This review does not contain spoilers.
Kaiyu Tana travels the Areas alone, on the run from his past and ceaselessly seeking a future that seems far beyond his reach: one in which he will no longer be cursed to see the unshiftable filth that covers everyone around him. In the tiny mountain town of Meizui, he hears of the Temple of Bright Waters that may help to purify him.
Kaiyu Tana warranted a brief mention in The Chosen Voice—a mention that only made me want to know more. Now we get to meet him and follow his journey of realisation that will lead to his future fame.
Under the Bright Water is a gripping and emotional read overall. This is a story of addiction, desperation, hopelessness, and redemption. Kaiyu is a multifaceted creation with more than one story to tell. To be honest, you could read Under the Bright Water before The Chosen Voice with no issues whatsoever. It may even provide a stronger opening to the story cycle as a whole.
As with The Chosen Voice, there were some unwieldy sentences that confused the action. They fit within the lyrical prose and read beautifully until I realised I had no idea what was going on. I doubt it has any hidden meaning but, strangely, this almost always seemed to happen when a lamb is present in the scene.
The hints about this world from The Chosen Voice are expanded upon, cementing the Areas as a world where advanced technology has been convincingly entwined with ancient beliefs. I can’t wait to see more of this unfold in future instalments of Treading Twisted Lines.
Under the Bright Water is enjoyable, with plenty of world-building and character engagement. The narrative only grew stronger as it progressed, drawing me completely into this story cycle. This is definitely something I’d recommend to anyone looking for a fast and riveting read.