1866 Magic, curses, and prophecies

Tides of the Sovereign
By Kate Gateley

Victoria: FriesenPress, 2022
$37.99 / 9781039126572

Reviewed by Myshara Herbert-McMyn


Kate Gateley’s debut novel Tides of the Sovereign is a tale a millennium in the making. Julia and Domhnall are fated lovers kept apart lifetime after lifetime when they’re cursed by the infamous Child of Rome: Cassius Longinus. Now, a thousand years after their first lives and deaths, Julia has forgotten everything about who she is. But then her interim History teacher turns out to be an ancient Celtic prince tied to her through centuries of rebirths and tragic deaths.

The different magic users in this world work very well with the way Cowichan Valley’s Gateley creates the magic system. Magic users are divided into two categories: Wielders and Bearers. Wielders pull magic from nature, surrounding objects, and people to channel it where they want it to go. Bearers produce magic themselves and have a higher amount of power to channel. Further, a Wielder can pull magic from a Bearer and use it. Julia is one of the rarer Witches, special individuals who technically fit into both above categories. Julia pulls magic from her own being as well as the world around her. She can channel it to light a candle, for example. Gateley seamlessly integrates this magic system into the fictional “real world” that surrounds our characters. Never once did I question how this magic is kept secret from the non-magical world. Tides of the Sovereign is a great example of a well-built urban fantasy world.

More than once, however, I found myself taking a break from this doorstopper of a novel.

My patience with the characters and their behaviour ran out. And their development takes forever. Julia acts childishly for two-thirds of the novel and refuses to see other points of view, even when she acknowledges that it was a problem. The feminism element to Gateley’s character sticks out as well. Julia repeatedly mentions the lack of women in the room and how no one considers her perspective. Yet she never voices her opinion! Julia doesn’t take the initiative to share her opinion either; she just expects others to give her one. Julia constantly puts herself down because she doesn’t know enough about her powers and how magic functions, and yet she avoids gaining that knowledge. Ultimately, Julia is a frustrating character to follow. She’s her own worst enemy. Domhnall is similar—so set in his ways that he refuses to change or criticize Julia in a way that would help her mature. They keep rehashing the same conversation over the first few hundred pages. If it wasn’t for the plot, I don’t think I could have kept reading.

The plot and the villain neutralize the disappointment surrounding the two heroes. I absolutely love the premise, and Cassius is a brutal, no-holds-barred villain. He stops at nothing to achieve his goal of immortality. Though the prophecy itself is vague on at least one of the details, Cassius is sure of his interpretation and bides his time and uses every available resource to flush out Julia and Dom to end this prophecy once and for all. Alongside their allies and friends, Julia and Dom find themselves tested again and again by Cassius’ intelligence (and fearsome army).

Author Kate Gateley

I enjoy books with a guiding prophecy. It allows the reader to participate even further in the story, giving them hints and allowing them to come up with more in-depth theories about the characters. Prophecy also provides Julia and Dom with a constant stream of tension outside of their relationship. Fast-paced and exciting, the plot-heavy chapters more than make up for the slower pace of the other chapters. Finally, the plot is able to provide Julia and Dom with developmental moments that round out their characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending of Tides of the Sovereign and was pleased with where Julia and Dom ended up.

Tides of the Sovereign is the first novel in Gateley’s The Lost Wells Trilogy. The second book, Mantle of the World Ruler, promises more threats, danger, and excitement. Now that Julia and Dom have settled into the new chapter of their lives and found a rhythm that is more enjoyable to read about, I’m thrilled to see what happens next. You can still catch up before the concluding novel is released, so start reading The Lost Wells Trilogy and discover what dangers our heroes will face in their latest lifetime.


Myshara Herbert-McMyn

Myshara Herbert-McMyn is a book reviewer and aspiring writer living in Kelowna. She runs the blog Lit&Leta. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from Thompson Rivers University. Editors note: Myshara Herbert-McMyn has recently reviewed books by S.M. Freedman, Tiana Warner, Brooke CarterBecky ParisottoSara DesaiTara Moss, and Sonya Lalli for The British Columbia Review.


The British Columbia Review

Interim Editors, 2023-24: Trevor Marc Hughes (non-fiction), Brett Josef Grubisic (fiction)

Publisher: Richard Mackie

Formerly The Ormsby Review, The British Columbia Review is an on-line book review and journal service for BC writers and readers. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Wade Davis, Robin Fisher, Barry Gough, Hugh Johnston, Kathy Mezei, Patricia Roy, Maria Tippett, and Graeme Wynn. Provincial Government Patron (since September 2018): Creative BC. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies.

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