eARC Review: Breakwater by Catherine Jones Payne

eARC Review: Breakwater by Catherine Jones Payne

Release day May 30, 2017!

As the daughter of one of the mer-king’s trusted advisors, seventeen-year-old Jade has great responsibilities. When her fiancé murders a naiad, plunging the underwater city of Thessalonike into uproar, tensions surge between the mer and the naiads.

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Book: Breakwater

Series: Broken Tides

Author: Catherine Jones Payne

Publication Date: May 30, 2017

Publisher: Fathom Ink Press

Page Count: 240

Format: eARC

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Cover Artist:

My Rating:  ★★★½

Breakwater (Broken Tides #1)Breakwater by Catherine Jones Payne
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.


I was already seen as a naiad-lover.

Jade is the daughter of one of the mer-king’s closest advisers. Growing up in a life of privilege and opulence, she knows little of struggle and inequality—other than the fact that her father was killed trying to fight it. 

Engaged to Tor, she prepares for her future with him—until she stumbles upon him in the courtyard, holding a dead naiad girl.

Forced to decide whether to believe his story, or turn him in for the crime which he admits to, Jade is thrust into the world of politics, where privilege and blind eyes are everywhere. With her beloved city on the cusp of war, she grapples with the truth of what is really going on in Thessalonike. 

I think it’s worth mentioning: I dare you to stare at the cover for a while.


I just dare you…

It’s beautiful!

On to the review.

How cruel power, prosperity, and position can be. It is cruel enough to evoke racism, slavery, and trafficking. This story speaks loudly about the injustices of racism and prejudice. In Breakwater, the two races who coexist in Thessalonike are the Mer and Naiads. Mer have resided in Thessalonike for eons, but the Naiads had been taken in as refugees after being forced from their river-homes. 

Things that I liked

#1 The scandal. Although simple, it was well done—so well done, that it took away from the rest of the story. 

#2 The idioms. Even though they are small, and sometimes quirky, I loved them. A few examples were: “the elephant in the room,” replaced by a “blue whale,” and as often said inappropriately in our culture today, “thank God” was instead “thank the tide.” Sometimes these small changes in a story bring the world-building full circle for me. I did still want to see more description, but this helped.

#3 The cliffhanger was completely unexpected! I’m curious to see where this tail (haha—get it?) will go. 

#4 This book is great at walking in the shoes of others. Even in the smallest of versions. In a scene, Jade is talking to her younger brother, Benjamin, and asks how he is after their family has become central to gossip because of Jade’s accusations against Tor. He replies:

“No, I’ll be fine. I haven’t been through nearly as much as you have.”
“Doesn’t mean it isn’t hard,” I said.

I’m not certain why this interaction struck me so. Maybe because it shows the influence an event can have on each and every person, not just the people directly involved. I think it did a good job at—even if not capturing fully—glimpsing each party’s direct or indirect involvement. 

Things that I didn’t like:

#1 Character names varied so widely in this book. From Maximus to Jade, to…George? I felt like it didn’t help the novel to flow together because when I think of a name like Maximus, and then compare it to George—they just don’t go well together. It’s like a mix of ancient world, the 50’s era, and contemporary. This is more of a personal preference, and some people may be entirely fine with the variety. I just didn’t care for it. 

#2 The character development was lacking. As stated earlier, the main topic of this story was discussed majority of the time, and I felt that it pulled attention away from getting to know the characters more. We are privy to Jade’s inner-workings more than anyone else—but I still felt like she needed more complexity. However, I was glad that her character did develop after the instance with Tor. I felt that she went from a silly, conceded teen to, this-is-real-now-young-adult.

#3 I liked the world-building to the point that it took the reader, but this was another area where I wanted to see more of. I wanted to understand the explore the breakwater further, and to get to know more about the history and cultural differences between the races themselves.

#4 The romance/not-so-love-triangle was “meh” to me. I don’t think the story benefited from it much, and made it obsolete for me. 

Overall, it was a good read for the lesson to which it offers. Especially for present times and valid for all peoples being aware of prejudices and inequality and how they effect members of society is imperative. 

Sexual content: Minimal.
Vulgarity: Besides some what I deemed to be derogatory terms in Mer and Naiad tongue, there were none.
Violence: There was some, but it was non-descriptive and didn’t bother me. 

A big thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!


View all my reviews

I am the author behind Foals, Fiction & Filigree. An all-encompassing blog about horses, books, and my art.

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