The Breathing Sea

It is difficult to separate these two books and just review one at a time. The first book naturally flowed into the second almost like one big mini-series. Dash is a young lady who has some very big shoes to fill. It is expected that she will take-over for her mother. However, this isn’t exactly how she wants to spend her life.

From the very beginning, the author created a world that was so easy to see in my mind. Considering the genre, that is very important to me. If the world building is not solid, the story becomes drudgery. I can say it wasn’t the world building or the characters that bogged me down as a reader. What bogged me down was long passages of internal monolog with very little action. However, let me stress that I think is my issue and not an issue with either book, I took a lot of breaks and I found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it. I think books like this are good every once in awhile to help challenge my mind. Most high-end fantasy books do challenge me, yet I keep coming back to them. The author sat out to create a fantasy story centering on all human emotions and traits and I believe she a fantastic job with this.

I do want to add one more note and that is, I knew nothing of the previous two books from this series, but I don’t think that bothered me at all. The second book picks up exactly where the first ends, so I would recommend getting both books at the same time to make the experience flow together more.



Dasha is a gift from the gods. Only she’s not very gifted. Or at least so it seems to her. Eighteen years ago, Dasha’s mother made a bargain with the gods. She would bear a gods-touched child, one who would stand on the threshold between the worlds, human and divine. Dasha is that child, now almost ready to become a woman, and one day take her mother’s place as Empress of all of Zem’. Except that Dasha is shy, lonely, and one of the least magically inclined girls in the Known World. Instead she has fits and uncontrollable visions. When she sets off with her father on her first journey away from her home kremlin, she hopes she will finally find someone who can help her come into her powers. But those whom she finds only want to use her instead. What will it take for her to unlock the abilities hidden within her, and take up her proper place in the world? The sequel to the award-winning novel “The Midnight Land,” “The Breathing Sea” returns to the land of Zem’, where animals speak, trees walk, and women rule. Filled with allusions to Russian history, literature, and fairy tales, this coming-of-age tale straddles the line between high fantasy and literary fiction.


Tormented by her growing visions and unable to bear her companions any longer, Dasha has fled into the woods with the spirits who have promised to help her. But not all promises can be kept. Dasha must strike off on her own and learn to fend for herself for the first time in her life. With war on the borders of Zem’, the woods hold more dangers than bears, wolves, and hunger, and Dasha’s greatest threat may be within her. Can she learn to control herself and her magic before she endangers herself, her companions, and perhaps her country itself? And what price will that control demand? How much will Dasha have to sacrifice in order to save herself and her land, and will that sacrifice be voluntary—or not?

“The Breathing Sea II: Drowning” is the sequel to “The Breathing Sea I: Burning” and a continuation to The Zemnian Series.


E.P. Clark starting writing fiction as soon as she deigned to learn to read, which was not particularly early–she spent a good deal of her childhood doing more important things, such as pretending to be a unicorn. Slightly later, she wanted to be a world-class equestrian. But, much to her surprise, the heavy finger of fate pointed her way and she ended up moving to Russia, which led, very circuitously, to her earning graduate degrees in Russian from Columbia University and UNC-Chapel Hill, and her current employment teaching Russian at Wake Forest University, along with some odd travel opportunities. The picture, for example, was taken in Finnish Lapland, shortly before she was almost trampled by stampeding reindeer. She continued writing fiction throughout all this, however, and has had multiple short stories published. This is her first novel, in what is shaping up to be a trilogy in seven volumes.



  1. Great review I really need to read high fantasy books. I don’t think I have ever read high fantasy books before. Because I am really scare that I will get so confused with the world building and the complexity of it. But these books looks and sounds absolutely fantastic. I am really curious and intrigued by them. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post and putting these books on my radar!

  2. I totally understand the way long monologues can bog a story down. I like how the second book picks up where the first leaves off. The covers for these two are amazing! Great review!

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