The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill

Published: November 17, 2020

Publisher: Berkley Books

Series: Captain Kit Brightling #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 368 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Chloe Neill brings her trademark wit and wild sense of adventure to a stunning seafaring fantasy starring a dauntless heroine in a world of magic and treachery.

Kit Brightling, rescued as a foundling and raised in a home for talented girls, has worked hard to rise through the ranks of the Isles’ Crown Command and become one of the few female captains in Queen Charlotte’s fleet. Her ship is small, but she’s fast–in part because of Kit’s magical affinity to the sea. But the waters become perilous when the queen sends Kit on a special mission with a partner she never asked for.

Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, may be a veteran of the Continental war, but Kit doesn’t know him or his motives–and she’s dealt with one too many members of the Beau Monde. But Kit has her orders, and the queen has commanded they journey to a dangerous pirate quay and rescue a spy who’s been gathering intelligence on the exiled emperor of Gallia.

Kit can lead her ship and clever crew on her own, but with the fate of queen and country at stake, Kit and Rian must learn to trust each other, or else the Isles will fall….

Once again, what’s up with all the sea captain/naval/pirate themed fantasy books lately? I am definitely not complaining because it turns out I adore this strangely prevalent sub-genre, but it’s kind of odd! The Bright and Breaking Sea is another book I’m sad I waited so long to read because it definitely deserved release-day hype. It was so good and so charming!

Kit Brightling has become a successful ship’s captain in Her Royal Majesty’s navy, though most think she’s nothing more than a courier. Kit is in fact vitally important and does special missions on behalf of the queen, ofttimes involving espionage. When a spy must be recovered from enemy hands, Kit is paired with Rian Grant, the Viscount Queenscliffe. They don’t take an immediate liking to one another but over the course of the book they find they have a great deal of respect for one another and perhaps even a bit more. Yes, there is a well executed and delightful budding relationship in this book too! Don’t let that spook you if you’re not a romance fan – it’s not a big part of the story. 

Kit Brightling is such an awesome main character!! I just loved her! She was adopted at a young age and has a number of adoptive sisters at the Brightling house, all of whom are quite different. One makes pocket sized explosives for Kit to take on missions and another has her eyes set on marrying a nobleman, while others are still but young girls. Rian Grant is an admirable (if sometimes prickly) former soldier who recently inherited his family estate and the burden of their debt. He’s handsome of course, but most importantly he actually learns to respect a female ship captain in her domain. 

The setting is heavily inspired by the Napoleonic Wars and the ‘bad guy’ has been exiled to his remote island but is recruiting sympathizers to make a comeback. I love alt-historical fantasy and this was a compelling tale. Gerard Rousseau (our Napoleonic bad guy) has people manipulating the magical currents to further his own designs. Kit, Rian, and crew must stop him before he can disrupt the magic further and cause untold devastation.

The Bright and Breaking Sea was a fine adventure, with the perfect amount of romance, action, and intrigue. I will most definitely be continuing on with this series (with much enthusiasm!) and I have a new author to add to my potential favorites list.

2 thoughts on “The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill

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