Review | These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.

Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.

Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.

As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.

Title: These Rebel Waves

Author: Sara Raasch

Genre: Fastasy/YA

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My initial thoughts when picking this book up were ‘River pirates? How would that work??’ and ‘Oh the plants are magic? That’s cool!’ and honestly, not much past that.

Well this book exceeded all my expectations!

Firstly, botanical-based magic IS very cool. It toes the line between medicine and magic very closely, so you could absolutely see these plants being real. One that heals, one that explodes in a smoke screen, and one that paralyses, sure we’ve seen similar things in the real world. One that allows you to hover for the length of time of one breath, one that allows you to hear across vast distances via linked pods, and one that dissolves internal organs, now here’s where this gets exciting!

The premise is based around Stream Raiders (effectively river pirates) who dig for the magic plants in riverbeds and the book is split via three different perspectives:

Lu (Adeluna): A politician who grew up as a spy and child-warrior of the resistance of Grace Loray, fighting the oppressive Argridians trying to conquer the island with their extreme religious beliefs.

Vex (Devereaux Bell): The dashing pirate of the bunch. A rogue Stream Raider not affiliated with any particular Syndicate of the Island, clearly has some big secrets he’s desperate to keep hidden. (One thing: How do you get ‘Vex’ as a nickname for Devereaux??)

Ben (Benat): The Prince of a country that thinks of magic as evil brought about by demons. He is conflicted by their potential healing uses, and the thoughts about if these should also be banned.

I personally enjoyed Benat’s chapters the least out of them all. He was nice, and he had some drama, but I didn’t believe Benat’s and Jacks’ relationship that much. They seemed far more like friends who kiss occasionally than two people in love. There wasn’t much depth of emotion. I’m also kind of annoyed that the only LGBT+ relationships mentioned are either broken up or toxic with a power imbalance…

Lu and Vex however were badass and awesome, with witty one-liners and a fantastic chemistry. I could have done with just more of them. Maybe one or two flashes to over the sea and the Prince, and then back to Lu and Vex!

The world Sara Raasch has built and the stream raiders working with the new government of Grace Loray is so interesting and I could see it happening. The problems during the book are complex and difficult to solve so it really lends a depth to the story and you get invested in how everything will work itself out.

Also, the change in perception of the island as the characters begin to understand more is really subtle and I believed in Lu’s journey of discovery and acceptance that her beliefs might not be as rock solid as she thought. It really endeared me to her that she changed her mind on some issues that she’d been so certain about before because new evidence was presented to her.

I would always love to see more Nayali in future: an LGBT+ pirate in any form is always a good thing in my books. She’s impulsive, but ACTUALLY impulsive, because she messes up plans with her impulsivity so it actually works as a flaw rather than a quirk.

The twists in this book were also very shocking, I genuinely didn’t see them coming and I love that! The ending itself was also very dramatic and exciting and left me wishing for more. Bring on the next book!