ARC Review: The Black Tides of Heaven – J. Y. Yang

Book cover: Akeha sitting on a cloud, on top of a mountain.The Black Tides of Heaven is one of a pair of unique, standalone introductions to JY Yang’s Tensorate Series, which Kate Elliott calls “effortlessly fascinating.” For more of the story you can read its twin novella The Red Threads of Fortune, available now.

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While his sister received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What’s more, he saw the sickness at the heart of his mother’s Protectorate.

A rebellion is growing. The Machinists discover new levers to move the world every day, while the Tensors fight to put them down and preserve the power of the state. Unwilling to continue to play a pawn in his mother’s twisted schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebels. But every step Akeha takes towards the Machinists is a step away from his sister Mokoya. Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond he shares with his twin sister?

I received an ARC of The Black Tides of Heaven from NetGalley. I requested this novella, and its twin novella (The Red Threads of Fortune), because the covers were both amazing and I was intrigued in the stories after reading the blurbs. I reviewed The Red Threads of Fortune here.

This book is #ownvoices for South-East Asian representation. The book is set in an alternative world.

This novella is structured very differently to The Red Threads of Fortune, which I did not expect. Thus is took me some time to get used to the different structure. I assumed that Akeha would be an adult from the beginning of the story. However, this novella focuses more on how time, even though it is intangible, influences a person’s character and personality. The chapters are snippets of different events in Akeha’s life, each pictured due to the fact that they changed the course of his life.

There are several queer topics that are mentioned in the story. One of them is that not every person wants to change their body to fit the gendernormative expression. Another is that people do not decide what gender they are. There is also a relationship between Akeha and another man.

The Black Tides of Heaven focuses on describing the cast the Tensorate series to the reader. Through Akeha’s experiences, we learn more about who the different people are and what position they hold in the society. I was especially drawn towards Sonami, who was a substitute mother to Akeha and his twin sister, Mokoya. I have a feeling that Sonami will play a larger role in the upcoming novel. I was also very intrigued by Akeha and Mokoya’s birth mother, as she is an interesting study of evil.

The Black Tides of Heaven is an intriguing fantasy. I enjoyed reading about the main character’s personal development from his birth to adulthood.

I read this book after The Red Threads of Fortune, however I think that they can be read in both orders.

Trigger warnings: death of family members.

5 stars

Have you read The Black Tides of Heaven? Are you interested in the Tensorate series?


3 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Black Tides of Heaven – J. Y. Yang

  1. I loved this novella! I’m currently reading the second one The Red Threads of Fortune. I hope it’s going to be as good as the Black Tides 🙂


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