Ondine Quartet Read-A-Long: Crest (Book 3)

OQReadALong Welcome to the Ondine Quartet Read-A-Long! Aeicha (assistant extraordinaire to those who haven’t met me yet!) here to guide you along during the event.

This is the perfect chance for you to re-discover the Ondine Quartet, read tidbits about each book from Emma Raveling, and engage and discuss with other readers.

Plus, you have the chance to win a really cool prize just for participating (see below for giveaway info)!

This is the final day of this awesome read-a-long and we are discussing Crest, the third book in the Ondine Quartet…


8709053478_666591a5a1_mIllusion. Power. Identity.
Tensions are reaching a fever pitch everywhere Kendra Irisavie turns.

Darkness settles over elementals as a new threat stirs suspicions of a betrayal from within. Details of recent events spread through Haverleau, prompting doubts over Irisavie leadership. The mysterious Selkie Kingdom finally opens its doors, but the gesture only fans the flames of division. And despite the perils involved, Kendra finds it difficult to ignore the demands of her heart.

As the body count rises, pressure also grows to shift the tides of war. The sondaleur is on the hunt, but tracking the Aquidae leader is the greatest challenge she’s ever faced. With the Shadow playing a deadly game of obsession and horror, Kendra’s best chance to win is to unravel a tangled web of deception spanning back to the origins of the elemental world.

Nothing is what it seems and the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her pursuit for answers becomes.

When the unthinkable happens, Kendra must decide if survival is worth the sacrifice.

Conflicting loyalties, fierce passions, and irrevocable choices ignite in the electrifying third installment of the Ondine Quartet.



Breaker_500Releases December 29, 2014

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As its title implies, Crest was a book in which many elements of the series came to a head. Based on the groundwork established in Whirl and Billow, the story ties together the threads introduced in the first two books and sets the stage for the finale.

Everything Kendra needs to face the Shadow comes to the forefront: her rise to political power, the issue of the Armicant and weapons design, the establishment of ondine combat training, and the assembling of allies.

In Whirl and Billow, Kendra’s journey was very much directed inward. Although she had to deal with the new environments of Lumiere Academy, Haverleau, and Lyondale, her life is still very contained. Much like any seventeen year old, high school and her hometown loom large for Kendra. They are her entire world.

In Crest, we see Kendra fully step into adulthood. In doing so, her world naturally expands and her journey begins to direct outward. Within the context of new settings, including New York and the Selkie Kingdom, she unearths a deeper understanding about the realities of the elemental world and the war through her interactions with other characters.

Through Renee and Catrin Bessette, Kendra not only sees a reflection of herself and how high the stakes are for her and Tristan, but also the way in which ondines remain caged. Despite their magic and political power, they are still bound by something they cannot control and as such, their lives are not fully their own.

Kendra sees the powerlessness and frustration of demillirs through the personal turmoils of Jeeves and Julian, through the disappearance of Gabe, and the broken, abusive relationship of Dylan and his father, Marquis Rosamund. Fatherhood is also examined through Jeeves, Ancelin, Marquis Rosamund, and of course, Kendra’s interactions with her own father in her dreams.

She witnesses the selkies struggle to face a possible future without war and what happens when a king stubbornly equates change to weakness.

With Lucas and Daniel, Kendra begins to understand the extraordinarily fragile position of humans and the true depth of their sacrifice in helping elementals. And through Helene and Dax, she observes the cost of war on youth and how loss robs them of a fundamental sense of security.

I’d known since my initial planning of the series that a good chunk of Crest would take place in the Selkie Kingdom and I had great fun writing it. But because I needed to bring together so many disparate elements, Crest was probably the most technically difficult book I’ve ever written.

There were also aesthetic considerations I wanted to explore. A lot of that can be seen through the mirroring and reflection motifs as well as the thematic layering employed throughout the story. The plot is one such example of. Like a nesting doll, the story was essentially a mystery contained within a mystery.

At the end of Crest, Kendra is set to embark on her final showdown with the Shadow. Breaker will pick up where book three left off. 🙂


Aeicha here again! As I’ve re-read these books, I’ve been comparing my initial thoughts, after my first read through, with my thoughts on each book now. The following first thoughts come directly from my review of Crest after I read it for the very first time!

The complex and rich history of the Ondines and Selkies and their enemies is explored and laid out even further and deeper in book three, and the social/cultural/political structures of this world continue to enthrall and fascinate.

When I first read Crest, I was so excited that a big chunk of the story takes place in the Selkie Kingdom, as this beautifully dangerous place is just so captivating. I’m still in complete awe of the Selkie Kingdom, but during my re-read, I paid less attention to its spellbinding physical beauty and more attention to how this Selkie world is run and how it is both alike and different from the ondine communities. I also focused a great deal more on the histories of the Shadow, Jourdain, and the Armicant explored in Crest, as they had such depth to the story and shed so much light on the bloody war being fought. And one aspect of the ondine world explored in Crest, that I don’t remember spending too much time thinking about during my first read, but that occupied my thoughts greatly during my re-read, is Renee choosing not to go through with a binding ceremony and being called back to the sea. There is something just so devastatingly heartbreaking, yet immensely powerful about her choice and how it affects Kendra.

Kendra especially has had so much thrown at her- being the sondaleur and the future Governor, being responsible for stopping the Shadow, and facing devastating losses

There are many deaths and losses (Marcella, Ewan, Sian, Renee, the Fredriksens, and more) in Crest *sobs* and, while they made me very sad during my first read, they affected me greatly during my re-read. I suppose after re-reading the series, I’ve come to care even more for these incredible characters and their deaths are hitting so much harder *sobs even louder*. Unlike my first read through, during my re-read I found myself all snotty crying over Ewan’s death at like midnight! Plus, I’ve come to understand just how much these deaths affect Kendra and the choices she makes.

I love both guys and they are each complete, layered characters on their own, but I’ve so enjoyed their interaction with Kendra since book one. I won’t spoil anything for ya, but I will say that in Crest Kendra is finally honest with herself and with the guys, and where her heart truly lies is revealed…

Romantically speaking, things, that I’m sure most of us have been waiting for, finally happen in Crest (hello cave scene!). I remember during my initial reading of Crest, just knowing that things between Kendra and Tristan were finally going to happen, so I think I paid less attention to the interaction between Kendra and Julian, both in NYC and in the Selkie Kingdom. But during my re-read, I paid more attention to the heartbreaking, profound, and revealing things finally said and realized by these two. Kendra is finally completely honest with both herself and the guys, and I think this helps make her romantic choices that more meaningful.


Favorite scenes:

    • the scene where Renee goes back to the sea and loses who she was: I mentioned above how this scene has stayed with me long after my re-read, and for good reason. It’s just such a breathtakingly painful, yet powerful moment and choice.


    • THE CAVE SCENE!!: Yeah, did ya really think this wouldn’t be one of my faves??


  • the last scene between Kendra and Tristan in the Selkie Kingdom: While the cave scene is hella hot, this scene, when they are finally honest with each other, is just so beautiful and makes my heart burst!

Favorite quotes:

    • ”It’s not a love triangle.” Helene hopped off the swing, camera once again focused on me. “A love triangle means someone’s caught between two choices. Seems like she already made her choice.” -Helene


    • After Eric, I thought this was all there was. A future of war and death. A life defined by duty and obligation. And then I met you.” He paused. “ You were a revelation.” -Tristan


  • I would’ve ravaged cities, cut through mountains, and torched the heavens to save him. He would’ve scoured the oceans, slashed through ten thousand Aquidae, and gone to the ends of the earth to find me. Always. -Kendra


    • What were your first thoughts the first time you read Crest? How have those thoughts changed?


    • What’s your fave scene and quote in Crest?


    • Which do you prefer: the Selkie Kingdom or Haverleau?


  • Whose death or loss hit you the hardest in Crest?


For further discussion, download a detailed list of discussion questions for Crest>>


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Check out the other Read-A-Long Discussion posts

Reader Q and A: Crest

Reader Question and AnswersFirst, a big thank you to Aeicha, Donna, and Mel for the awesome Crest reviews on their blogs. 🙂

You can read them here: Word Spelunking | Book Passion for Life

I’ve received several common reader questions about Crest and my answers are below.

WARNING: There are spoilers ahead. I highly recommend you avoid this post if you haven’t read Crest yet.


Q: Any release date on Breaker?

A: Other than to say it will be released sometime in 2014, I have no date yet. This is the epic finale. I’m really going to hold back on announcing any kind of date until I’m 100% sure it will be ready.

Q: Any release date on Ondine?

A: Not yet, though it’ll likely be some time near the end of November or December. I’m in the middle of planning another huge international move with my husband, so things are a bit crazy right now. But it will be out by the end of this year.

Q: So who’s the Shadow? A hint, a clue? Something? Anything? Please, please, please? Etc.

A: There are two things I will mention. First, Breaker starts exactly at the moment Crest ends so you’ll get your answer right at the beginning.

Second, the larger series arc and plot points were all planned before I began writing the first book. Clues and details are there from Whirl.

And that’s all I’ll say about that. 🙂

Q: Why did Julian do what he did?

A: This is a complicated question to answer. Like everyone, Julian is a result of his past experiences, his surroundings and education, and his choices.

He has always pushed the line, a trait our heroine deeply relates to. But Kendra has grown, whereas Julian has yet to find his way forward. In this case, he stepped too far. For Kendra, he crossed her line in the sand.

Can they resolve their friendship? Well, you’ll have to wait until Breaker to find out.

Q: Is Jourdain the Ondine from the poem at the beginning of Whirl?

A: Yes. Jourdain’s story is based on Whirl’s epigraph, the poem that partially inspired the series.

Q: Is Crest coming out in paperback soon? And will you be doing any signed copies/giveaways?

A: Yes. Paperback version is coming very soon. I’ll announce on the blog, website, Facebook, and Twitter when they’re available. I’ll also do some kind of giveaway once it’s released.

Q: Will you do a Tristan POV for scenes from Crest? Especially the cave scene?

A: I’m not sure yet. If you want to read it, let me know (message/comment/tweet/etc.). Depending on whether there’s enough interest, I’ll think about doing it, probably by tying it in with a separate event.

Any more questions? Feel free to ask them below. I’ll try to answer a few more before closing comments.

Thanks, everyone – I’ve loved reading your messages. I’m just thrilled and delighted you’re enjoying Crest. 🙂

Behind the Scenes: Crest

As promised, I wanted to share a few things that went into the writing of Crest. I’ve tried to avoid any major spoilers. But since this post discusses ideas and characters, there may be a few small ones.

Okay. You’ve been warned. 🙂




Five things from Crest:

  1. A little info on kahliev, the selkie word introduced in the book.

    I’ve lived in six countries across three continents and my main day job takes me to eight or nine countries a year. Since I constantly come into contact with different languages and cultures, my travels have an enormous influence on my work.

    This particular word was inspired by my own personal background. I was born in Japan (my family is still there) and raised in Hawaii (where my mother and brother live). The idea for this term came from two words – aloha (Hawaiian) and kizuna (Japanese).

    hibiscusLike kahliev, these words have multiple meanings based upon context. Aloha is a greeting that can mean both hello and goodbye. It implies a certain generosity of spirit, a feeling you find in the islands. It can also refer to how you treat someone. You show someone aloha when you treat them with love, affection, or compassion.

    Kizuna (絆) is one of my favorite Japanese words. Its basic definition is a bond, but not necessarily a romantic one. The word is often used to describe a shared experience. For example, students from the same graduating class can possess a kizuna. Teammates who survived a range of trials to achieve something have also forged a type of kizuna. And of course, fellow soldiers who fought together on the battlefield absolutely have it. The word means an irreplaceable connection, unique to a particular experience and time, that cannot be substituted by any other.

  2. Myrddin is a nod toward the wizard, Merlin, from the Arthurian legends.

  3. I originally conceived Helene as a child prodigy with an eidetic memory. The great gift of absolute recall would also be her tragic curse. She remembered everything and forgot nothing, including things that needed to be let go of.

    camcorderI scrapped that idea once the artistic nature of the Bessette family emerged. Like her actress mother and painter sister, I wrote Helene to be a character whose understanding of life was mirrored in her choice of art. Not only did it work better with the novel’s overall thematic construction, but I also thought her desperate desire to cling to remembrance gave her greater depth.

  4. Like every book in the series, I immersed myself in French poetry and delved into mythology while writing Crest.

    The Charles Baudelaire poem referenced in the scene with Julian (Chapter 3) is “L’Amour du mensonge” from Fleurs du Mal. I debated between Baudelaire’s “Le Voyage” and Stéphane Mallarmé’s “Brise Marine” for Crest’s epigraph before deciding upon Mallarmé. Both poems are about a voyage, but greatly differ in their approach.

    The Alder Branch bookstore is a reference to the “alder branch” in Aloysius Bertrand’s “Ondine” poem, which is the epigraph of Whirl and part of the inspiration behind the series.

  5. The Armicant was inspired by the French myth of Le Drac. It tells the story of a fearsome shapeshifting sea serpent who kidnapped a woman and took her underwater to raise his son.

Crest Release and A Few Thoughts

First Crest is out! Necessary links are at the bottom of the post.

A few thoughts.

Like most penultimate books in a series, Crest is a big one. I also explored several aesthetic ideas within it — stories within stories, mysteries within mysteries, past and future, all of it mirroring and reflecting off each other.

One of the things we learn as writers is that every book has its own flavor, a tone and coloring we have no control over. We spend so much time thinking, planning, developing, and working on our stories, but the end result is always something you didn’t quite expect. It’s the aspect of writing I find both irritating and fascinating. 🙂

Billow was very much about Kendra’s internal journey as she grapples with a rapidly shifting reality. In Crest we see Kendra move forward. It is the tipping point at which she steps out into the adult world and says, “Here I am.”

I’ve said from the beginning that the series gets progressively darker as it nears the conclusion and Crest is certainly no exception. A great deal must happen to prepare Kendra for the finale.

On the personal front, the writing process continues to surprise and humble me. This book was emotional for me in a far different way than the previous books in the series. Writing it has been an unexpected journey and I’m grateful for it.

I’ll answer reader questions in a post in the next week or so. If you have any questions, you can send them over. I’ll also take them on Facebook and Twitter sometime next week.

Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for reading.


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Crest release date

A quick announcement about Crest: Release date is now September 17th.

The book is 150,000 words – approximately 1.5 times the length of Billow. I’d hoped to finish edits by the 31st deadline, but it’s simply not possible.

I know some of you may be slightly disappointed, but I hope you can tough it out for another 17 days.

Thank you for understanding.

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