A contemporary fairy-tale adventure with a strong environmental/spiritual slant.
Cynics, stay away from this story of a 14-year-old boy, Ashlyn Miller, who finds himself in telepathic communication with a "sea being." The being, a gorgeous, luminescent mermaid, has deduced that Ashlyn has positive energy and may be the key to saving her species, which is dying from pollutants infiltrating their deep-sea sanctuary--thanks to the greedy hand of mankind. Newcomer Marsh has drawn upon the most time-established fairy-tale backdrop--children who have lost their parents and are ripe for love and salvation--and proceeds to have a fine time building on it. The rangy cast includes a hearty dose of evil-doers: religious fundamentalists who don't like the idea of the Bible's strict word being keelhauled (the most dangerous of their lot refer to the sea beings as "vile infirmities"), the choicely tagged "marine acquisition specialists" (poachers by any other name, looking to cash in on the sea beings), and the unlikely, not-without-their-warts white knights, including an ex-Navy SEAL named Ace and ex-CIA ops Rip, Boomer, Marvin and their long-thought-dead father. Marsh has a tendency to quickly paint his characters in bold outline rather than letting them evolve organically, and there are times when a character appears to be serving as a foil for Marsh's bully pulpit: "He called himself a deist, believing that a supreme intelligence had engineered the molds for life, and then left the bare creation alone to unfold." But there is no denying that Marsh knows how to work a crescendo, keep a substantial cast in play, serve forth a righteous condemnation of greed and environmental degradation, and plumb for openness, curiosity and universal love--purely pleasant bedtime reading.
Plenty of corn in this story, but it pops, and it's fun to consume.