by Marilena Mexi
Translated from the original Greek by George Maroudis

Antara is a compelling story that has more the feel of a fable or fairy tale than that of your average mer-novel. This aura does not mean that it isn’t as good as a regular novel; It is the feeling of a fable that makes Antara different and therefore enjoyable.

In the Greek language, Antara means, among other things, disturbance or turbulence which perfectly describes the situation on the large island of Aster. The name of the island  comes from the only kind of flowers that will grow there; Asters. Set in medieval times, Antara deals with the two peoples who inhabit the island: The humans who live on one side of the island where the aster flower takes on a dark red hue and the merfolk who live on the land and under the waters of the opposite side of the island. Both of the disparate populations had lived in both mutual respect and friendship for  years until the day when enormous waves swept the island causing a great loss of life amongst the human population. Since this disaster was caused by ocean waves, the humans assumed that the merfolk were behind it all and their friendship quickly turned into bitterness and hate.

As the story opens, the merfolk are ruled by Asteria and her grandfather, Azarus. It has been five years since the great disaster and their seer has foretold that it will return once more in a few weeks. The ruling council must decide how to warn the humans and avoid the great loss of life that will accompany the event. This will not be easy as there is great hatred amongst the humans for the merfolk and the humans have been carrying out a pogrom on them ever since the disaster. Simply walking in and advising the humans that they’d better seek higher ground is not an option. Amidst their deliberations, it is learned from the seer that there is a woman on the human side of the island who  has a deep affection for their king, Orestis,  and a great respect for the merfolk as well. Inasmuch as she sits on the royal council of Orestis, it is decided that perhaps he is wrongly influenced by his other advisors and this woman is able to see the goodness in the king. With the next iteration of the disaster less than a month away, it is decided that Asteria and a companion will travel incognito to the humans’ side of Aster and try to get close enough to Orestis to appeal to his better nature and warn him of what is to come. It won’t be easy and Asteria has not counted on one thing; Falling in love with Orestis.

The author, Marilena Mexi, is as good an artist as she is a story-teller and she has added a series of her works to illustrate the book. No matter how one may feel about the story, the illustrations are worth the price of the book. Those readers who use versions of Amazon’s Kindle that do not support colour would do well to install the company’s Cloud Reader on their PC or MAC so they may fully enjoy these wonderful drawings.

As good a read as Antara may be, the book suffers from its translation from the original Greek to English. While George Maroudis may have done a credible job in translating the story, it should have afterwards been turned over to an editor who is used to working with books in English. As it is, there are typos, dropped letters, dropped words and sentence structures that probably worked well in Greek but less so in English. It is usually my practice to lower my rating on books that are afflicted with an inordinate amount of errors in spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc. as all these sins detract from the pleasure of reading the story; No matter how good or intriguing that story may be. At the end of the day, the execution is just as important as the story itself.

That being said, I will give reducing Antara‘s rating a miss since it was written originally in Greek and the translation to English was done by a friend of the author rather than herself. Other works from other authors will not be as lucky in this regard.

Although I would not count Antara as Young Adult fiction, it is nonetheless YA friendly and could be recommended to older YA’s. While there is some violence in the story line, it is no worse than what is to be found in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Adults who can relate to the fantasy genre will enjoy this book just as much.  Antara is a book that is meant to be enjoyed by all who may read it.

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