Book Review: Castle of Water

Castle of Water

by: Dane Huckelbridge

Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Finished on: September 6, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Dane Huckelbridge, in return for my honest review.  All opinions expressed below are my own.

Castle of Water tells the survival story of Sophie and Barry, whose small plane crashes into the middle of the South Pacific and they are the only survivors.  They are stranded on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere with only each other for company.

"Love, hope, renewal - such things all spring eternal"

My review:
I went into Castle of Water with high expectations.  Pretty much every review I read online was a five star review and readers were obsessed with this novel.  Even since I finished this book, pretty much every review I've seen has been absolutely glowing.  So, I'll admit that I was expecting a bit of a gut punch from this one.  For me, a five star review is a book that is hands down the most amazing thing I've read in quite some time.  I rarely rate books as five star reads, as I think a 5 star rating should be exception.  I do give a lot of 4 stars (really liked it) and even some 4.5 stars, but a 5 star is my "unicorn" read.  So please know that going into my review.

First, lets talk about the cover for Castle of Water.  It is reminiscent of Polynesian sunsets over the ocean.  I love the bright colors and simplicity of the cover design at first glance.  I also really like the pattern/depth within the sunset upon closer inspection (grab a copy and really LOOK).  I think that Jonathan Bennett (cover designer) did an amazing job with it!  And also, what a cool job to have!

"She stares at each one for a long time, struggling to make aesthetic sense of something that, much like a human life or the future before her, she suspects might not make any sense at all.  They're just too big, too beautiful, too hard to take in all at once."
(Yes!  How I feel about art!)

Moving on to the other positive aspects of the novel -- Castle of Water is ultimately a love story, but it never makes you feel like you are reading a love story.  If you are someone who shies away from a romance novel, then know that this will not feel like a romance or love story.  The characters feel natural and not over-the-top in their relationships.  To that point, I loved Barry and Sophie's relationship as it developed over years.  Their banter and their annoyance with each other felt realistic.  If I was stuck on a desert island with my boyfriend, I think we'd treat each other similarly. (Okay, that is a lie, I'd be whinier and we would probably drive each other crazy).

"Their relationship was the bulb that burned on in the darkness; their love was the riffling that kept the sails intact.  And they didn't need a preacher or priest or an until death do us part to place benediction upon that which was abundantly clear."
(this is my favorite quote from Castle of Water and probably my favorite recent quote from any book)

Some aspects of the book were a bit distracting to me.  I know other readers loved the French dialogue thrown in, but these were hard for me as a reader.  I personally don't like to have to pause to look things up and felt like I missed something when I didn't know many of the translations.  Each time I encountered one, I found myself thinking of the words and trying to guess the translation and this pulled me out of the plot.

Further, the survival aspect was a bit of a tough sell for me.  I simply had a hard time believing that Barry and Sophie could have figured out how to do all of the amazing things they did.  I mean, I want to believe that if I were in the same situation I would figure out what I needed to do to survive, but I surely wouldn't be as successful as these two.

"Nothing.  Nothing happened.  I had pretty much given up.  I hated my life, I was miserable, but I had security and comfort, and I was too scared to leave it behind and venture off into the unknown like that."
(seriously this description is spot on)

Overall, I rate this 4/5 stars.  While the writing in this novel was superb, I never found myself lost in the story.  I didn't connect to either Sophie or Barry, as much as I wanted to.  The setting is gorgeous and the writing and world building is superb, so I see why people fall totally in love with this book.

"And so on and on does the cardiac beat in this polka called life"
(now on to the next read)


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