by Christine DePetrillo, Heather Rigney, Rachel E. Moniz, and Joseph Mazzenga

There’s an old saying – actually, there are a lot of old sayings – that goes “Good Things Come in Twos”. In the case of Dive: A Quartet of Merfolk Tales, the saying should be revised to read “Good Things Come in Fours”. Each of these tales is suitable for older YA’s as well as adults in search of an enjoyable read on the topic of Merfolk.

Christene DePetrillo leads off the quartet with DEEPER, a merman meets girl kind of story. Crystal Bawle – yes, that’s her real name – is a thity-year-old insomniac; she can’t seem to get a decent night’s sleep no matter what she tries. And, she seems to have tried just about everything: medication, meditation, exercise. Nothing works. And it’s all because of the same dream that has continued to play every night, like an obnoxious commercial, since she became a teenager. It’s a dream of being out in the ocean, surrounded by water, subsequently struck by lightning and then pulled down into the watery depths.

Crystal is working the front desk at the Breezes Resort in Bermuda, trying to stay awake, begging for sleep – real honest-to-goodness sleep. The resort is hosting a Marine Wellness Conference – no, it has nothing to do with health-care for Leather Necks – and one of the speakers arrives to check-in. Usually,  guests – male guests, anyway – are attracted to her perky partner,  Rionne, but Dr. Ray Taimen seems to be more interested in Crystal and she certainly finds him to be quite attractive. It’s only natural; he’s a merman from an undersea kingdom who has been out of water a bit too long.

Whilst we are on the subject of mermen, Rachel Moniz entertains the reader with UNFATHOMABLE, another tale where merman meets girl and in this instance, they subsequently rescue each other.  Theresa and her boyfriend, Daniel, are out on his powerboat for a day’s excursion off of Jamestown, Rhode Island. Daniel is drunk – again – and in his enthusiasm to race a guy on a jet-ski, Theresa’s on-again/off-again boyfriend  fails to see the tip of the rocks that lay just below the surface. The result is a shattered boat, a drowned Daniel  and Theresa left clinging to the shattered remains of the boat.

Her prospects aren’t looking very good at the moment. The Cost Guard choppers have repeatedly overlooked her, it’s dark now and the symptoms of hypothermia are starting to appear. Something brushes up against her legs in the water and Theresa is sure that it’s time to roll the credits as she becomes dinner for a Great White shark. The funny thing is that sharks don’t have hands and that’s what she feels moving up her legs. OK, it’s not a shark but it does look like hypothermia is going to take her first and it’s still time to roll the credits.

Whilst we are on the subject of sharks, Joseph Mazzenga surprises the reader with BLOODY DEPTHS. Maren and her partner Teddy are oceanographers tagging sharks in the Indian Ocean off the coast of South Africa on a twenty-foot skiff. Maren loves what she’s doing but chumming the waters on this day brings a different kind of shark – Pirates. These are not the  Captain Hook/Jack Sparrow type; they are the modern version that have infested the waters east of Africa in recent years. The predators dispose of Teddy straight away and with Seal Team 6 nowhere in sight, Maren is thrown overboard.

A common plot-line in mer-fiction is for the central character – usually female – to be rescued by merfolk and subsequently become like her saviors and take up residence beneath the waves. That is exactly what happens here with a radically different twist. Maren does not become the typical scales-below-the waist kind of mermaid and neither are those who rescue her. To reveal any more in this review would spoil the surprise.

These three stories are all good in their own way but this reviewer has saved the best for last. Heather Rigney – who also did the cover-art for this collection – serves up a spine-tingling thriller in MERMAIDS ARE NOT NICE. This is not a story about your typical perky blond mermaid going bad; the mermaid is bad to begin with and not particularly attractive, either. In Pawtuxtet Rhode Island, Evie McFagen is a mom with a drinking problem as well as the local funeral director. Even though she and her husband live above the funeral home, this is not a New England version of Six Feet Under. Instead of a redhead, Evie is a short, overweight dishwater blonde with a pronounced shortage of friends.

Evie tries to do at least one thing right by taking her eighteen-month-old daughter , Savannah, to the playground where she can play with rocks and mulch while mommy observes the other mothers – the ones who look down their collective noses at her. Watching who comes through the gate is a popular pass-time and if it’s male and reasonably good-looking, the other mothers will throw themselves in to something of a feeding frenzy. On this particular day, it is a woman with long brown hair, gray eyes and the build of a super model. In other words, she is everything the other mothers are not. There’ something not quite right about her; something that’s down right creepy like the heavy fog that rolls in after her. Things will get even creepier as the story progresses.

If the reader is looking for a reason to buy Dive, this reviewer has to say that MERMAIDS ARE NOT NICE is the best reason of all. Ms Rigney does an excellent job of setting the scene for this story that can only be called a thriller in the best sense of the word. This does not mean that the other authors are less able than she; each one tells their story in an engaging way with few – if any – flaws. However, Heather Rigney knocks the ball out of the park with her contribution and leaves this reviewer grasping for authors and styles to compare her with. Edgar Allan Poe is the only one that comes to mind. If she continues to bring her “A-Game” to future efforts, Heather has a promising literary future in front of her.

So, if you’re a fan of Mer-stories and you enjoy good writing – and there is plenty of that from each of the contributors – then make sure that you dive into Dive.

My Rating:

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Paperback Kindle

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Read a sample of DIVE; A Quatrtet of Merfolk Tales

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