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Book Review: Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker

Steel Tide (Seafire, #2) by Natalie C. Parker
Genres: Fantasy

The second book in a heart-stopping trilogy that follows the captain of an all-female ship intent on taking down a vicious warlord's powerful fleet.
Caledonia may have lost her crew, but she's not done fighting yet. After nearly dying at the hand of a powerful foe, Caledonia is pulled from the sea and nursed back to health by a crew of former Bullets that call themselves Blades. The Blades escaped Aric Athair's clutches and now live a nomadic existence, ready to disappear at a moment's notice should trouble come their way.
But Caledonia wants to do more than just hide. She wants to find the Mors Navis and her beloved sisters. She wants to continue fighting Aric's fleet and to take back the Bullet seas. She'll need to do everything in her power to convince the Blades that fighting is their only option, that there has to be a life better than the one under Aric Athair's reign, and that finding the women of the Mors Navis is the first step to revolution.


Seafire was one of my favorite reads from last year, and I could not wait to read this sequel. Not only did it not disappoint, it blew any expectations I had out of the water. My heart is still racing. I genuinely think this was the best sequel I’ve ever read.


Steel Tide is a fast-paced adventure, and the stakes are even higher this time around. Like in Seafire, there was never a dull moment with Caledonia and her crew. From the moment Caledonia wakes up in the Blades’ camp, readers are thrust back into her world, with all of its threats and dangers. My heart raced as new twists and turns appeared, as Caledonia planned schemes, as unexpected complications got in the way.

While very plot-driven, the plot also explores the relationships between Caledonia and her crew. These moments that Caledonia shared with other characters were satisfying, and I found it amazing how Parker was able to balance character exploration alongside a fast-paced and plot-driven novel.

I would love a little more romance. Just a little bit. The plot does not suffer with the lack of it by any means, but I’m dying for Caledonia to get some action! She deserves it after all of the exhausting captaining she does.


Parker’s writing style is transporting, taking you out of the real world and plopping you onto the open seas. You feel the wind blowing through your hair, the salt spraying on your face. You watch the sunrise over the horizon. You are also plunged into the throes of battle, listening to Caledonia cry out orders to other members of her crew. You feel like a member of the crew, and it’s immersive.

This does not take away from exploring Caledonia’s internal monologue, even within in the third person. Rather, the third person somehow feels more genuine than if it were written in first person; despite being removed from Caledonia’s exact thoughts, it seems more formal that the ship’s captain would keep readers a degree removed from her thoughts to remind them who’s in charge. Also, the name Caledonia is just so powerful that being reminded of it on every page is just a rush.


Caledonia Styx remains at the forefront of the story, and I continue to love her with all my heart. She remains the fierce captain we began to know and love in the first book, but more of her vulnerabilities show in this one due to the decision she made at the conclusion of Seafire. The juxtaposition between her confidence as a captain and her insecurity about making the hard decisions made her even more lovable and even more human.

Her stubbornness and bravery that we’ve come to know in Seafire are on full-display in Steel Tide, as is increasing insecurity about being a leader. Caledonia begins to feel the weight of her decisions and struggles with making ones that could cost people their lives. I loved seeing this side of her; she begins to learn that she isn’t invincible and that the world isn’t entirely black and white. But I think it’s time to #LetCaledoniaRest2k19.

She let the pain remind her of all she’d done to get here and that this was not the end of Caledonia Styx. Where there was pain, there was promise.

A group of new characters is introduced in this sequel: the Blades, defected Bullets who find Caledonia after her battle with Lir. Parker defines her characters so well that we feel like we’ve known Blades like Sledge, the strong leader of the Blades, Pine, his steely right-hand man who isn’t so happy to have Caledonia around, and Triple, a kind-hearted girl with great skill in battle, all along. Parker’s way of creating characters that fit so seamlessly alongside the already established ones, a sign of a successful sequel.


The Blades are abuse survivors and recovering addicts of Silt, the drug that Aric Athair uses to control his Bullets. Parker treats this part of them with great care. As consent is now the most important thing to them, since it was taken away by Aric, the Blades hold out their palm in order to ask for permission to touch. I found this to be a beautiful unspoken gesture that each of them shared, a group of people who suffered a collective trauma and provide support for one another. Most importantly, the Blades do not dismiss this trauma. Rather, they work on becoming stronger together.

None of us comes back, Caledonia. It’s not possible…If we had, we wouldn’t be here right now, ready to dive into a gunfight without guns of our own…Think of us like individual ships. We’ve been through battle, taken damage to the hull, and even if you can pound it back into shape again, it will never be the same. It’s been changed on an essential level. We didn’t come back from being Bullets. We just got out of the chamber.

Steel Tide was an incredibly satisfying sequel that successfully introduced new characters and made them just as lovable as the ones we already know. My anticipation for the final book is at an all-time high!

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