ARC Review: On These Black Sands by Vanessa Rasanen


Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Title: On These Black Sands
Author: Vanessa Rasanen
Series: Aisling Sea #1
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: New Adult
Format: eARC
Length: 436 pages
Publisher: Crab Apple Books
Release Date: August 10, 2021
Source: Book of Matches Media tour
Recommended for fans of: Pirates of the Caribbean



In one month, Aoife Cascade will turn twenty and take her seat on the Council of Cregah, an honor she’s been preparing for her whole life. But when she lets a secret slip to her mother with devastating consequences, all her plans for the future crumble. Believing her people to be better off without her, she flees Cregah, stowing away aboard a pirate ship bound for dangerous waters.


Captain Declan McCallagh is young compared to the pirate lords, but after twelve years on the grueling sea, he has earned a well-respected ship and the attention of the lords, who’d like nothing better than to see his ruin. All he wants is to leave the Aisling Sea—and his past—behind him. But when his sister demands he find the enchanted dagger her rebel faction needs to overthrow the ruling Council, he’ll have to decide whether to cast off all family ties or take the perilous voyage to waters guarded by sirens, only passable with the help of the last remaining fae, currently imprisoned by the Council.

With murder and betrayal at every turn, can Aoife and Declan learn to rely on one another? Or will the secrets they carry destroy their people—and each other?


I love the premise of this book. An island where women are in charge and keep a treaty with pirates to ensure peace on their shores? Sign me up. I also love how the Irish influence establishes a distinct world (and thank you for including a pronunciation guide BEFORE the book). And of course, I am here for the slow burning romance and Declan’s swoon worthy moral grayness.

I struggled a bit with Aoife’s character and the pacing of the story in general. Aoife is SO unbelievably naive, especially at the beginning of the book, and her inner monologue grew very repetitive. Her decision to leave home felt rushed, but overall the pacing of the book was a bit slow.

The ending includes a fairly predictable betrayal, but it sets up quite nicely for a sequel! And can I just say that Tommy is the real MVP? I need more of his character in the next book.

Thank you to the author and Book of Matches Media for the eARC.

Author: Caroline | Carolibrary

Hello! I’m Caroline! I am a teacher, a book lover, and a nerd. My passions include reading, writing, bookstagram, barre & yoga, baking, binging TV shows, and Star Wars. I love stories in all formats because they can transport you to a different world while helping you understand the world around you. I have always found books to be a particularly magical source of imagination.

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