Publication Date: November 17, 2020
Series or Standalone: Captain Kit Brightling #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
Looking for a great fantasy read with some swashbuckling adventures and a hint of romance? Look no further than The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill. With a diverse world and cast of characters, I couldn’t put this book down! And it only gets better upon rereading as the world-building is exquisite and I picked up on more nuances in the plots, characters and magic.
Captain Kit Brightling, raised as a foundling, has worked her way up the Isle’s Crown Command ranks to become one of the few women captains at a very young age. With an Alignment to the sea, Kit and the crew of the Diana are one of the fastest and cleverest ships out there. When one of the Isle’s spies goes missing, the Queen asks Kit to pair up with Viscount of Queenscliffe Rian Grant to rescue him from a pirate fortress and uncover the traitor within the Crown Command. Kit’s disdain for the Beau Monde leads to Grant and Kit constantly butting heads as they embark upon their mission, but they must learn to trust each other to complete their mission and prevent a new war from happening.
The Bright and Breaking Sea takes place in an alternate world with magic based on England and France during the Napoleonic Wars. Our overarching villain (who lurks off-page) is Gerard Rousseau, who wants to escape his island exile. He’s not really in the book, but his influence is felt throughout. The world feels both familiar yet completely unique. I love the magic system in Neill’s world. It plays a significant role in the plot, yet it also feels so subtle and unique. Magic is to be respected and feared as it’s incredibly powerful, yet people fail to understand or master it. Kit’s unusual in that she sometimes taps into it without it overpowering her, helping her get out of some trouble while captaining the Diana.
I loved the swashbuckling and seafaring adventure in this book. Neill expert weaves in the action scenes into the plot and her writing is incredibly lyrical – you feel as if you’re in the center of the action with Kit and the crew of the Diana. Besides the swashbuckling, this book is also filled with political intrigue as Kit and Grant work to uncover who the traitor to the Crown is and what Gerard’s broader plan is so they can try to prevent another war.
This book also has a hint of romance, but it’s merely a hint. I would have liked a bit more romance, but upon a second reading, I appreciated the slow build of Kit and Grant’s relationship. They start as antagonists, but their relationship slowly progresses to be one of mutual respect as they work together more closely and peel back their initial prejudices. I will say, I didn’t fully understand why Kit has such hatred towards the Beau Monde and Grant in the beginning, but I liked where the relationship ended up. I’m incredibly excited to see where Neill takes their relationship in the second book.
The characters in this book are a treat. I love Kit – she’s an incredibly strong female character. She faces a lot of sexism and adversity for being a woman and being aligned with the sea, but she’s so self-assured and not afraid to do what she thinks is right. She’s also got a ton of emotional depth, and it’s really fun to watch her confront some of her underlying insecurities and prejudice through her relationship with Grant. When it comes to Grant, he’s also an incredibly well-written character with a lot of depth. He’s not a typical Viscount either, which I really enjoyed. He’s a soldier who has faced some terrible battles and is willing to do what is needed to protect those he cares about and defend the Isles.
I feel this book series has slipped under the radar, but it’s truly one of my favorites from Neill. The Bright and Breaking Sea is a fantastic start to the Kit Brightling series, and I’m so excited to see where Neill takes the story next! The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, but it also ups the stakes for the next book. There are so many different places Neill can take the story, and I cannot wait to see what adventures Kit and Grant get up to next.