Lesbians, sea monsters and badass pirates – The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie


  • my rating: 5 stars
  • published by: Flux
  • genres: fantasy, science fiction, lgbt+
  • diversity: Lesbian Chinese main character, white lesbian LI, black major side character
  • where to purchase: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads


For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

I have Elise over at @TheBookishActress to thank for this book. While it was on my tbr for ages, her enthusiasm about the book gave me the final push to read it and I’m SO GLAD I did.

The Abyss Surrounds Us is an exciting romance set in the backdrop of an interesting futuristic sci-fi world. I really think all of the elements of this story came together to create something unique and interesting. Plus, this book is a massive page-turner. I finished it in one day and you can too!

The world is the first element of this story that really gripped me. The world is a vivid and interesting mix of futuristic elements, and sci-fi. The genetically engineered sea monsters, who act as friends to their owners, were a fun addition. I almost want one of them as a pet.  Pirates are always a win with me, and I liked how their presence was built into the geography and history of the world.

The characters were a huge highlight for me. Each character was well developed and super easy to get attached to and invested in. I personally loved Cas as a main character so much. Each character goes through their own personal journeys, and I think their arcs were perfectly written. Their motivations and developments made sense, and I just loved every single character for who they were so much.

The romance between Cas and Swift was so well done. Enemies to lovers tropes can be difficult for me, because I find the power disparity and animosity uncomfortable if its not done well. I loved how this was addressed on text, and the dynamic the two love interests established. I think the romance was done so well, and of course I loved it even more because it was between two women.

I think what I loved most about this book though was how great the pacing was. At no point did I feel bored, this is a real page turner and I rushed through it because I was really invested in the plot and the situation that the main characters had found themselves in. Gripping fantasy/sci-fi is my absolute favourite so this was a huge huge win for me. Attempted murder, fighting and actual murder are some of my favourite things in books and hell yeah, The Abyss Surrounds Us had it all.

The action scenes added a lot to how much I loved this. They were so well written, from on-deck fights, to traitors getting thrown overboard, to huge sea battles, The Abyss Surrounds Us had it all. Everything was so well written you could practically see the destruction unfolding around you.

OVERALL, The Abyss Surrounds Us is one of the best books I’ve read this year. The world building, plot, characters, pacing and action were all honestly perfect. This book is way too underrated, it deserves way more attention.

If you’re looking for more sci-fi fantasy with a diverse main cast and you haven’t read TASU yet then please GO DO IT. Now, can someone kick my butt into gear and get me to read the sequel already.

6 thoughts on “Lesbians, sea monsters and badass pirates – The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

  1. I swear I keep putting this book on my birthday/christmas wishlist and my husband repreatedly doesn’t buy it for me. I guess I’ll have to buy it for myself. I’ve been hearing great things about it and your review has strengthened my interest.

    Liked by 1 person

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