Ocean's Blood (The Drowning #1), by Thelma Mantey

4 Feb 2024

The Book

Ocean's Blood
Series: The Drowning
Pages: 371
Age Group: Adult
Published on 29 Jan 2024
Publisher: Self-Published
Dark FantasyRomance
Available on:


“He looked newly born, as if the ocean spat him out of its womb, naked and wet, a creature made of waves and tides, of liquid and darkness, something that would slip through his fingers as soon as he tried to grasp it.”

Vindt’s tranquil life as a lord’s son comes to an abrupt end when his homeland is overthrown. Friends, family, his freedom—he loses it all to Singers and their dark song magic. Human in appearance, Singers are a different species. Their powers only fail against the demons hunting them. But even this flaw has a patch: humans with a rare and valuable “trait”. It allows Singers to take over their voice and use it like a weapon. Vindt turned out to possess this trait, and was bound to a Singer by blood. Ever since, he has struggled to break free.

Unexpectedly, a chain of events binds him to a new master, the sly and enigmatic Asche. From day one, their egos clash. Only, their encounter was no coincidence; Asche needs him—but for what? To free the Singers from the curse that plagues them? Or because Asche is on a quest for power, as the Singer’s brethren believe, who are determined to bring him down? Caught in the middle of their fight, Vindt gets yet another unexpected opponent: his wayward feelings for someone he’s supposed to hate.

When Asche’s enemies offer Vindt freedom in exchange for delivering Asche into their hands, Vindt has to make a choice.

CAPTIVE PRINCE meets INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE in this dark, queer fantasy novel about corrupted hearts and the fine line between hatred and obsession.  

My Review

Ocean's Blood is the first book in the dark fantasy romance series The Drowning, which also marks the debut novel of Thelma Mantey. A queer proposal that contains a great enemies-to-lovers relationship, exploring the limits between love and obsession; the fine line that separates between intense and toxic.

Vindt's life changes forever when the Singers appeared and overthrown his homeland; everything was lost to them. When it is revealed that he possesses the trait that allows the Singers to use his voice as a weapon, he's stripped of his freedom and bound by blood to a Singer, getting his life totally in control of them. However, a chain of events ends with him changing master and binding to the enigmatic and powerful Asche. A relationship of power that soon clashes because their egos are too similar.

But with the time, Vindt starts to feel a sort of attraction to this Singer he should hate with the power of all his soul; for reasons he cannot explain. Maybe it's the enigmatic quest Asche has for power; or compassion because Asche is fighting against the curse that afflicts all Singers after they pass a certain age, but it's impossible to negate. However, Asche is still the chain that keeps Vindt apart from freedom, and when Asche's enemies offer Vindt a way to recover it just by betraying him, Vindt is put between the wall and the rock. Mantey's portraits a complicated relationship, a slow-burn evolution in the classic enemies-to-lovers with touches of obsession and control.

Outside of excellent characters, Mantey has created a vast world, with several fantasy races and a mystery which propels part of the plot; the power of the Singers is interesting to see in use, and some of the scenes portraying it are really intense.
Pacing is slightly slow for my taste, but I think it would be appreciated for those that prefer more romance elements in their fantasy.

Ocean's Blood is a solid debut, a great M-M enemies-to-lovers romantasy which leaves the door open to a sequel that concludes with the Drowning series; excellent job by Thelma Mantey.

The Author/s

Thelma Mantey

Thelma Mantey

My homepage claims I’m an author of dark fantasy, but actually I’m an author of all kinds of things. I used to read a lot of fantasy when I was a teenager and young adult, but my writing career began with literary fiction, autobiographically inspired short-stories mostly. I did this for many years (some stories are published) until Harry Potter on TV steered me back to the right track, that’s to say: fantasy. Swords, drama, magic, blood—no idea how I could have missed out on this for so long!

While I was always (and still am) interested in the darker side of human nature, the heart of my stories is ambiguity. I can’t stand characters who are evil because they are evil. I believe in people with motives, in moral being a fickle thing, and beliefs a product of the arbitrary circumstances of our birth. Moral grayness shrouds my stories, thick like English autumn mist.

In all the drama and high stakes, I like subtlety, the dynamic between characters conveyed through quiet notes and undertones. This also holds true for humor. My humor has always been dry as the Mojave Desert and black as my morning coffee. I used to express it in (badly drawn) cartoons before I discovered that writing is an even better vessel to snub people.

I’ve lived in many countries, and had as many jobs; I speak five languages fluently. These days, my life is sadly dominated by my chronic disease (ME/CFS). It forced me to give up pretty much every hobby I had, and increasingly often even keeps me from writing. I live in Berlin.