The Descent of the Drowned by Ana Lal Din

About the Book

Book #1 in The Descent of the Drowned series

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Perspective: 3rd person limited, dual-POV

Publication Date: March 15, 2020 by White Tiger Press

Format: Ebook – Netgalley ARC

Length: 373 pages

Trigger/content warnings: Per the author – physical and emotional abuse, mention of rape, sexual assault, suicide, bigotry, drug abuse, and human trafficking. As a reader, I would add self-harm, transphobia, castration, parent death, sibling death, torture, murder, guns, and slavery, and note that many of the aforementioned scenarios involve children and teens.


She is bound to serve. He is meant to kill. Survival is their prison. Choice is their weapon.

As the sacred slave of a goddess, Roma is of a lower caste that serves patrons to sustain the balance between gods and men. What she wants is her freedom, but deserters are hunted and hanged, and Roma only knows how to survive in her village where women are vessels without a voice. When her younger brother is condemned to the same wretched fate as hers, Roma must choose between silence and rebellion.

Leviathan is the bastard son of an immortal tyrant. Raised in a military city where everyone knows of his blood relation to the persecuted clans, Leviathan is considered casteless. Lowest of the low. Graduating as one of the deadliest soldiers, he executes in his father’s name, displaying his worth. When he faces judgement from his mother’s people—the clans—Leviathan must confront his demons and forge his own path, if he ever hopes to reclaim his soul.

But in the struggle to protect the people they love and rebuild their identities, Roma’s and Leviathan’s destinies interlock as the tyrant hunts an ancient treasure that will doom humankind should it come into his possession—a living treasure to which Roma and Leviathan are the ultimate key.

Set in a colonised Indo-Persian world and inspired by pre-Islamic Arabian mythology, The Descent of the Drowned is a tale about power, identity, and redemption, and what it takes to hold on to one’s humanity in the face of devastation.

About the Author

Ana Lal Din is an #ownvoices author who was born in a Danish southwestern city and raised in a small town outside Copenhagen. At the age of 8, she wrote her first short story after which she decided that she wanted to be a published author.

Passionate about culture, language, religion, and social justice issues, Ana’s story worlds are usually full of all four. What drives her as a writer is developing characters that are psychologically and emotionally complex, reflecting human nature at its darkest and brightest—and everything in between. Since Ana is a Danish-Pakistani Muslim with Indian heritage, she often explores the intricacies of a multicultural identity through her characters.

The Descent of the Drowned is her debut novel and the first in a trilogy.

Follow Ana on Twitter and Instagram.

My Review

Rating: 4/5 stars

An emotional and dark book with amazing characters – I’m already looking forward to book #2!

First, however, the synopsis of this book… in my opinion, it doesn’t quite do the story justice. Yes it touches on some of the major themes, but to say the plot revolved around Roma rescuing her “brother” would not be 100% accurate. I would say the overall story is more about Roma learning to break free while overcoming her past trauma, and the subplot involving her brother is important to that journey but not the only one she must deal with.

The first third or so of this book was so saturated with information— character intros and backstories, descriptions of food and clothes and customs and settings, info on the magic system, multiple subplots, and more —that it left my head spinning. However, I ultimately appreciated all of this information because it helped paint a clear picture of the story moving forward as it’s all woven together. By the end, i felt truly immersed in Roma and Levi’s worlds.

In addition, I would highly recommend reading the trigger warnings for this book and evaluating the state of your mental health before diving in. Because Ana Lal Din’s intent was to “explore a formalised system of inequality“, heavy themes relevant to the overall plot are introduced early on in quick succession. This made for an emotional and impactful story that ripped my heart out and made me want to see the characters succeed even more. That being said, I did have to alternate this book with a romance novel because it was so heavy at times. I cannot speak to the #ownvoices rep in this book, but Ana Lal Din’s heartbreaking and poignant exploration of injustice in a colonised Indo-Persian world was clearly well researched and executed in a deliberate way I wish was more prevalent in YA.

I absolutely loved Roma and Levi and wished I could give them each a big hug. They were such well developed, nuanced characters whose decisions I could understand even when they were questionable. There is no romance in this book, but I loved seeing Roma and Levi’s paths cross and their relationship grow. Of course, my romance-loving heart is hopeful this will change in the future books, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see… and that ending! So unexpected and such a cliffhanger.

This book is definitely a standout in the world of YA. Overall, I learned about and reflected on so many important topic, and I know this story and its characters will stay with me well into the future.

Thank you to White Tigress Press via Netgalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Start Reading!

➜ Add The Descent of the Drowned on Goodreads

➜ Book #2 in the series has an expected publication date of 2022

➜ For more updates, subscribe to Ana Lal Din’s newsletter

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