In this debut maritime fantasy, a young Greek woman discovers her true heritage in a seaside town in Oregon.
Andie Kailani, 18, assumes her mother, Olia, is dead when her car is found submerged in the sea. But a letter her mother left in their house in Greece suggests otherwise. To find her, Olia sends Andie on a treasure hunt to discover the last of “three fabled friends”: the books the Odyssey, Alexander the Great: History and Myth, and The Kingdoms, the last of which Andie lost during an earthquake. If she’s successful, the two will be reunited and Andie will unearth a secret about her family and herself. The clues lead her to the airport, where she meets the mysterious Tristan Alymere, a fellow treasure hunter. They both end up in Nostos, Oregon, “a small town where myths, legends, and traditions abounded.” She stays at the Morgan House with its owner, Marek Morgan, and his family; they could help or hinder her search. There, she learns about the legend of the island of Fins, which was lost in a war between the king of the meridians (mermaids) and the king of the sahs, who are part human, part moray eel. The two settings are lovely: Thessaloniki, Greece, with its network of underground Byzantine tunnels, and Nostos, with its coral-covered homes decorated with shells and pebbles from the beach. When myth and reality collide, Andie uncovers an unseen world of wonder with the ease of putting on a snorkel and mask and looking beneath the ocean’s surface for the first time. The mermaid lore is rich in detail, and Konnel’s text is peppered with unusual personifications of nature: “The sea faded into the distance, with its wrinkled forehead and bluish-green eyes, which I felt were watching me.” Surrounded by people who hold the answers to her quest, Andie finds that her challenge is often reduced to following directions and asking the right questions. But in the process, she experiences the excitement of self-discovery, a hint of romance, elements of peril, and an important life mission. The tale ends on an intriguing cliffhanger involving a fourth treasure and an important gift.
Reading this enchanting story is like touring a beautiful aquarium filled with captivating creatures, stunning scenery, and just enough danger to warrant keeping a close eye on the exit sign.