If you’ve been looking for a spoiler-free Hunt on Dark Waters book review, then look no further, because we’ve got all the glorious details about Katee Robert’s brand-new series, Crimson Sails.
At this point in time, if you’ve read any of my book reviews, you probably know that I am a huge and unapologetic Katee Robert fan. I fell in love with romance because of Neon Gods, and I have been insatiable ever since.
The Dark Olympus series remains my favorite, but I’ve gone back and read some of Katee’s older books and have waited (not so) patiently for her to publish some new titles. Hunt on Dark Waters (Crimson Sails #1) falls into the latter camp, and I am so excited to explore this world and all of its characters.
In this first book, we meet Evelyn, who’s currently shacking up with a vampire named Lizzie. When they have a bit of a falling out, Evelyn’s sticky fingers pick up some family heirlooms and get her into serious trouble. She barely escapes through a portal that she destroys behind her, dumping her out in the middle of the ocean in a place called Threshold, which is a magical sea between realms.
There, Bowen and his crew of pirates fish her out of the water and give her an ultimatum: join them or die. While that might be a no-brainer, Evelyn isn’t the type of person to roll over and do what she’s told—especially without asking a few hard-hitting questions first. And Bowen and his crew aren’t just some random miscreants. They’re the Cŵn Annwn.
It was the concept of Threshold and the addition of the Cŵn Annwn that really drew my attention to this series. I love mythology in all its forms (check out all my coverage of Rick Riordan Presents while you’re at it), and the Cŵn Annwn are particularly interesting. They’re part of Welsh mythology and folklore, and are essentially hounds of the Wild Hunt sent after criminals and those who have done wrong.
But this is a Hunt on Dark Waters book review, and Katee has switched up the origins for her Crimson Sails series just a little bit. Evelyn is from our world, and she’s heard of the Cŵn Annwn. While the real hounds existed a long, long time ago, their purpose and nature has changed over the years, evolving into what we see today.
Bowen and his crew are just one of many charged with protecting the portals of Threshold, along with the realm’s inhabitants. Whenever a creature passes through a gateway, either on accident or with a nefarious purpose, they give them the same ultimatum Evelyn receives. And whenever monsters—dragons, mermaids, etc.—run amok, it’s their job to hunt and kill the creature before they do too much damage.
If that seems harsh to you, then you’re not alone. Evelyn is forced to join Bowen’s crew, but she doesn’t have to like it. In fact, she asks a lot of questions, driving even the ship’s captain to question the intent behind their purpose. Bowen doesn’t like the way Evelyn pushes him to reconsider everything he’s ever known, but he also can’t deny that he doesn’t exactly have answers to all her bothersome queries.
Evelyn and Bowen are a little bit opposites-attract, a little bit grumpy/sunshine. As you can imagine, Evelyn is a boisterous and bright woman who uses her smiles as weapons, charming her adversaries to look in the other direction while she slides the rings right off their fingers. As with all of Katee’s female characters, Evelyn is fierce and fiery, and someone who knows who she is and won’t apologize for it. She may be a thief, but she’s got a heart of gold, and she won’t stand by while innocent lives are wiped from the earth, even if everyone else points at them and yells, “Monster!”
Meanwhile, Bowen is as straight-laced as they come—a captain and a soldier. Someone who has received his orders with solemn acceptance, trusting that what he is doing is right and never bothering to question those in charge. His attraction to Evelyn is immediate, even if he finds her as vexing as she is alluring. Even if she makes him question everything he’s ever known.
And like so many of Katee’s books, there is a hidden depth to both the characters and the story. Bowen doesn’t just accept what Evelyn tells him at face-value; he must work to find the truth on his own, and once he does, it’s not easy to accept it. He has to fight twenty years of manipulation, and that simply won’t happen overnight. Thankfully, Evelyn is there to remind him this will all take time, and the two of them can fight the battle together.
Where there are monsters, there is also magic, and Hunt on Dark Waters has that in spades. I would’ve loved this couple with all my heart regardless, but their abilities truly elevate both the anticipation and execution of the spicy scenes.
As a witch, Evelyn has tattooed some spells on her body in order to be ready for any given scenario at any given time. While she doesn’t necessarily use her magic during sex, there is a scene in which Bowen helps her reinforce some of her spells, and it might as well be foreplay because that shit was hot.
Bowen, on the other hand, is a powerful telekinetic who has immense control over his abilities. Chances are you came to this Hunt on Dark Waters book review knowing what you were getting into, so you can guess what exactly that means. Not only does the good captain use his power to hold her in place and have his way with her, he also uses it in much more intimate ways. When I conducted my interview with Katee Robert for this book, she said this aspect of their time together wasn’t even in the first draft! Thank goodness it ended up in the final version because this was undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of their dynamic.
As is always the case with a Katee Robert book, there is plenty of spice to keep you satiated and plenty of story to keep you entertained. Throughout the entirety of the book, Evelyn is worried about Lizzie closing in on her, as well as convincing Bowen that what he’s doing as part of the Cŵn Annwn is wrong. It comes to an explosive ending (in more ways than one!), and sets us up perfectly for the next book in the series, Blood on the Tide, which follows Lizzie and Maeve.
I am so incredibly excited to keep learning more about this world, as well as the mysterious and dangerous Council of the Cŵn Annwn, who are definitely up to no good. I’m also excited to learn more about Lizzie and to (hopefully) see a softer side of her with Maeve. I’ve always found selkies particularly interesting, and I can’t wait to see what she’s like in the next book.
Crimson Sails is shaping up to be an amazing new addition to Katee Robert’s vast catalogue, and I have no doubt that it’ll entertain and entrance fans both new and old as we delve deeper into Threshold and the boundless secrets it contains.
‘Hunt on Dark Waters’ published on November 7, 2023.
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