by Amber Garr

Betrayal is the second book in Ms Garr’s Syrenka Series and picks up the story a few weeks after the end of Promises. Eviana Dumahl originally had two things in her future, neither of which she wanted: Leadership of her Clan and an arranged marriage with Kain Matthews who was the future leader of his own clan. Instead, Eviana only had eyes for Brendan, a selkie several years older than herself and the last person that her mother wanted her to be with – for more than one reason. On the evening before her scheduled marriage to Kain, Eviana and Brendan left for the East Coast and their one chance to be with each other.

Now, Eviana has to deal with one of the things she least wanted; She is now the leader of her Clan. Her parents are dead; Killed by her real father in his quest to use the merfolk’s special powers to dominate the lesser species of this planet. Notable amongst the potential dominees  are Selkies and Humans.

The story opens at home on the Oregon coast with the Dumahl clan licking its wounds and bracing themselves for future onslaughts from Eviana’s father, Lucian. Brendan is staying away for the time being and Kain is a frequent visitor at the house. Though her heart still belongs to Brendan, Eviana gets a somewhat giddy feeling whenever Kain pays her a compliment or simply pays her a bit of attention. In this respect, not much has changed since they were still promised to each other but the dynamic is going to change considerably when she meets a member of the merfolk’s ruling council, Graham Forrester.

Amber Garr has kept up the pace and dramatic tension in this second book of the Syrenka series. In the first book, Promises, things were a bit murky as the characters – and the reader – were trying to ascertain just what was going on. In Betrayed, the plot and the action is naturally much more straightforward as everyone seemingly knows the nature of the threat and whom is behind it. This does not mean that there are no twists, turns and surprises in the story’s action because there are indeed a good many of them.

Perhaps it is appropriate to mention here that Ms. Garr has done two things that this reviewer has seldom seen in this particular sub-genre of Young Adult Fiction. The first is that the mermaids seem not to suffer from body shame and will swim in their natural state as Poseidon intended. This reviewer has yet to meet a mermaid in the wild who wears a bikini top – or much else for that matter.

The second is that Amber Garr has a unique solution for the problem of breathing under water. So just how do mermaids and mermen respire beneath the surface? Do they have gills, absorb oxygen through their skin, simply breath water or what? The presence of gills seems to be the most common solution though that presents its own problems as the single slit envisioned by many authors is much less than what is necessary to power homo piscis. A second popular solution is to simply have them breath water through their lungs. This approach has a basic shortcoming in that a lung-full of water is much heavier than a lung-full of air not to mention all of the microscopic nutrients and life that is found in sea-water. Ms Garr solves the problem in her world by giving merfolk much more efficient lungs and the ability to stay under water a good deal longer than humans can. This vision definitely has some merit as harbour seals can easily stay down for 30 min. and often head for the bottom in order to take a nap.

Amber Garr has written an exciting and compelling follow-up to the first book in her series and it is well worth reading if you like the idea of merfolk. As it was in the first book, Promises, the Kindle version of Betrayal suffers from a want of proof-reading. This reviewer will not enumerate the grammatical and syntactical shortcomings of the Kindle edition. However, he will say that because of these shortcomings, the Kindle edition is not quite as good a read as it could be.

Nonetheless, Betrayal is an absorbing and irresistible story which leaves the reader wondering what could possibly happen next. The final chapter answers that question quite well.

My Rating:

Amber Garr’s website may be found at

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