The award-winning author teams up with Disney to deliver a book seemingly tailor-made for commercial success.
Imagine an undersea world populated by mers of every type: Blond, blue-tailed seafolk exist, but the variety described goes far behind that stereotype; some are crab-legged or stranger. It’s a complex world, created magically as Atlantis fell. Now, the evil behind the fall threatens again, and this time it’s teamed up with a terragogg (human) bent on destroying ecosystems. Six mermaids have been summoned in dreams to save a world suddenly under attack. Exposition-heavy descriptions of a sometimes-nonsensical society (dresses and other human accoutrements that can’t possibly enhance undersea life are described in downright cinematic detail, and mer-derived slang—for example, “merlfriend”—comes across as forced) dominate the beginning. They eventually give way to a plot-driven tale of prophesied saviors getting to know each other and preparing for an epic battle (and several more volumes). The merls have little to no personality (protagonist Serafina somewhat excepted), but then, this book is aimed at upper-preteen/early-teen readers who might enjoy finding themselves in the text. The diversity of the cast (white, black, Asian and Indian are all represented among the chosen) deserves some props.
Readers who put aside the sense that they are being primed for products and just imagine the movie it ought to be may find it palatable enough. (Fantasy. 11-14)