The Kraken King
Author: Meljean Brook
Reviewer: Jen Twimom
What I’m Talking About:
Note: This review (with minor edits) was originally posted on June 9, 2014 after all parts of the serialized novel were released.
Zenobia Fox, sister of the infamous adventurer Archimedes Fox, spends more time living vicariously through the intrepid tales she pens rather than out in the real world. She embarks on journey with Helene, her childhood friend, to the Red City, where Helene’s husband works as the French ambassador to Nippon. However, as their airship approaches the Australian continent, it is attacked by marauders and shot down near Krakentown. Luckily the governor of Krakentown, Ariq, aka The Kraken King, is able to rescue Zenobia and her associates. Meanwhile, Ariq has only one goal and that is to protect his town and citizens. He doesn’t have time for the distractions Zenobia brings; however, he insists on escorting Zenobia and Helene on the dangerous route to the Red City himself.
The Kraken King shares the wonderful story of how a sheltered spinster and a honorable warrior meet and fall in love. Their journey is unlike any I’ve read before, and I was simply blown away. Although the story takes place in the familiar (to me) world of Ms. Brook’s Iron Seas series, almost all aspects of this story are unique and new. The reader is introduced to a number of supporting characters throughout the first few chapters, but I never felt overwhelmed or confused. The author does a wonderful job creating an immediate connection to the characters and the story. In addition, the locale for the book is one that Ms. Brook has not touched on prior to this book. The world-building is tight and absolutely riveting. Ms. Brook creates such vivid visual imagery, that I almost feel like I’m right there, aside the characters – seeing everything they see. I also enjoyed the additional new creatures and gadgets that make appearances throughout the novel.
Although The Kraken King was originally penned as an eight-part serial, the book, when read from start to finish, remains a solid, cohesive story. The action is well-paced, and although there are several riveting scenes, the story also has some well-placed down times. I appreciate how the author slows the entire story about mid-way through the book, affording Ariq and Zenobia some one-one-one time. These moments are the ones that provide for emotional character growth and allowed me to connect to the couple on a deeper level.
The overall story involving the marauders, who they work for, and discovering what the ultimate goal is for Ariq’s adversaries is exciting and well-played. Pieces of the puzzle come together in chunks, and the reader has both Ariq and Zenobia’s observations and intelligence to guide the way through the maze. I absolutely loved the climatic scenes and overall direction of this ongoing plot. Ariq was placed into an impossible situation, and I appreciate how the author addressed the complexity of the situation, coming to a conclusion that is both emotionally and intellectually satisfying. The story is written with an eye for detail, creating intense tension, which is never over-the-top or gratuitous. I cannot stress how well done the whole situation is written.
Although the story itself is phenomenal, the heart of The Kraken King is the unbelievably touching and rousing romance between Ariq and Zenobia. The sexual tension between the pair is outstanding. It is amplified by the reader’s capability to see into both characters’ minds and hearts. Ms. Brook does a fantastic job bringing the pair close and then pulling them apart just a little bit. What I appreciate is that the issues and problems driving a wedge between the couple, while they are mostly misunderstandings, hold some basic truth behind the concerns. And the consequences of any wrong action could be the lives of the people closest to both. The conflict and hidden truths are well-established, so the back and forth nature does not feel contrived.
When Ariq makes statements like
“He hadn’t known that simply holding her in his arms would feel like a gift.”
how can one NOT be moved? The pair’s love grows with each chapter, and the struggle to find the happy middle while keeping their individual identities only adds to the strength of their relationship. They share both intimate and humorous moments, giving and taking, examining and feeling. I simply adore their journey discovering a love that is true and deep.
Honestly, I could just go on and on about The Kraken King. From start to end, the romance, humor, and political intrigue are sublime. The entire story builds to a crescendo that is the culmination of everything which came before it: every word, every look, every emotion… they all build and explode. The emotions are so powerful that they provoked true tears from my eyes. The suspense so gripping that my heart was pounding in reaction. The stakes are high and I am happy to report that every conflict is resolved. I am completely satisfied with the emotional content, the tension and action, and the conflict resolution. I feel that Ms. Brook does a marvelous job wrapping up the story without giving readers an easy out.
I just don’t know how to put into words how wonderful this book is as a whole. You know when you finish a book with a full heart and tears of joy streaming down your cheeks? Sad for the story to end, but so happy with what happened? It is definitely my favorite read so far this year and my first perfect A+ book of 2014. Ariq and Zenobia have become my favorite all-time romance couple. This story brought tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart. It’s just THAT GOOD!
My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite
This book is also one of…
About the Book:
A former smuggler and thief, Ariq—better known as the Kraken King—doesn’t know what to make of the clever, mysterious woman he rescues from an airship besieged by marauders. Unsure if she’s a spy or a pawn in someone else’s game, Ariq isn’t about to let her out of his sight until he finds out…
After escaping her fourth kidnapping attempt in a year, Zenobia Fox has learned to vigilantly guard her identity. While her brother Archimedes is notorious for his exploits, Zenobia has had no adventures to call her own—besides the stories she writes.
But when she jumps at the chance to escape to the wilds of Australia and acquire research for her next story, Zenobia quickly discovers that the voyage will be far more adventurous than any fiction she could put to paper…
Release Date: November 4, 2014 (print edition)
Series: Iron Seas #4
Genre: Steampunk Romance, alternate timeline
Format(s): paperback (576 pages), ebook
Book Source: Publisher
The Kraken King (The Iron Seas #4)
Reviews in the Series:
“The Blushing Bounder” by Meljean Brook (Wild & Steamy) (Iron Seas #0.4)
“Here There Be Monsters” by Meljean Brook (Burning Up) (Iron Seas #0.5)
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (Iron Seas #1)
“Mina Wentworth and the Invisible City” by Meljean Brook (Iron Seas #1.5)
Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook (Iron Seas #2)
“Tethered” by Meljean Brook (Iron Seas #2.5)
Riveted by Meljean Brook (Iron Seas #3)
“Wrecked” by Meljean Brook (Fire & Frost) (Iron Seas #3.4)
“Salvage” by Meljean Brook (Enthralled) (Iron Seas #3.5)