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Dark Academia Fantasy: CURIOUS TIDES Book Review

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Today, I'm thrilled to be a part of the CURIOUS TIDES by Pascale Lacelle's virtual book tour sponsored by Turn the Page Tours. Discover more of this dark academia fantasy below and read my review!



TITLE: Curious Tides

AUTHOR: Pascale Lacelle


RELEASE DATE: October 3, 2023

GENRES: YA fantasy, dark academia, magic, secret society BUY LINKS:


Ninth House meets A Deadly Education in this gorgeously dark academia fantasy following a teen mage who must unravel the truth behind the secret society that may have been involved in her classmates' deaths.

Emory might be a student at the prestigious Aldryn College for Lunar Magics, but her healing abilities have always been mediocre at best—until a treacherous night in the Dovermere sea caves leaves a group of her classmates dead and her as the only survivor. Now Emory is plagued by strange, impossible powers that no healer should possess.

Powers that would ruin her life if the wrong person were to discover them.

To gain control of these new abilities, Emory enlists the help of the school's most reclusive student, Baz—a boy already well-versed in the deadly nature of darker magic, whose sister happened to be one of the drowned students and Emory's best friend. Determined to find the truth behind the drownings and the cult-like secret society she's convinced her classmates were involved in, Emory is faced with even more questions when the supposedly drowned students start washing ashore—alive—only for them each immediately to die horrible, magical deaths.

And Emory is not the only one seeking answers. When her new magic captures society's attention, she finds herself drawn into their world of privilege and power, all while wondering if the truth she's searching for might lead her right back to face the fate she was never meant to escape.


My Review:

"Curious Tides" by Pascale Lacelle is a dark academia fantasy novel that combines elements of mystery, magic, and secret societies. While it offers an intriguing premise and a unique world of lunar magic, the book falls short in pacing and clarity, earning it a three-and-a-half-star rating out of five.

The story revolves around Emory, a student at Aldryn College for Lunar Magics, who possesses healing abilities that have always been lackluster. However, her life takes a dark turn when a tragic incident in the Dovermere sea caves leaves her as the sole survivor among her classmates. Emory soon discovers that she has acquired strange and uncontrollable powers, which could have dire consequences if exposed to the wrong people.

To make sense of her newfound abilities and uncover the truth behind her classmates' deaths, Emory seeks the help of Baz, a reclusive fellow student with knowledge of darker magic. Baz's motivation stems from the loss of his sister, who was one of the drowned students and Emory's best friend. Together, they delve into the mysteries surrounding a secret society that they believe may have played a role in the tragedy.

One of the book's strengths lies in its world-building. Lacelle has created a captivating universe where lunar magic and dark secrets coexist. The concept of lunar magic adds a unique and enchanting element to the story, making it stand out in the fantasy genre. The integration of a secret society adds an element of intrigue and suspense that keeps the reader engaged.

However, "Curious Tide" faces challenges in its execution. The novel's pacing is sluggish, and it often feels like the story drags on, making it a slow read for those seeking a faster-paced narrative. Additionally, the plot can be confusing at times, with multiple layers of mystery and subplots that can leave the reader disoriented. While complexity can enhance a story, it needs to be balanced with clarity to avoid confusion.

The characters in the novel are well-conceived, each with their own motivations and secrets. Emory's journey of self-discovery and her quest for answers are central to the story. Baz's enigmatic personality and connection to the darker aspects of magic add depth to the narrative. The interactions between these characters are believable and add emotional weight to the story.

One of the book's most significant strengths is its dark and atmospheric tone. Lacelle excels at creating a sense of foreboding and unease, which complements the mystery and fantasy elements of the story. The eerie and magical atmosphere adds depth to the world of Aldryn College and the secret society lurking in the shadows.

In conclusion, "Curious Tides" is a dark academia fantasy with a captivating premise, a unique world of lunar magic, and well-developed characters. However, its slow pacing and occasional confusion in the plot hinder its overall impact. While the book may not be for readers seeking a fast-paced adventure, those who appreciate a more measured and atmospheric approach to fantasy may find it intriguing. I give it three and a half stars out of five, acknowledging its potential but wishing for a more streamlined narrative.

Author of Curious Tides
Pascale Lacelle

About the Author:

Pascale Lacelle (pronounced pass-kal la-cell) is a French-Canadian writer from Ottawa, Ontario. A longtime devourer of books, she started writing her own at the age of 13 and quickly became enthralled by the magic of words. After earning her bachelor’s degree in French Literature, she realized the English language is where her literary heart lies (but please don’t tell any of her French professors that).

When not lost in stories, she’s most likely daydreaming about food and travel, playing with her dog Roscoe, or trying to curate the perfect playlist for every mood.

You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.


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