When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. Read more...
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When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin's arrow poisons Sera's mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.
- ISBN-13: 9781423133162
- ISBN-10: 1423133161
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publish Date: May 2014
- Page Count: 352
- Reading Level: Ages 10-14
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-03-10
- Reviewer: Staff
Donnelly (Revolution) opens the four-book Waterfire Saga with a richly imagined novel set in an undersea world of mermaids descended from the lost citizens of Atlantis. Serafina is heir to the Mediterranean realm of Miromara, but just as she is about to be recognized as its future ruler in the high-pressure Dokimí ceremony, a devastating attack throws her life into flux. Led by cryptic dreams they share, Serafina and fellow princess Neela try to evade the conquering forces while seeking four other powerful young mermaids. Donnelly blends references to ancient myth and human language (especially Latin), with a mermaid culture that has its own magic, lore, and slang (“currensea,” “merlfriend”) that may strike some readers as too cutesy. Themes of conquering fear and believing in oneself are woven throughout, along with an acknowledgment of humans’ environmental impact on the sea and its inhabitants. Despite the high stakes and a few frightening moments, the story is never overserious; it’s just right for readers who have grown up with, but aged out of, The Little Mermaid and the Disney Fairies franchise. Ages 10–14. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)
Under the Mediterranean Sea, a new series begins
Mermaid princess Serafina is nervous. Today’s the day she’ll prove herself a true descendant of her famous ancestor Merrow in the royal family’s traditional Dokimí ceremony. She’ll demonstrate her worthiness to rule through “songcasting” a complex musical spell, and the day will end with her formal betrothal to the handsome but rebellious crown prince Mahdi.
But when a surprise attack interrupts the ceremony, Serafina and her friend Neela must flee the kingdom of Miromara and swim for their lives into unknown waters. Using both magic and their wits to escape their pursuers, they encounter a variety of fantastical sea creatures—some allies and some enemies. They also learn of political plots and secret alliances, and most importantly, they discover that they, along with four other teenage mer, are destined to find a series of hidden talismans to save the world’s oceans from an ancient monster.
Like many tales set in imaginary landscapes, Deep Blue is full of invented words. Author Jennifer Donnelly’s twist is to openly acknowledge the various languages from which these terms derive, especially Latin and Greek (for example, a velo spell confers speed, and a canta magus is a powerful singer). Puns and ocean-based details abound: Teens sneak out at night to go shoaling, and trade initiatives involve the exchange of “currensea.” The action is well paced, and many chapters end with cliffhangers that draw readers further into the story.
The first book in a planned quartet, Deep Blue combines fantasy adventure, court intrigue and even a touch of teenage sarcasm in an accessible, fast-moving narrative that will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Waterfire Saga.
Jill Ratzan reviews for School Library Journal and works as a school librarian at a small independent school in New Jersey. She learned most of what she knows about YA literature from her terrific graduate students.