Encounters with dragons, merfolk, and sea life modern, mythical and prehistoric await magic seeker Ven as he ventures into the depths with his fish-tailed friend, Amariel.
Initially just a quick flight from the evil Thief Queen, the junket becomes both odyssey and quest as Ven acquires more companions and magic talismans and plunges through adventure after adventure. He watches a festive hippocampus race, repeatedly escapes being eaten by giant sharks and, in a special diving bell that takes him into the ocean’s abyss, goes in search of the fabled tree of elemental water. This oceanic stage is decidedly cramped, as unassisted swimmers can evidently span much of it in a few days. The narrative also features maladroit lines (“The vast majority of the sea is beyond the Twilight Realm”) and an overreliance on sentence fragments, particularly at the ends of chapters. The narration switches throughout between standard third-person and first-person, present-tense. Passages in the latter are printed in a different typeface and supposedly quote bits of Ven’s journal, but the conceit only lends the tale a disjointed feel.
A bottom feeder: mannered of prose, patchwork of plot, built on artifice and coincidence. (Fantasy.11-13)