by Derrolyn Anderson

Starting to read the last book in a series is not unlike starting your Senior year at university; You want to dive in and enjoy it for all that its worth while at the same time you don’t want to start because when it’s over, it’s over and things will never be quite the same again. Thus were my feelings when the final book in the Marina’s Tales series, The Turning Tides, was published. I put off reading the book for what seemed to be forever and then dawdled my way along finding any excuse to only read one chapter at a sitting.

I am going to break my rule about spoilers and include a few wee bits about the end so if you don’t want to know, now is the time to bail.

Marina has been in Aptos, CA for just over a year now and is starting classes as a freshman at the local university. She has a fiancé, Ethan, an extended family and a Nobel Prize recipient for a father who is working in Afghanistan. She also has ongoing troubles with those who would exploit both her and her sisters in their quest for immortality. Aunt Evie has laid on more security and there appears to be a strange research project connected with the university going on almost in her back yard.

The trouble begins when Marina’s father is severely injured in an Afghan land-mine explosion and her enemies seek to drive a wedge been her and Ethan. To make matters worse, Marina is being followed . . . again.

The wedge comes in the form of Ethan’s mother who abandoned him and his father years ago and now suddenly wants to reconnect with her little boy. Needless to say, “Mom” doesn’t like her and tells Ethan that she’s just a spoiled rich girl. For the record, Marina’s character is probably the most unspoiled rich girl I’ve ever run across in fiction.

Marina does have at least one flaw; she finds fault with her fiancé’s behaviour but fails to recognise a similar flaw within herself. Ethan’s mother is pounding on that wedge for all she’s worth and he is torn between the loyalty he feels is due his mother and the love and loyalty he has for Marina. If nothing else, Ethan is a gentleman of the first rank.

This conflict makes Ethan really need Marina as he feels that the two of them are being torn apart and it is this needy-ness that bugs Marina. She fails to realise that she is just as needy in her own way because Ethan is the one thing that allows her to resist the irresistible call of the sea and a life sans legs. Things get dicey when Marina breaks into the lab housing that research project and it begins to look like she’ll never see him again.

Marina’s capture sets the stage for a heroic rescue led by Ethan. Her fiancé is the kind of guy who would throw himself on a live grenade in order to protect Marina so you just know that any rescue attempt he participates in is going to be heroic.

A curious thing happens here. Marina has been forced into a saltwater tank so she will undergo the painful process – one that seems to become more painful each time – of transformation to her form as a mermaid. She is in this state when Ethan arrives with the cavalry and Marina is both ashamed and embarrassed for her to be seen for what she is. Marina has vowed to protect her sisters in the sea if it’s the last thing she ever does and it seems incongruous that she would feel shame at being identified as one of them. Despite all the conversation between Marina and Ethan through the remainder of the story, they never seem to talk this one out. No doubt, Ethan would’ve told Marina that she looked absolutely beautiful.

And so the saga concludes. Marina’s sisters are safe for the moment and her feet are planted firmly on dry land as she embarques on her future with Ethan.

Characters in fiction are often the poor player who struts and frets their hour upon the page and are heard from no more. Derrolyn Anderson has created some very memorable characters throughout this series – especially in Marina and Ethan – and this reviewer is inclined to wish that Ms Anderson would write a “Where Are They Now” short story to catch us up. Marina wants her wedding with Ethan to take place on the beach. Do her sisters watch the ceremony from their aquatic vantage point? Does Marina ever regret her decision? Does she ever trade her legs for a tail again? How many children do they have? Is the first one a girl and does she have any unusual tendencies? What happens in their careers? So may things to wonder about.

Derrolyn Anderson has created a wonderful series of books that are well worth reading and I heartily recommend them to anyone, male or female, who is interested in the lore of mermaids. Ms Anderson more than deserves an award from the Santa Cruz tourist bureau as a visit to Aptos is now on my bucket list and most certainly on the lists of numerous fans of the series.

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