***This book was reviewed for the San Francisco Book Review and via Netgalley
****Trigger/ age warning for explicit sexual situations
Ocean’s Fire, by Stacey Tucker, is the first in the Equal Night Trilogy. Young Skylar has recently lost her mum, Cassie, to the relentless ravages of cancer. In the maelstrom aftermath of such loss, Skylar learns of her family’s legacy, and the true power of the Book of Akasha. Is she ready for the responsibilities newly thrust upon her? It is time for the power of women, and women’s mysteries, to reclaim their rightful place in world cosmology. Thankfully, Skylar has help along her path in the form of Ocean, Beatrice, and others.
This book had a strong theme of loss which hit me hard. My paternal grandmum raised me much of my formative years, shaping a great deal of my spirituality. Even well-prepared, her passing was a harsh blow to me. Skylar struggled with the loss of her mum through much of the book, making it easy for me to be invested in her and her growth through the novel.
I enjoyed the lore behind the book. It came across as well-researched. I love when books incorporate known mythology, bringing it forward for new audiences, and interpreting it in new ways. It rarely fails to get people interested in the ancient lore as well. Greek mythos, and lore of the Akashic Record have been of interest to me for a long time, as an anthropologist, a lorekeeper, and one interested in the magickal side of life. Women’s mystery cults and women’s mysteries today are sadly lacking in many stories, as they are lacking in society as a whole. As a whole, we’ve chosen to cut off half of what makes us human. If writers today can help shepherd that neglected half back into the mainstream of our modern mythology, perhaps that change can filter to the rest of society.
Oh, and horses! I loved the horses. Especially on the beautiful cover. I must say, this cover ranks as a favourite for the artwork. While the main lore is Greek, the horse symbology reminded me of Rhiannon of Welsh myth, and, of course, the horse goddess Epona.
There are explicit sexual situations throughout the book. Nothing in the description suggested this might be contained within. It would be just as well served with implied sexual scenes, than those bordering on the erotic. If this is to be part of the draw of the book, as with books by Laurell K Hamilton, some mention is needed in the book blurb/synopsis. Several of said scenes did feel contrived, and not as necessary to the story.
There also seemed a theme of casual cheating. Now, I’m not a prudish person. I function in an open relationship. But we chose that, and are up front. If people agree to function in a monogamous relationship, and easily break that, I find them very untrustworthy. No one just ‘finds themselves in that situation’. You can always say no. If you are weak-willed, either own up to that and accept the consequences, or make sure to avoid, or remove yourself from, temptation.
There were also times when the dialogue felt too stilted and formal, especially from twenty-odd college students. I would expect more contractions in speech with this age range. Most of the time I was able to gloss over it, but sometimes I got jarred from the story.
Overall, this was a decent read. Sure, there’s room for growth, but I did find it enjoyable, and will likely check out the next in series, once available.