BBNYA Blog Tour Review: Beneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela Deen

Hello, hello friends! I’m so excited to be back for another blog tour hosted by @The Write Reads for BBNYA 2021 finalist Beneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela Deen. Don’t forget to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour: here or click on the banner below! 😍

*For those who want to know more about BBNYA more information about the competition can be found at the end of my post!*

Special thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Beneath Cruel Fathoms
Publisher: Fine Fable Press
Publish Date: 17 May 2019
Genre: Adult Fantasy, Romance Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

After a violent storm destroys her ship, Isaura Johansdottir knows better than to hope she’ll be rescued from Eisland’s vast Failock Sea. Adrift and alone, her plans to start over lost, it’s a tragic conclusion after the disastrous end of her marriage—until she’s saved by Leonel, one of the merfolk, a creature long believed extinct. In repayment for her life, Leonel enlists her help to investigate the Failock’s mysterious and deadly plague of squalls. But when Isaura discovers Eisland’s ruthless new Lord commands the storms, her life will be in more danger on land than it ever was at sea.

As guardian of the Fathoms, Leonel must find the cause of unnatural storms ravaging the tidal currents and destroying the sea life. There are rumors of dark magic stirring in the Orom Abyss, the resting place of old, vanquished gods who tried to submerge the land millennia ago. Yet without proof, no one in King Ægir’s court will listen to him. And if it’s discovered he broke the Blue Laws to save a shipwrecked landweller, he might not survive the consequences.

As storms spread, Leonel and Isaura uncover secrets as forbidden as the bond that grows between them. Betrayal lurks in the restless sea, and when ancient powers lay siege to Eisland’s coast, the truth may be drowned along with everything else

A child of two cultures, this hapa haole Hawaiian girl is currently landlocked in the Midwest. After exploring the world for a chunk of years, she hunkered down in Minnesota and now fills her days with family, fiction, and the occasional snowstorm. With a house full of lovable toddlers, a three-legged cat, and one handsome Dutchman, she prowls the keyboard late at night while the minions sleep. Coffee? Nah, she prefers tea with a generous spoonful of sarcasm.

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TL;DR: Deen really took me on a whole rollercoaster of emotions, especially towards the end when I found myself gripping tightly to the edge of my seat as I turned the final pages. I would highly recommend this if you love a well-written, atmospheric story about merfolk, vengeful Norse gods and dark magic, with wonderfully developed characters, strong family ties and a soft and swoony slow-burn romance! Can has book two now, pls? 🥺

This book has actually been on my radar for quite some time and after reading it now, I feel a bit silly for putting it off for so long because I loved it! Epilogue endings such as the one in this book should be illegal because my heart—I’m not okay! 🙃

“Creating life is one use of a woman’s form, but not it’s singular purpose. There’s more than one way to leave a legacy.”

Beneath Cruel Fathoms gave me reverse Little Mermaid but make it dark and adult vibes, and it came with a heaping dose of Norse mythology, magic, and fast-paced action on land and in the sea. It’s safe to say that I was sucked in from the very beginning! The writing was wonderfully immersive and atmospheric and was steadily paced throughout. Whether it’s describing the magical beauty of the fathoms, the frightening tempestuous storms or small village life on Eisland, the writing excelled at absorbing me in each setting and it was no hardship to picture the story come to life before my eyes. I’ve read a few Norse mythology-inspired stories before but never about Ægir and Ran, so this was something new that I enjoyed; plus, I feel like Norse deities are known for their viciousness and Deen certainly doesn’t shy away from showing their casual cruelty towards mortals here. The mystery was fast-paced and there were some delightful twisty turns that I thought I predicted well but actually got completely wrong 😂 and I enjoyed how the elements were brought together at the end.

“Far preferable to grieve the loss of something he loved over the false safety of a numb heart.”

The story is told from two POVs and our main characters were well-fleshed out and so easy to empathise with. When we meet them they’re mired in self-doubt and loneliness and have much to process and overcome. Isaura has just returned home from the capital after her divorce and she struggles to deal with feelings of unworthiness because of it. A small content warning here about infertility, a topic that I didn’t expect to encounter in this but one the author handles very sensitively. Through Isaura’s experience, Deen tackles the shame women feel about infertility and addresses antiquated views about women’s role in society as child-bearers first and foremost. Isaura’s grief and struggle to cope with her feelings and the fear of also disappointing others was heartbreaking and realistic. But she’s not defined by this and I loved her courage, strength and humour and I thought she was a fantastic MC!

Similarly, Leonel is drowning under the weight of expectations put upon him by his immortal “family” and feelings of inadequacy as he continues to ‘fail’ to measure up. He’s the guardian of the fathoms and takes his duty as the carer of ocean life very seriously and that really came through in the writing. He’s also the last of the merfolk but growing up in a society that ridiculed and abused him for his mortality led him to isolate himself and trust nobody. His loneliness was a palpable thing and my heart hurt for him as he yearned for companionship but didn’t trust himself to accept it. He totally captured my heart and I wanted to protect this sweet bean of a merman at all costs! 🥺

“The sight of her was not unlike the impact of the waves he fought in the storms. Only he didn’t want to fight, even though he was sinking.”

They both had a lot to process in order to heal which they did individually and together and it was so heartwarming to see them finally accept that they’re not broken and unworthy and that they deserve happiness with each other. Their romance was a soft and sweet slow-burn with so much cheeky/quippy banter and several swoontastic moments that really sent me! 😍 They have a wonderful connection and the understanding and respect that develops between them were beautiful! Aside from the romantic love though, I adored the familial love too. Isaura’s family were fantastic in every way and their presence really brightened the story! They were kind, supportive and hilarious and I cracked up often at their good-natured ribbing, especially between her father and aunt! The relationship between Isaura and her heart-brother, Jurek, was my favourite though—the loyalty and love they had for each other really pulled on my heartstrings and got me all teary-eyed! 🥲 Leonel might’ve been lonely for most of his life but he did have Ava, the one sister who cared for him. I was so intrigued by her feisty character and there’s a backstory there that I can’t wait to explore further in the second book. I’m seriously excited about it!

Overall, I enjoyed reading this so much and I sped through it overnight. I’m already eagerly anticipating the second book and can’t wait to get my hands on it especially since, based on the synopsis, it will be told from Jurek’s and Ava’s POVs and YES!!!


BBNYA is a yearly competition where Book Bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website or Twitter @bbnya_official.

The sign-ups will soon be open for the 2022 BBNYA competition, be it for authors to enter their books, or for bloggers wanting to be part of the new panel, so keep your eyes peeled!!

Have you read Beneath Cruel Fathoms or is it on your TBR?

16 thoughts on “BBNYA Blog Tour Review: Beneath Cruel Fathoms by Anela Deen

  1. Yay! I’m so glad you loved this one, Dini! I adored it too. Leonel is so sweet, and the romance between him and Isaura is one of my faves. They have such a lovely connection and there are so many swoon-worthy moments. And I loved the sibling relationship – can’t wait for Jurek’s story next!

    Liked by 1 person

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