan's and Roma's. Anyway, i “𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲’𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐚 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐡𝐞’𝐬 𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬, 𝐬𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲’𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞.” Ana Lal Din's 𝑇𝐻𝐸 𝐷𝐸𝑆𝐶𝐸𝑁𝑇 𝑂𝐹 𝑇𝐻𝐸 𝐷𝑅𝑂𝑊𝑁𝐸𝐷 was an outstanding latticework of Arabian myth and magic. I loved every carefully crafted word and character. The story is dark--very dark--and brutal, but in my opinion, this sets it apart from so many other works of upper YA fantasy. I'd have loved a little romance, but the seeds are there, sowed into the overarching storyline that's told from dual POVs: Leviathan's and Roma's. Anyway, if you loved the political intrigue of Jensen's Tʜᴇ Bʀɪᴅɢᴇ Kɪɴɢᴅᴏᴍ, the adventure in Natalie Mae's Tʜᴇ Kɪɴᴅᴇʀ Pᴏɪsᴏɴ, and the fantastical universe of Adhieh’s Tʜᴇ Wʀᴀᴛʜ ᴀɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇ Dᴀᴡɴ, you'll fall hard for this book. Thank you to @Netgalley for this find.

  22. 4 out of 5

    m.

    arc provided by netgalley for an honest review first thing i want to mention is that i know that this book is categorised as ya but i would categorise it as high fantasy. there are a lot of dark topics mentioned and explored and a good chunk of the ya audience is children and this is not something i would recommend to them. this is a beautifully written book and i cannot wait for more people to read it but this is not something i would recommend without informing them about these topics because arc provided by netgalley for an honest review first thing i want to mention is that i know that this book is categorised as ya but i would categorise it as high fantasy. there are a lot of dark topics mentioned and explored and a good chunk of the ya audience is children and this is not something i would recommend to them. this is a beautifully written book and i cannot wait for more people to read it but this is not something i would recommend without informing them about these topics because they can be very triggering. the descent of the drowned is set in a colonised indo-persian world and inspired by pre islamic arabian mythology. we have two main characters in this book: — leviathan: bastard son of the immortal tyrant but also son to a mother from one of the persecuted clans. he is considered casteless but is a brutally built weapon who executes in his father’s name. he believes that his soul is a lost cause but as we read more we learn that maybe there is a way for him to get out of his father’s clutches. — roma: a sacred slave of a goddess who wants nothing more than her freedom and safety for her brother. but as others start to learn, she draws people towards her and is slowly intertwined with levi’s storyline ana lal din’s writing is absolutely marvellous and i kept wanting to keep on reading. the world building, the setting, and the characters all sucked me in. i normally do not like slow paced books especially if it’s a fantasy book but i loved the way this book was written. this is not a book you want to read quickly, there are a lot of characters and revelations and i would recommend going back sometimes so you can refresh your memory on who the characters are. i loved both main characters as well as several of the side characters (chirag, junho, malev, ashar). they’re all vastly different characters and their loyalties lie in different directions and all very important. a big part of this book is mystery and learning more about all of the characters after each revelation has been a wonderful experience. i cannot wait to see them all interact with one another. several of them share scenes but i’m intrigued to see them as a group share some scenes. while this book has dark topics, i found myself laughing several times because these characters really are hilarious. i love the bond between chirag and roma, levi and junho and malev as well as that of the white wolves. they’re all very devoted to one another and would die for each other. one thing i particularly loved is that levi knows he is not a good guy and unlike most morally grey male characters, he doesn’t try and victimise himself because of that. he has a fucked up childhood and is constantly struggling with his inner demons and the damage that his father inflicted on him. roma to a degree does understand what it is like to live with a terrible past but they are both very different characters and have very different views and ways of thinking. levi has a very strategic mind and it every intriguing to read about but he does what he does for his end goal and unfortunately most of the time there is collateral damage, collateral damage he knows will happen but he is looking at the end goal. meanwhile roma very much thinks about the collateral damage and in her case, her brother. she’s seen countless family members brutally suffer when a relative does something and would never wish that on her brother. i absolutely loved this book and i cannot wait to read the next one. trigger warnings: physical and emotional abuse, mention of rape and sodomisation, sexual assault, suicide, bigotry, drug abuse, and human trafficking. (provided by the author)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Descent of the Drowned was one of those books that I really wanted once I saw the cover. It was just beautiful and intrigued me so freaking much. Then I read the synopsis and I was basically sold. So when I got the beautiful eARC to read it, well - I freaked the freak out! So, yeah, long story short - I was really excited to dive into it. Once I did though, meh, it was an okay book. I wouldn't necessarily say the entire I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Descent of the Drowned was one of those books that I really wanted once I saw the cover. It was just beautiful and intrigued me so freaking much. Then I read the synopsis and I was basically sold. So when I got the beautiful eARC to read it, well - I freaked the freak out! So, yeah, long story short - I was really excited to dive into it. Once I did though, meh, it was an okay book. I wouldn't necessarily say the entire book blew me away because it felt like for most of this book - nothing happened. Zero. Zilch. Yeah, we see Roma's eyes finally opening up to how horrible her life is and that she lives near or with a bunch of assholes. In other words, she gets in trouble a lot. It just sucks that she does because she makes some really good points and everyone's like - stop spreading lies and start spreading your legs. Yeah, no thanks. Back to Roma, now she was an interesting character that we didn't know much about. There was something dark about her and I just wanted to know more about that. Eventually we did get to see it and that's when the action really picked up. I mean, the entire book was just better in the last 25% of it. Plus I kind of like her and Levi together as work partners. Not sure if there's going to be a romance between them or not but after that ending - I really want the next book. I need revenge and fire so freaking badly. Bring it on.

  24. 4 out of 5

    satya

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Arc provided by Netgalley for an honest review. I would like to start out and say this is book is quite dark and tackles a variety of horrible issues and can be quite triggering. The author has provided the trigger warnings in the beginning of the book and they are physical and emotional abuse, mention of rape and sodomisation, sexual assault, suicide, bigotry, drug abuse, and human trafficking. This book is set in a colonised Indo-Persian world and is inspired by pre-Islamic Arabian mythology. Now Arc provided by Netgalley for an honest review. I would like to start out and say this is book is quite dark and tackles a variety of horrible issues and can be quite triggering. The author has provided the trigger warnings in the beginning of the book and they are physical and emotional abuse, mention of rape and sodomisation, sexual assault, suicide, bigotry, drug abuse, and human trafficking. This book is set in a colonised Indo-Persian world and is inspired by pre-Islamic Arabian mythology. Now, I am from India myself and I believe though it was painful to read, the author accurately captured the horrors of sacred prostitution. It was in my opinion, well done. Dēvadasis in India still exist and is still practiced to this day. It really hit home for me, all of their struggles and pain knowing it is still prevalent here. The story revolves around the two main characters Roma and Leviathan. Roma: She was such a good main character, I could feel her pain and struggles through the book deeply and wanted so badly for her to escape what she had been forced into. She is a strong willed and determined character, very protective of her brother Chirag and we can see that in the way she is ready to sacrifice herself for him. Although she is degraded, hurt, and abused, she never backs down and always fights and tries to persevere. Her story was so well written and I loved reading her arc throughout the book. She always questioned the system she was manipulated into and never believed the reasoning for her pain, she reasoned that her worth and self was much more than she was taught and she evidently was proved right of course. I loved seeing her take power for herself at the end, through all the hardship she’s been through. I CANNOT wait for what that will lead to in the next installement. Leviathan: He is an intriguing character, a true morally grey one. At the moment he is more bad than good, with how he was brought up and raised and is trying his best to unlearn that and be better. One thing about him is he never makes excuses for himself and realises that his actions are wrong but does them any way, which is the exact problem. I can't say I love him but I did thoroughly enjoy reading about him and watching him discover and try to learn what’s right and wrong and to try and use his opportunities to help the people around him instead of being the weapon he was raised as. I adored the side characters as well, (Ashar, Junho, Chirag and Malev etc.) they were well fleshed out and added depth and humor to the story many times. I loved the writing and the world it was set in although, the world was a little hard to follow with. Lots of names and tales with not a lot background were dropped and it was a little confusing although this may have just been with me. It was quite a slow paced story and I feel like not much happened so much as creating a serious groundwork for the story to really pickup and start in the next book which was the only reason I lowered the rating a little bit. This was still fine as it really allowed the characters to shine through and for them to be really fleshed out, developed and understood. This is easily a 4.5 stars read and that ending absolutely shook me and I’m eagerly anticipating the next book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    h ♡

    a great debut, imo; i read it in one sitting. although occasionally unpolished, the writing is well-crafted and heady with emotion, which i think can sometimes be hard to pull off in third-person. the setting, politics, culture, and people of the descent of the drowned are vibrant; the world-building i think is this novel's greatest strength. this is a difficult, heartbreaking book; structurally it echoes a young adult fantasy novel, but—and this may just be me—the content is graphic and reads li a great debut, imo; i read it in one sitting. although occasionally unpolished, the writing is well-crafted and heady with emotion, which i think can sometimes be hard to pull off in third-person. the setting, politics, culture, and people of the descent of the drowned are vibrant; the world-building i think is this novel's greatest strength. this is a difficult, heartbreaking book; structurally it echoes a young adult fantasy novel, but—and this may just be me—the content is graphic and reads like it should be for an older audience. it is also incredibly slow; its complexity, and the various strands of its plot (which are all a bit miserable) make it a little overwhelming. i'm not sure if that would change if i were in a different headspace while reading. as it is, however, i began to struggle midway through, faced with absolutely no reprieve from the myriad traumas every character experienced, over and over and over. it's not gratuitous by any means, but i found it tense in a way that i didn't love. i also felt either completely neutral, or outright unsympathetic, towards all of them save the protagonists, junho, malev, and—obviously—the children. this is pretty much what knocked my rating down: i think the author is heavy-handed, trying too hard here to do too much, and the execution may have been slightly more enjoyable if the plot had been narrower in scope. that said, however, the author depicts trauma and grief so expertly—it is both realistic and sensitive, and i appreciated that. roma is easily the best character, but i was most intrigued by leviathan's (whose surname (?) i dislike immensely—it feels out of place lmao) more cerebral chapters and his encounter with the white wolves. i will say the description definitely led me to believe their paths would actually cross more than they actually did, but i thought the cliffhanger ending was great. i'll probably pick up the next one! 3.75 stars rounded up. *arc received from netgalley & publisher in exchange for an honest review!

  26. 5 out of 5

    bookittothelibrary

    * I received this ARC from NetGalley* I want to start with that this book does cover some heavy topics, not out right in deep detail its mostly just mentioned but just a slight warning for anyone who would love to read this book, that being said the book itself is completely amazing and the way it handles such topics is just heart wrenchingly beautiful. The world Ana Lal Din has created is beautiful as it is devastating, the characters really try to overcome the circumstances they are given, its * I received this ARC from NetGalley* I want to start with that this book does cover some heavy topics, not out right in deep detail its mostly just mentioned but just a slight warning for anyone who would love to read this book, that being said the book itself is completely amazing and the way it handles such topics is just heart wrenchingly beautiful. The world Ana Lal Din has created is beautiful as it is devastating, the characters really try to overcome the circumstances they are given, its all just so beautifully written. The reveals in this book were amazing, I am completely obsessed with it and cannot wait to see where the story takes me next. Roma is such a strong MC despite everything she has been through and is put through, she somehow manages to get above it. My heart breaks for her, she is brought up into this world of lives and even when she pushes for rightness and answers people still turn their back on her but she doesnt let that stop her. She is such a well written character and i love her to pieces, i cant wait to see where her character goes from here. and that reveal at the end?!?!?! OMG my girl is gonna push and survive I know it. Levi (Leviathon) he is just so amazing, his story is well established and very driven. His story starts with him losing his mother and just wanting answers just wanting to protect and have justice for his people, he really doesnt take anything from nobody and his character is one of my favorites i have come across in a long while. The way he can tell Roma has been through everything and just respects her space and really just wants to earn her trust and hopefully and HEA is in their future because boy do they deserve it. in conclusion, I absolutely am amazed by this book and once I saw it I knew I wanted to read and I'm so lucky I received this ARC because I am completely in love with it and cant wait to see where they go from where they are. the ending really left me hanging and i need answers , I just need more. This book was written so beautifully and magically. This author deserves all the hype in the world.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marianne Moresco

    5 full, brilliant stars Thank you Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book. Actually, this is not just a book, this is a masterpiece. It's a heartbreakingly raw story and I can't even find words to express how much I loved it. It's tragic, dark and crude, violent and vengeful both in the actions and in the emotions shown so vividly on the page, and Levi and Roma.. I just love them very much. I can only bow to the author: Ana Lal Din is a masterful storyteller who owns the words she w 5 full, brilliant stars Thank you Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book. Actually, this is not just a book, this is a masterpiece. It's a heartbreakingly raw story and I can't even find words to express how much I loved it. It's tragic, dark and crude, violent and vengeful both in the actions and in the emotions shown so vividly on the page, and Levi and Roma.. I just love them very much. I can only bow to the author: Ana Lal Din is a masterful storyteller who owns the words she writes and the world she has crafted, a world that doesn't forgive nor forget. Keep in mind this: it's not a story for everyone. Be mindful of TWs such as drug use and abuse, sex/human/child trafficking, sexual assault, suicide and attempted suicide, ethnic cleansing, PTSD, self-hatred. If you think you can handle all of this, please give this story a chance. "The Descent of the Drowned" is the best book of 2021. * sorry but HOW IS THIS BOOK NOT UNDER YOUR RADAR ALREADY?? Get your shit together y'all and put it on your freaking to-be-read list I just read quotes from this book on the author's IG account and OMG it sounds like EVERYTHING. AND THE COVER??? I-

  28. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This is definitely one I will be looking out for when it is released! I see reviews mentioning beautiful writing and a slow burn and I am here for it all.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sara Oliveira

    3.5 ⭐️ Disclaimer: I received an early copy of this book from NetGalley, thank you to Ana Lal Din and White Tigress Press, all thoughts and opinions here are my own. Author does include triggers at the beginning of the book which is always important but especially in regards to the heavy realities addressed in this book and story, please be aware of them before choosing to read it. TW/CW: rape, self-harm, death, violence, suicide, murder, castration, drug addiction, human trafficking, transphobia 3.5 ⭐️ Disclaimer: I received an early copy of this book from NetGalley, thank you to Ana Lal Din and White Tigress Press, all thoughts and opinions here are my own. Author does include triggers at the beginning of the book which is always important but especially in regards to the heavy realities addressed in this book and story, please be aware of them before choosing to read it. TW/CW: rape, self-harm, death, violence, suicide, murder, castration, drug addiction, human trafficking, transphobia, guns, sexual assault, prostitution, physical and emotional abuse This is author Ana Lal Din's debut novel and what a way to kick off a series. This is not an easy book to read, it deals with all the content mentioned above and brings awareness to several issues, if you read the acknowledgments you'll understand this is not just a fantasy story, these are the very real issues that people deal with in regards to prostitution and the caste system, the ethnic cleansing and war crimes as well as the human trafficking in South Asia and the Middle East. Please be aware of that when reviewing the book. The author says this book is "far from perfect", and while I will say it definitely felt like a debut novel, I think a lot of it was really well done and I am curious to what book 2 will bring us. The author even includes a glossary so that readers can learn and better understand the words and expressions used throughout the book, which I found extremely helpful especially in regards to linguistic expressions. Now onto the actual review of the story itself. The first 75% of this story was great, yes we are introduced to a lot of characters, and names and places but it's actually not that hard to keep track of and you quickly get the hang of it after the first couple of chapters. You follow both Roma and Levi in their journey to survival, to grasping at staying human, feeling anything but pain and overwhelmed. This story is full of raw human emotions and I saved several quotes from the book that I felt had amazing impact, I'll leave them at the end. The dual POV and two story lines that keep coming together and back apart again and again made this story that much more interesting. The parts of the story involving younger children were hard to get past but unfortunately sometimes we have to face the harsh realities of this world because: "Maybe being human makes us all responsible," I didn't mind the slower pace of the first half of the book because we get to know Roma and Levi in depth, truly understand how deep their fears go, and what they are capable of in order to survive. But that's where the last 25% of this story comes into play - the magic system is something that I felt like was never truly explained and therefore left me wanting, and didn't really impact the story at all for me, even now I only truly recall the snakes, nothing besides that stands out. And I felt like this last part of the book was slightly rushed and ended abruptly with the Epilogue. It did leave me wanting book 2 though because I feel like we spend the whole book wanting Roma to just explode instead of implode that when we finally get some anger out of her it just ends and leaves us hanging. But because I think the potential is there and that book two might turn out even better I definitely rounded up the rating because I think it's worth the read! Now some quotes to pull you into trying out the book: The privileged slept like kings and queens on the ashes of the slaves. "You're eyes could ruin a man" has to be the most swoonworthy quote in the whole book (I want more of them interacting badly in book two....) There was no peace in understanding certain incidents in her life hadn't been within her power to change, but within the power of others, because she was still the one to bear the consequences.

  30. 5 out of 5

    lei (pearl)

    4.5 stars; thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. Wow. All I can really say is that The Descent of the Drowned is one of the best debut novels I've ever read, and I don't think any words of mine will be able to do it justice. It occasionally lacks a bit in pacing (perhaps its singular and very minor fault), but it makes up for it with vivid characters, gorgeous worldbuilding, and a brilliant and brutal storyline that hooks you 4.5 stars; thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. Wow. All I can really say is that The Descent of the Drowned is one of the best debut novels I've ever read, and I don't think any words of mine will be able to do it justice. It occasionally lacks a bit in pacing (perhaps its singular and very minor fault), but it makes up for it with vivid characters, gorgeous worldbuilding, and a brilliant and brutal storyline that hooks you in and refuses to let go. I enjoyed the mythological and cultural aspects of DotD so much, especially the history and stories behind it all, and even though I had to read slowly to truly understand and enjoy all of it (though maybe that's just me being a slow reader in general), I could not put it down once I found time to pick it up. The author is unbelievably talented; she weaves such a rich and creative atmosphere with her writing that it's hard to believe this is only her first novel. Plus, both of the MCs, Roma and Leviathan, are such well-written and nuanced characters, and their struggles with grief, freedom, and self-discovery definitely hit hard and get you to cheer them on every step of the way. (I also think the author did a great job of handling some of the heavier topics addressed in this book, specifically grief and sexual assault, without incorporating some of the romanticizing or undermining that I've seen in many other novels.) All in all, this was an excellent debut that kept me excited all the way to the very last page with an ending that absolutely stunned me. Even if I had a bit of a slow start with it, I ended up being far more than pleasantly surprised, and I can't wait to see where Ana Lal Din takes Roma and Levi in the sequel. TWs/CWs: self harm, death, parent death, sickness, violence, guns, sexual assault, sodomization, grief, addiction, drug abuse, suicide, castration, transphobia, bigotry, human trafficking, child trafficking

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