Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.
Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.
This is a mermaid story. Consider yourself warned. I have yet to read a mermaid story that I actually really, really liked. I was hoping to like this as much because it comes backed by our lovely Wendy but I think this is one of the few times our tastes will diverge. I found the novel strong, likable but ultimately stereotypical of all others that exist. It didn’t give me anything new but it was an entertaining read.
The writing is strong and smooth. I liked the characterizations and I thought that Syrenka was one of the most intriguing mermaids I have come across so far. I wish the book had stuck with her and not Hester. The plot was well thought out and I liked the old Pastor and Linnie. Sam was also adorable. Why does Hester call her father Malcolm and not dad? This was never discussed but occurred enough times to become an issue with me.
The story moves between time and this was not done smoothly. The transitions often feel jarring and have the effect of jerking you out of the story and breaking whatever cadence you have built up so far. Hester treats her best friend and crush before the arrival of the ghost dude horribly. Very horribly. This does not make me warm to her. At all. Spoilers ahead, highlight to read. And okay, I don’t know why no one in the novel addressed this but Ezra, the ghostly love interest, kills a little girl in the novel. Yes, the circumstances were extenuating but the character shown in extenuating circumstances is what or how a person will be judged and Ezra is scum, worse than scum because he doesn’t seem to have any remorse for what he did.
And Hester does not ever sit down and go…so he killed Linnie who is just a little girl. Hmnm…. Maybe I ought to rethink my apparent fascination with this dude. But to make matters worse, Ezra probably does not even insta-love Hester but he loves the soul of the woman inside the Hester shell. Hmm. Yeah. To make matters even more worse, the villainess of this piece is an immortal being who apparently has no other motivation, is female and ugly and very one dimensional. She swoops in and becomes the bad guy so everyone else can be innocent in varying degrees of course. It didn’t work for me. If this was a reference to the sea witch, it really didn’t work me. I needed the villain to be developed more.
I couldn’t get into the contemporary portion of the romance, that is Hester and Ezra because I believe that Fama had created Syrenka and Ezra’s relationship strongly enough that I felt betrayed for Syrenka, if that makes sense. And um, considering that Hester is Syrenka’s descendent, you’ll understand why things become icky. Plus, it is not Hester that Ezra loves, it is Syrenka’s soul in Hester or whatever bit remains that attracts Ezra.
My last words? I wasn’t too enamored of this book. Not as much as I wanted to be anyway. However, don’t take my word for it! Wendy loved the novel and she has written a very eloquent review that I urge you to read. And then make up your mind after you have considered both reviews.