The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill

The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsKit Brightling, who grew up in a home for orphaned girls, is now the captain of her own ship. She’s a good leader, has a great crew, and her magical ability to influence water makes her especially formidable.

Kit works for Queen Charlotte, a benevolent monarch who doesn’t quite feel secure on her own throne. That’s because there are rumors that its previous occupant, the exiled emperor Gerard Rousseau, has been secretly corresponding with disgruntled nobles and may have plans to return with an army and/or a secret weapon.

Queen Charlotte asks Kit and her crew to investigate the rumors and some suspicious activities that may be associated with Gerard’s plans. The queen also assigns Kit a new partner — a nobleman named Rian Grant who, because he’s a veteran, has some expertise that may be helpful in Kit’s mission.

Kit hates Rian Grant immediately, mostly because he’s one of those fancy aristocrats. It’s also alarming that her friend Kingsley, the man she may marry someday, obviously detests Rian and warns Kit to be wary of him. But if Kit and Rian are going to be successful in their work for the queen, they will have to learn to trust each other.

The Bright and Breaking Sea (2020) is the first book in Chloe Neill’s new CAPTAIN KIT BRIGHTLING series. It offers likeable but not fully-developed characters, sea-faring adventures that are entertaining yet are resolved much too easily, some magic, and a lackluster romance.

Chloe Neill

Chloe Neill

In many ways The Bright and Breaking Sea feels like a typical slow-burning romance novel — one of those where the female lead initially has no interest in the male lead, and perhaps even hates him, but they keep getting put in situations where they are forced to be alone together. I could see where this was going pretty much from the start. There were no surprises and, unfortunately, I never felt the chemistry between Kit and Rian.

If it happens to fall into my hands, I’m willing to read the next CAPTAIN KIT BRIGHTLING novel. There are a couple of potentially interesting minor characters (such as a young orphaned girl who stows away on Kit’s ship) and there are some glass-ceiling issues that might be interesting to see played out. I have to say, though, that I don’t quite understand Kit’s misogynistic society. On one hand, Kit is the captain of her own ship with male crew members in her command. Yet when she attends a high society function with a man, she’s expected to bring along a chaperone, an expectation that she readily submits to. Weird.

The audio edition of The Bright and Breaking Sea was produced by Tantor Audio and is very nicely narrated by Danielle Cohen. She was well cast and does a great job with both the female and male voices.

Published in 2020. Chloe Neill brings her trademark wit and wild sense of adventure to a stunning seafaring fantasy starring a dauntless heroine in a world of magic and treachery. Kit Brightling, rescued as a foundling and raised in a home for talented girls, has worked hard to rise through the ranks of the Isles’ Crown Command and become one of the few female captains in Queen Charlotte’s fleet. Her ship is small, but she’s fast — in part because of Kit’s magical affinity to the sea. But the waters become perilous when the queen sends Kit on a special mission with a partner she never asked for. Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, may be a veteran of the Continental war, but Kit doesn’t know him or his motives–and she’s dealt with one too many members of the Beau Monde. But Kit has her orders, and the queen has commanded they journey to a dangerous pirate quay and rescue a spy who’s been gathering intelligence on the exiled emperor of Gallia. Kit can lead her ship and clever crew on her own, but with the fate of queen and country at stake, Kit and Rian must learn to trust each other, or else the Isles will fall….


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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