Released: June 28th 2012
Source: Review copy from author
Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.I have a feeling that this series might soon be one of my favourites.
Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand_and find out where she belongs—Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart... and her very soul.
The premise seems simple enough – loner girl goes on school trip to beach, swims in ocean, gets kidnapped by a merman and taken to a mer-kingdom. No, she doesn't get turned into a mermaid, nor does she have any trace of mer swimming around in her veins. I mean, it's become sort of the norm for protagonists in mermaid novels nowadays to sprout a pair of fins themselves, or maybe find out that their great-great-great-great grandmother was a mermaid queen or something. Not in the case of Florence. The only mermaid novel I've read that doesn't adhere to this is The Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson, and now Florence has successfully broken the cliché as well — a fin-tastic change, if you ask me!
|Props to you, Mr Cho.|
... The glow from the corals didn’t just reflect off the animals—it washed over them in bright, honeyed splashes. I held out my hands and opal watercolor pooled in my palms.
The undersea world is also populated with deep sea monsters. The Borgamont is pretty creepy, resembling a giant, greenish-black hand trawling across the seabed. Vessels and Riders seem like winged skeletal centaur-narwhals straight out of a fantasy RPG game, and then there are the lampreys. Don't get me started on the lampreys. *shudders*
Florence, our main character, isn't a makeup or perfume kind of girl. She gets ignored by the rest of her peers and can't fit in. She's an observer who loves to be left in her own world and doesn't have much confidence. While this was relatable at first, her character stayed rather stagnant until she started questioning herself – which is strange, seeing how the novel is set in her POV. There's eventually a gradual shift in her personality, but still not as much as I would have liked.
Then there's Rolan and Kiren, the two mer-princes. One seems like your typical moody, brooding, almost-bad (mer)boy, and the other is charismatic and outgoing (and very much attracted to Florence). Truly, two very contrasting personalities. Florence soon finds herself embroiled in an inevitable clash of mer-politics between the two brothers, and as she spends time with each mer-prince, she discovers that things are never what they seem.
(Florence:) “I think you like order more than anything else. And that’s why you keep pushing me away—because having me in your world creates more chaos than you can handle.”
Rolan was silent, perfectly still, and I braced myself for an eruption...
“Is that what you really think?” he asked calmly.
A guarded expression passed over him, throwing my observations off-balance... a current pushed in our direction and I started to tumble backward. Rolan reached out and grabbed my hand. Warmth pulsed through me. “Nothing is truly what it seems on the outside,” he whispered before he let me go.Ooh. Food for thought.
Florence doesn't boast an extensive cast of secondary characters, though I would have liked to know more about characters like King Iriego, Serillico and Lenaya. I particularly love bubbly Yolee (and how her name sounds like)!
While it didn't grab my attention right from the start, Florence slowly wormed its way into my heart. This novel is driven by the theme of fitting in and finding a place in this world – something which Florence struggles with. In Niemela, she soon finds out that she's not the only one trying to find her identity and a place to belong to. I think that Cho has done a wonderful job of showing that even though some of us may have felt this way at times, we're actually not alone on this journey towards self-discovery and most importantly, that there is always hope.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ciye Cho lives in Australia and works as a graphic designer. He writes YA novels in his free time--and his head is often lost in the clouds or some place far from reality...
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