by S.K. Munt

We all have fond and not-so-fond memories of adolescence and those summer crushes: The girl at your dad’s Army reunion. The boy who visited his grandparents next door to you.  They were there every year and things developed from a simple ‘like’ to something you dreamed about from the moment autumn breezes began to blow until the time when school was out and the summer really began. You saw them every summer until you didn’t and wondered where they were and what had happened to keep them away. Most of us got over those crushes and relegated them to the fond memories box in the back of our minds.

For some of us though, the emotional wound failed to heal when school started up again and festered inside of us for years afterward. The long needed healing would only come when we finally saw them again ten or fifteen years later and discovered that the perfect person from summers long ago suddenly had a beer-belly, six screaming kids, copious tattoos or all of the above. Reality can be a bite but it can also be a great curative.

Sometimes though, reality can only make things worse. Lincoln Grey is one such victim. He has carried a torch all this time for his long-lost summer love and the years have not been kind to him. Although he’s only twenty-eight, he appears to be in his forties. Hard work and the sense of loss that just won’t go away have sapped his joie de vivre and aged him beyond his years. He is the reality that his summer crush will see when she returns to the resort where they met so many years ago. She seems to have not aged a day and yet so much has taken place in the interval. Even so, that long-forgotten lamp in the dark reaches of her heart is still lit and soon makes its presence known.

Her name is Ivyanne – this reviewer so wishes that he had a daughter to bestow this moniker upon – and her life of privilege is very complicated. She is pursued by three suitors amongst who she must choose a mate within the relatively near future. She has already been promised twice before and in each case, the intended lost his life. Suddenly, Lincoln is a dark-horse fourth candidate for a match that can never take place for you see, Ivyanne is a princess and . . . a mermaid. And so begins a tale of emotional conflict, lies, deceit, forbidden love and broken hearts. The happy ending almost seems to be an endangered species.

Ivyanne is shocked both to discover her long-lost love at the resort and to see the physical and emotional state that he is in. She wants Lincoln to be able to move on with his life and find whatever his destiny may be. It won’t include her but she wants him to be happy so she herself can move on as well. After all, she is responsible – at least indirectly – for his present condition.

Ivyanne landed her job at the resort solely upon the recommendation of some of the other merfolk who work there. One such person is the lady who runs the spa. Ivyanne asks/commands – she is a princess after all – that Lincoln be given a bit of the spa treatment usually reserved for other merfolk with the reasoning that if some of the decade’s worth of physical damage is erased, he will feel better about himself and will be more attractive to human females.
If he feels better, then she will feel better about what has happened.

Or so she thinks. The best laid plans oft go astray and this one will be a prime example. Lincoln has his afternoon at the spa and subsequently attends the staff beach party later that evening. Everyone is shocked and amazed . . . most of all, Ivyanne . . . to see the difference that a single afternoon has wrought on Lincoln. In that pivotal moment, she discovers that her feelings for him are deeper and more alive than she thought. One of her three suitors notices this as well.

And what was the deal with the human? Ardhi hadn’t been close enough to hear them conversing, but he’d seen Ivyanne’s face alight with animation-seen her knock back a full drink in one gulp the moment the tall man had loped away. She’d then turned to the ocean, and rested her hand against her heart with a ridiculously moved smile on her face. A smile Ardhi had never seen before. A smile no human should be capable of gleaning from their princess.

S.K. Munt has penned a smart, compelling and emotionally wrenching story that is difficult to put aside. It is book one in her Fairytail trilogy and is an impressive debut. The Marked Ones is a fish in a very small pool of adult – with a little ‘a’ – mermaid/man fantasy novels. The recent upwelling of mer-fiction has been mostly limited to the Young Adult market. While so much of that sub-genre contains well-written tales of sub-aquatic teen angst, there are those of us who long to read a good story of sub-aquatic adult angst now and then.

The Marked Ones differs from the all too common adult story where a so-so plot is used to tie together a series of hot sex scenes. Throw in the aquatic angle and you have a tale of tails and titillation. This is not to say that there is nothing steamy about Ms Munt’s novel. There is one scene covering two chapters that is guaranteed to curl your tail-fin but that is the only one requiring a cold shower. Without a doubt, The Marked Ones is probably unsuitable for all but the very upper end of the YA range. Nonetheless, there are some of those who will discover it just as this reviewer discovered Herman Wouk’s Marjorie Morningstar in the 11th grade. Unless they have led sheltered lives, readers in the awkwardly named “New Adult” category will be able to relate to the story along with the general adult population.

The Marked Ones is a good . . . really, really good . . . read. By all means, buy a copy of this novel and read it for the mer-folk, read it for the drama, read it for the heartbreak and read it for the unexpected ending. In all respects, the story is a memorable and well told tale. This reviewer is left the feeling that this novel is merely a knock-up and there are greater things to come from S.K. Munt. She is an up and coming author that fans of this genre would do well to keep an eye on.

There are two more installments in this series and this reviewer is eagerly awaiting their release. Once you have read The Marked Ones, you will too.

My Rating:

Buy Your Own Copy of The Marked Ones
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One Response to Review: The Marked Ones

  • Howard says:

    Those who have read this review earlier will notice some differences from the original. While Dr. Data does make minor corrections to his published reviews, this is the first time he has made a significant revision.

    It seems that Ms Munt inadvertantly uploaded a version of her book that had not yet been proof-read and corrected. It was this not-yet-ready-for-prime-time version that Dr. Data read for his review and took Ms Munt to task over.

    Dr. Data is the king – or at least crown prince – of cock-ups and is the first to admit that things don’t always go as planned. Moreover, he tries to be fair and he does not want Ms Munt – or any author – to have the praise that is rightly due them dimmed by a review based upon a version not intended for publication.

    Therefore, his review of S.K. Munt’s The Marked Ones has been revised and her story has received a well deserved extra pipe.

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