Through Waters Deep Book Review

Journeying through Sarah Sundin’s books is like a quaint trip back to yesteryear. Saying this may sound silly considering the novel’s WWII setting, but there’s a special kind of nostalgia.

We meet Mary Stirling, a girl with a kind heart who enjoys the shadows where no spotlight shines on her. Secretary at a Boston naval base, Mary’s work is never done. It’s in her work that she meets again with Jim Avery.

Jim knows Mary from high school, but he hasn’t seen her in years, which is why a reunion with her is the best surprise. As they work together to capture a saboteur, he comes to realize how special she is. But with men fighting a war that shadows their horizon, Jim and Mary’s friendship is soon tested…

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin | Book Review

Despite a slow beginning (the story doesn’t tug me in as quickly, strange since it wastes no time in putting the characters together), this novel is absolutely charming. It takes quite a step away from Sarah’s earlier works, surprising considering the time frame is the same. This one makes us of the “cozy mystery” genre, which is different than her Nightingale trilogy.

Ever since we said goodbye, I couldn’t wait to say hello. – Sarah Sundin

Shifting to the characters, I’ll say, Mary is quite the detective. The contrast of her character is sweet; she lives one way (to do good) without attention, but then lives vicariously through a Nancy Drew fixation. I really like her fascination with puzzles, and from all I hear about her, Mary’s character reminds me of my grandmother. Not in her mystery hunting, but in all she does behind the scenes. Her desire is to honor Christ, and she seeks no reward. Not to disregard Jim, he too is a noble, wonderful man. The shift in his reaction to Mary is wonderfully explored and it’s nice to get his perspective in the alternating POV’s.

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Much as I like the mystery angle, I think the concept trips over the many characters that pop into the prose as suspects. When reading, I do find it a challenge to keep track of who’s-who and who is or isn’t a legit suspect as the names continue to pile up. But that’s beside the point, and doesn’t hinder this delight of a novel. Comparisons by readers describe this as a Nancy Drew mystery, only this time, it’s set on the eve of WWII. From its brilliant historical facts that weave into the story to the charming potential romance we adore, this isn’t a novel historical fiction aficionados should miss.

Bold and soft, this is a “good time” kind of read; plus there’s lots of period cues avid historians will appreciate. Pick up Through Waters Deep and prepare to experience a scary, yet charming time in history where every moment counts. If this book reminds us of anything, it’s this message. You’ll swoon over dashing naval officers (plus some romantic “aww” gestures), and the subtle sass its heroine learns to embrace. All of this adds up to one thing. Through Waters Deep should be your “must read” list!

Through Waters Deep

About the Book:

Author: Sarah Sundin
Publisher: Revell Books
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere: Goodreads ǀ Novel Crossing ǀ WordPress
Add the Book: Goodreads
Series: Waves of Freedom, 1
Genre: Fiction; Historical, Inspirational
Rating: ★★★★½

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for review; all opinions are my own.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. I'm hoping to read this one sometime soon…I'm even more interested now that you've mentioned "cozy mystery," because I love those! :) So far I've only read Sarah Sundin's Wings of Glory trilogy, but I absolutely love those books. They're some of my favorite historical fiction. I have the first two books of the Wings of the Nightingale series but haven't read them yet. Great review!

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Kristin. I think you'll like this newbie from Sarah. It's a great start to her latest trilogy… and those mystery elements are some of my favorite parts of the book. Mary's such a cool character because of her sleuthing… and Jim, well, he's pretty special too. :) Happy reading!

    1. I most certainly did, Sarah. It was a beautiful story and I cannot wait to read book two! Thank you for writing such an entertaining and emotional novel. :)

  2. I love Sarah Sundin's books and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Through Waters Deep! The mystery aspect sounds neat; I like that Mary's a Nancy Drew fan. That's really fun. And the video of the cover shoot is super cool.

    1. Wasn't that cover shoot video really cute!? It's so fascinating to see the BTS aspect of cover design. Happy reading whenever you have a chance to read this one, Sereina. I thought it was a smashing read. :)

  3. I loved this book, though I do agree that it was hard to keep up with the list of suspects when it came to the mystery side of the story. I loved that it was a story of friendship that blossomed into love though!

    1. Ditto. The suspect list confused me a bit, but it very well may have simply been me! Perhaps I wasn't paying close enough attention at the time of the characters introduction. Either way, this was a wonderful story that, as you point out, features a wonderful romance. :)

  4. I read my sister Korin's copy of this book that she's planning on doing a review for soon. I'm always a huge fan of world war two stories and was really excited for this read, but it took me a little longer to get in to. I still really enjoyed it though. =)
    Thanks for reviewing!

    1. I'll have to read your sister's review, Kara. :) It's fun to see what everyone else comes away with or liked about a book, and I'm glad you enjoyed this one. Like you, I'm a fan of this era, so reading this one was high on my "must" list. It's a new favorite for sure. :)

  5. I LOVE your review of this book. You're right. It's quieter. And I loved how both Jim and Mary had to learn to be bold. I can't wait for the next in the series.

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Dawn. I had fun with this review, because it felt like this book was a departure from normal for Sarah… and I think that's amazing! Sometimes when an author is traditionally known for one genre, as a reader, we wonder what stories they can tell that are "new." Sarah accomplished that and then some with this beauty. :)

  6. Thanks for another brilliant review; I would definitely agree with you that the direction Sara is going with this new series is a refreshing change of pace, one I thoroughly enjoyed. Although shorter in length, and lighter/quieter tone than her previous books, it didn't feel rushed, my favourite scenes definitely the ones nearer the beginning and middle when Jim and Mary are getting to know each other, really for the first time. The conversations they had while going out on the town worked well I thought in laying a foundation for the progression of their relationship, not to mention how adorable and precious those dance scenes were!

    The agonizing inner thoughts of both as they realized they were falling in love, but didn't know how to transition from friends to more were also kind of hilarious, especially Jim's attempts to be more 'sophisticated'. The individual personal struggles they both faced with the need to be bolder really struck a strong chord with me personally as well, something which always elevates a book in my opinion.

    While her assumptions made for a bit of an annoying hindrance to Mary and Jim's romance, I quite enjoyed our introduction to Quintessa, who seems to be destined for Jim's brother Dan in the last book of the series. I also must confess to having already fallen half in love with Arch; his friendship with Jim was gold, and I can't wait to see what Sara's got in store for him and Lillian!

    God Bless
    Eleanor Rose

    1. Hi, Eleanor! Thank you for reading. I so appreciate it and for sharing your fabulous thoughts on this series.

      Jim and Mary are one of my newer more favorite literary couples. Their quiet courtship and blossoming FRIENDSHIP (which I love) was written and paced to perfection. The fact that this was a quieter more conversational story made it all the sweeter – and like you, those dance scenes were aww inducing. :)

      I 100% agree with all you say, and in fact in reading through your comment, I'm reminded how very much I'd enjoy a re-read of this novel. Coupled with the setting (an era I've grown to love in books/film), the characters do make this novel sparkle. Summer 2016 seems too far away for book two methinks! :)

      As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Glad to read through them. :)

  7. I always love reading a new Sarah Sundin novel. Her books are always on my to buy list. This cover just gets me every time. I just want to stare at the beauty of it. Sarah has been very fortunate to have beautiful book covers.

    I really enjoyed this book, but hope she doesn't start making all her books with a suspense thread. If I choose to read a suspense book I want the whole book to be focused on that. I do agree about wondering if there can be anything new when an author only writes in one short, focused period of history. In that aspect, I liked how this book was mostly state-side. That makes it different from the previous series.

    1. Hi, Sylvia! My sincere apologies for the delay in replying to this comment. For some reason, your thorough comment escaped my notice.

      Sarah's covers are always beautiful. I love what Revell has done with this series in particular.

      I've not read all of Sarah's novels, so I wasn't aware her other books where's state side. Good to know. :) I liked the "cozy mystery" aspect of Through Waters Deep. It was "just enough" to make me curious without making me question this being rooted in its historical genre. :)

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