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Key Descriptors: fables, oral storytelling, quick read

Premise: In a world where magic is mundane and allows exceptional skill at everyday tasks, a young girl who’s still seeking her Knack befriends a fabled sea monster…. and in doing so becomes the enemy of the society she desperately wishes to be a part of. Kaimana may triumph and save her friend while also finding her place in the world, or she may be torn in two trying to salvage her hopes and dreams from destruction.

Review: If you enjoy short fables and oral storytelling, this may well be the book for you. As in They Mostly Come Out at Night (TMCOAN), Where the Waters Turn Black (WTWTB) alternates between a chapter that forwards the plot and a chapter that is a fable set in that world. I found this approach to be novel and effective. It was also fun to see the growth in Patrick’s writing between the two books – WTWTB was by far stronger in terms of characterization, pacing, and generally in plot. I found it hard to care about the protagonist in TMCOAN, whereas I truly enjoyed Kaimana’s story arc and character growth.

Although I did come to be engaged in Kaimana’s story, I still largely find Patrick’s writing to feel a bit “distant” compared to my favorite authors. I’m not sure if it’s due to the sparser prose or the lighter folklore tone. In any case, this is what dropped it down to a 3-star vs 4-star book for me. I highly recommend Patrick to folks looking to get more into the indie writing scene, however.

Recommended to: people who enjoy folklore, bite-sized vignettes a la Anansi stories, and those who like mundane magic systems.

Not recommended to: fans of heavy political fantasy or fans of dense prose.