We’re back with Part II of our interview. We’ve been speaking with Robert W. Cabell, playwright and author, about his Mermaid Kingdom series. When we were setting up this interview with his publisher, Gazebo Books, Bob chimed in: “Now I can’t wait for my 20 questions,
or do I get 40 or maybe just 30?” Well, we gave him 32! Bob was a good sport about it and yesterday, we published the first 16 questions and today, we wrap up with the remaining 16.
When we took a break from the first part of our interview, we were discussing one of the main characters, Perl, who will be the focus of her own spin-off series in the coming months. Today, we’ll learn a bit more about her as well as some of the other characters in Robert Cabell’s stories. Let’s pick up where we left off in the interview.
On a personal note, I must commend you for all the time and love that you have dedicated to Care-Giving. My wife and I have spent the past 4 years looking after our elderly mothers and, therefore, we can understand the calling and the sacrifices one must make to do this sort of thing. Our best wishes go to you and your family.
Welcome to the second in our series of 20 Question interviews with authors of Young Adult Fiction here on The Parsons’ Rant. There has been a tremendous surge in recent years of fantasy novels aimed at Young Adults featuringand we are planning to take full advantage of this phenomenon We have a number of authors queued up waiting for their time in The Parsons’ Rant spotlight so if you know of an author of Young Adult Fiction who has written or is planning to write a book or a series in the “ ” sub-genre, please let me know.
Our guest today is the multi-talented author and playwright, Robert W. Cabell. According to his bio on Amazon.com, he ” . . . has spent three decades working in the New York entertainment industry with giants like Time Warner, HBO, Spelling International, Columbia Pictures, and the NY Post. He has written a book on humor with the legendary Joey Adams, and is the author of numerous musicals and plays that have been produced in New York and across the country, and have been translated for production in multiple languages. The NY Cast Albums of his musicals are available from the i-Tunes store. 2012 marked the publication debut of his Mermaid Kingdom series with Gazebo Books Publishing, featuring the novel All the Mermaids in the Sea, part one of a trilogy, and also the publication of his play, The Divine Trilogy of Sarah Bernhardt.” So, let’s welcome Bob Cabell to The Parsons’ Rant.
Hi Howard and thanks for taking interest in All The Mermaids In The Sea and the up-coming spin-off’s and sequels to the book. Until my publisher at Gazebo Books discovered your review, we had no idea there was such a developed community out there surrounding. I just got back from a trip to Hawaii where I flew in helicopters, snorkeled, sailed in submarines and swam with dolphins, so I feel all Mer‘d up and ready for this interview.
|How did you get started as an author?|
|Hmmmm, well I have been making up my own little stories and been writing songs, plays, poems since I was a little kid. I was singing my own songs in professional productions by the time I was twelve, (but I was six feet and shaving at twelve) so it has been a life-long occupation and obsession.|
|Your stories are directed to a wide range of ages and levels of maturity. Why did you take this approach?|
|I never have been able to fit specific molds. My work is always “out-side the box” in one way, and yet not too far from reality in another. I love mixing lots of facts and history throughout my books which is part of the attraction it has to older audiences. I also never lost my sense of childish wonder and exuberance for new things and I write with a great deal of humor, which appeals to younger people. I am also a hopeless romantic, which appeals to teens and young adults, but I do not write erotica nor read it, so it makes all my stuff more general in “rating” and that tends to keep the story all over the place as far as its appeal to age groups.|
|There’s been a surge in young people’s fantasy novels in recent years and a wave of these stories deal with. Any thoughts about this?|
|The recent surge in mermaid or Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid and the Disney spin-offs basically defined and filled that genre, which is part of why I “spoof” or refer to them so much in my book. I actually have to buy and read a lot of the other books to see what is out there, but I also don’t want to be influenced by others until I have launched all four series of my own, to keep them fresh and unique. was actually a surprise to me. I wrote All The Mermaids In The Sea seven years ago. I have had several other projects, books and plays in production and publication before this book, and I was just waiting for it to come up to the top of my list. Seven years ago there was little or no mermaid books out there to my knowledge.|
|What led you to write All The Mermaids In The Sea?|
|About 10 years ago one of my nieces went to Dolphin Quest in Hawaii, and I saw a picture of her in the water kissing a dolphin. One day a year or two later I was looking at that picture after I had seen The Princess Diaries with Ann Hathaway and Julie Andrews, and the whole idea just popped into my head.|
|You have since released the second book, A Mermaid Christmas. In what way does this compliment the foundation story, “All The Mermaids”?|
|The character of Miranda, the daughter of the Helmi, or the original “Little Mermaid” is immortal like her mother, and is several hundred years old in All The Mermaids In The Sea when she finally meets her one true love. A Mermaid Christmas is just the first volume in a new series The Magical Adventures Of Princess Miranda – which will be a series of books that chronicle here early life and adventures.|
|Let’s talk about All The Mermaids This is quite an epic isn’t it?|
|The original Little Mermaid was one of my favorite books and stories since I was a little kid. I remember seeing a production of it on TV when a grown up Shirley Temple, had her TV show (Shirley Temple Theatre (TV Series 1958–1961) – IMDb) she did amazing production (for that time) of The Little Mermaid and it brought the book to life for me in a way that I as a 4 or 5-year-old kid had never expected. So I have always wanted to write more about that story, and in All The Mermaids In The Sea, I did.|
|You seem to draw on Norse/Germanic myths as well as the more familiar Greek myths? Any special reason for this?|
|My family ethnic mix is English, Scottish, Irish, and German, so after being introduced to Greek Mythology as a kid through Hercules movies, I started to explore the mythology of my own family heritage. In 6th grade after reading The Hobbit, I became fascinated with fantasy too.|
|Your books almost seem to be an invitation for young people to learn the myths of not only ancient Greece but other cultures as well. Was that intentional?|
|Yes, and I will be weaving that mixture all that through each of the series of books spinning off from All The Mermaids In The Sea.|
|While Poseidon and Amphitrite come from classical mythology, did you draw your inspiration for your characters from a literary source?|
|The character of the prince is taken from an actual king of Denmark, King Valdemar I, known as the builder. The rest of the main characters were mostly inspired by my family. I am a twin, but not identical. I had black hair and my twin brother had auburn hair and at one point was 6 inches shorter than I was. I was over six feet tall and stopped growing at 13 and he didn’t stop growing until his 20’s, but we wound up the same height. The personalities of my mermaids are all from my 4 nieces.|
|In Mermaid Christmas, you spend a fair amount of time describing coelenterates. Can we expect a new generation of marine naturalists to get their start as a result of reading your book?|
|Jelly fish, sea anemones and planktons are a part of every story, but they will be a great part of Pearl A Modern Day Mermaid and that series I hope inspires of lot of young readers to become marine naturalists, or biologists.|
|If you mention the Faroe Islands to most Americans, the response will be on the order of “Huh?” but yet it is one of the major locales in the story. Why?
|It was a total fluke. I was putting together all the myths and geographic structure of my story and pulled out a map. I said to myself that if all this stuff was true then I would create a secret island somewhere out here, between Ireland and Iceland, and then I notice there really was a series of islands, right where I wanted them to be. Not only that, they were part of Denmark and had a rich lore of mermaids and silkies and Norse Gods, all their own.|
|All the Mermaids In The Sea has quite the cast of characters. Was it difficult bringing a crowd like this to life?|
|Each generation needed to feel alive and complete, so the cast of characters just created themselves as the stories took on their own life.|
|Your major female characters are Helmi, Miranda and Perl. Is there a commonality – besides the obvious – that ties them all together?|
|Helmi means “Pearl” in Finnish, and I used the tradition of naming a daughter after her grandmother to connect them. Also building the mythology of the lavender pearls. Oddly enough back in 2002 when I started working on All The Mermaids I googled “Pearl and mermaid” and there was no other story out there that used that name for a mermaid. Now, after publishing the book, I have discovered that there is more than one book that uses that name for a mermaid. I used Miranda because it was the name created by Shakespeare for the heroine in his play ‘The Tempest’. It a means admirable and beautiful plus it had the Mir – part of the name which in Celtic, refers to the sea.|
|My favourite character is Pearl. What’s she like?
|Pearl was based on my third niece, the one who went to DolphinQuest. She looks like Ann Hathaway, and loved all the Disney movies of The Little Mermaid, and was the one who introduced me to The Princess Diaries. She is scary bright, fearless, and loves sushi.|
|At the end of the story, Pearl’s adoptive parents have retired to Little Ditma. Will we see them again in any future story?
|Yes, they come back in the new series Pearl, A Modern Day Mermaid.|
That’s it for today. We’ll be back tomorrow for the second part of this interview where we will learn more about Perl, as well as some of the other characters in Robert Cabell’s Mermaid Kingdom series. We’re also going to more about Mr. Cabell, his many accomplishments and his plans for the future.
- Copyright 2012 & 2013 by Amazon.com. All rights reserved↵
I wanted to give a bit of advance notice to those of you who likeand Young Adult fantasy. Tomorrow, February 4th, 2012, I will release Part I of an interview with Robert W. Cabell, author of All The Mermaids In The Sea and A Mermaid Christmas. This is my most ambitious interview to date and I’ll play 20 Questions – 33, actually – with an extremely talented and fascinating writer. Part II will be released on February 5th. This is definitely an interview to read!
by Emily Goodwin
No doubt, it has become a maxim amongst those who follow my reviews ofthat if I write a review, I am going to naturally say that it’s a great book. In reality, I only write reviews for books that I believe are really good/great/fantastic. Therefore, in the lines below, is my review of a Young Adult bit of that I found to be really good and enjoyed immensely. As an added bonus, there is the cover art at the left. It is one of the very few depictions of a mermaid – or merman – perched on a rock that is reasonably close enough to the water’s surface that the mer-person can climb on to it without much of a struggle. Think of it; the usual illustration of a mermaid – or merman – depicts them ensconced upon a rock that is at least five or six feet above the water. While this may be done to simply show off the artist’s lovely depiction of a mer-tail, the whole scene beggars belief. Since the mer-person is “en-tailed”, just how do they get up there? Levitate?
But enough talk about art; let’s talk about the story itself. It is natural for the new girl in school to feel like a fish out of water but in Melia’s case it is literally true. Melia is a M – the Celtic equivalent of a mermaid. Actually, Melia is only aon her father’s side; her mother is a or water nymph. In the world that Ms Goodwin has created for us, Merrows are tied to the sea. In other words, they can’t simply swap their fins for a pair of legs and go for a stroll on the beach. Oceanids, however, can live on land as well as in the sea and since she is the product of a mixed marriage, Melia can come and go as she pleases.
Right now, Melia is spending most of her time on dry land since the murder of her sister by parties unknown. Her step-father is human and is also extremely well off. Her mother spends most of her time at his side in New York City. Melia has tried living there but the water quality is wretched and who can blame her for wanting to stay on the left coast. There she sits; the sole occupant of a grand house overlooking the sea with only the cook cum body-guard for company. Her only friends are a nerdy girl named Jamie Foster – who is able to see into the spirit world – and Peter Anderson – football player and overall handsome dude – who, having recently ditched his girl due to a question of infidelity, is a free agent; or at least until he becomes involved with Melia.
Peter took Melia’s hands in his. The Friday morning sun sparkled in her eyes. She looked fantastic again today in another short dress. If she didn’t look so good in dresses (and if they weren’t as short as they were) Peter would think it odd that she always wore them. He liked that she rarely wore make up and her hair was almost always down.
Jamie was enlisted by Melia to divine the culprit in her sister’s murder. While Melia reveals her true self to Jamie early in the story, it won’t be until much, much later that Peter will find out and only after the two of them have become seriously involved. Jamie is quite accepting of what Melia is. Peter is a different story.
Melia is a child of the Pacific Ocean and not everything appears to be quite well there. Sightings of strange creatures become the norm. Melia tries to pay a visit to theback home and discovers that not only has their undersea settlement has been abandoned but it appears that everyone has left in a hurry. Melia tries to keep a lid on all of this so as not to alarm Jamie and keep Peter thinking that she is a slightly odd but quite attractive person. This is her first real relationship and she so does not want it to end. That becomes harder and harder as strange creatures appear on the shore and on land. Melia does her best to protect those she cares about but her best may not be enough.
Emily Goodwin has done an outstanding job of weaving various aquatic mythologies together in order to build the world that Melia – and, increasingly, Jamie and Peter – inhabits. Melia lives at the interface between the world of humans and the world of her birth and the conflict she feels between wanting to go “home” and wanting to be with her human friends is quite palpable. Of the three main characters, Peter is the most normal. No paranormal powers or fins for him. Yet he becomes quite real because of the burden he bears; the unwanted child of religious parents who somehow see him as a reminder of and punishment for their pre-marital dalliance. Peter is marginalised as his parents focus their attention on his younger brother and sister and while Peter’s parents may feel that they are doing what is best for their oldest son, they are, in reality, pushing him further and further away.
In that way, Peter and Melia share a common condition. Both are outcasts from the worlds of their birth. Peter wants to escape his world by going off to college but he increasingly feels the tug of his life with Melia slowing his steps. Melia would love to be able to re-enter the sea and leave the alien world of life on land behind but the pull of those she loves above the waves keeps her where she is. It is this unconscious sense of commonality, as well as their love for each other, that binds them together.
If there is one theme that stands out in this story, it is that of loving someone for whom they are and not what they are. Humans are not exactly the favourites of the denizens of the deep but Melia most certainly loves the ones she has come to know closely. Peter’s acceptance of Melia for what she is turns out to be a bit rough at first but Peter comes to realise that she is the person he loves and – above all else – wants to protect and be with. This mutual love and acceptance can be contrasted with the relationship between Peter and his parents. They fail to love him for who he is – their first-born child – and only see him as what he is; the reason that they had to marry.
Jamie is accepted and cared for by two of the most attractive people at school, not simply because of her paranormal abilities but because she is a brave and loyal person rather than just some nerdy kid. It is because of the acceptance and encouragement coming from both Melia and Peter that Jamie starts to come out of her shell and claim her place in the world as a person of value and worthiness. It is through Ms Goodwin’s careful crafting that Beyond the Sea goes well beyond the province of simply being a Young Adult paranormal tale and becomes a story with a deeper meaning.
“It’s a shame,” Peter whispered, sitting on the bed.
“What is?” Melia asked as she sat on his lap.
“That no one on land will know how truly brave and amazing you are.”
“You know. That’s enough for me.”
While this is not the first Young Adult novel that Emily Goodwin has authored, she can be justly proud of her accomplishments in conceiving the story, bringing the characters to life and gifting the reader an exciting plot with a deeper meaning below its surface. In its own way, Beyond the Sea is as memorable as its namesake song by Bobby Darin. This story stays with the reader long after the last sentence is read.
The second book in the Beyond the Sea series, Red Skies at Night, is due for release later in 2013. If the quality of the first book is any indication, the second book will be a “must read” for fans of this particular genre.
My Rating: Emily Goodwin’s blog may be found at www.emily-goodwin.blogspot.com
Read a sample of Beyond the Sea
by Emm Cole
This reviewer has read quite a bit of ”” as research for his own novel and has noticed that a lot of the stories fall into a somewhat predictable pattern such as human girl/boy meets a mer- man/maid who is/may be a prince/princess. While there is nothing particularly wrong with that sort of scenario – and a good number of this reviewer’s favourite stories do fit this mould – he is nonetheless always on the look-out for something different and Emm Cole’s Merminia certainly fits the bill. Indeed, it is different – very different – from the usual fare.
The scene is set when the two sons of a deceased king go to war against each other over how their father’s kingdom was divided between them. It is a bloody and terrible conflict that envelops not only the opposing armies but the land and sea as well. The daughter of one of the combatants creates a ring from gifts given to her by her father and uncle in order to create a magic spell. She sacrifices the ring – and herself – to the sea so that the fates may step in and halt this bloody conflict.
For once, the fates keep their side of the bargain by enveloping her father and his subjects in the sea and rendering them as. Her uncle’s subjects are confined to the land and cursed with shorter lives and illnesses. Alessia’s father finds her ring but never recovers his daughter. While his restraint in not using the ring is rewarded by the fates, his people squabbled over whether his inaction was good or bad. After his death, the people separate themselves into different clans based on the differing gifts bestowed upon the mermaids and history repeats itself as these clans engage in internecine warfare. It is here that the main story begins.
Selinne is the daughter of the hereditary chief of the Merminians and is not your typical mermaid. Indisposed to gossiping and adorning herself, she swims to a different drum and often finds herself in situations requiring rescue by her adoring adopted brother. The leader of the Litiant clan has been conducting a ruthless search for Adessa’s ring unaware of the fact that one of his sons had found and hidden the ring when he was as child. Ms Cole’s spellbinding story revolves around the conflict between the rival clans and one chief’s thirst for ultimate power.
The reader should not think for one moment that this is simply a sub-aquatic version of Lord of The Rings. While there are sea-dragons and other fearsome beasts, there are no mer-hobbits. Merminia is a story of conflict, capture, brutality, horror, betrayal and love with an ending that is not necessarily a happy one for the main characters.
Emm Cole’s Merminia is a compelling story that should keep most readers entranced. The book itself is a very clean read with few – if any – typos, grammatical errors or misused words. That in and of itself garners high marks from this reviewer. While it is not a “happily ever after” kind of story, the reader will want to reach the end so that they can put all of the pieces together and ponder the unanswered questions. The story itself is a dark one but leaves this reviewer with a sense of hope for Selinne and her clan.
Overall, this is a very YA-friendly novel though, because of the darker elements of the plot, this reviewer would recommend it for older young adults. The story does not scream “Young Adult Fiction” and not-so-young adults will enjoy it as well. Merminia’s story arc lends itself more to a stand-alone novel rather than the first of a series. While trilogies seem to be the thing in Young Adult Fiction nowadays, the fact that this appears to be a one-off helps to make it more engaging and unique. While this novel is Ms Cole’s first venture into the underwater realm of, this reviewer earnestly hopes that it will not be her last and that adults – both young and otherwise – will have another opportunity to enjoy Emm Cole’s considerable story-telling skills and prowess as a writer.
Read a sample of Merminia
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 thewho 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 were behind it all and their friendship quickly turned into bitterness and hate.
As the story opens, theare 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 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 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.
by Marcus Rowe
Mermaid Memoirs is one of those rare gems that you stumble upon accidentally. In my case, I was on goodreads.com updating my progress with the book I was reading at that time when an ad for a hitherto unknown book showed up on the page. I followed the link to amazon.co.uk – it’s where I go to buy printed British books as I hate the Americanised versions – and then had to go back to amazon.com because when you buy a Kindle version, it has to be from the Amazon site for your country. With that bit sorted, I made my purchase and set about reading.
Mermaid Memoirs tells a poignant and often heart-breaking story of love and rejection. Jude and Sara had been married for almost six years when he brings up the idea of starting their family. Sara is not quite as keen as Jude but, in the end, she agrees to start trying. There follows a series of three pregnancies – all of which miscarry – and each one is of a shorter duration than the one before it. At that point trying to start a family comes off the table.
On the evening of their 6th wedding anniversary, the couple are swept up in the romance of their celebration and sleep together without a thought for the potential consequences. As luck would have it, Sara falls pregnant and this time it sticks. A routine prenatal scan turns up the possibility that the bones of the foetus may not be developing as they should and the spectre of a deformity is raised. After a bit of agonising, Sara settles on continuing the pregnancy.
The following months are not easy on Sara and neither is her labour. Jude is the first to see his newborn daughter and discovers that she has a single deformed leg. It’s a bitter pill but he loves her just the same. Sara, however, is another matter. She immediately rejects the child, refusing to name it as she wants to place the baby for adoption as soon as possible. Jude names the child Macy and by the time Sara ends her stay in hospital, she has somewhat grudgingly accepted motherhood.
Jude is more a mother to Macy than Sara is and loves her unconditionally. After a number of years, Sara cannot cope with Macy being almost the sole focus of Jude’s life and walks out on their marriage. In hopes of containing home schooling and baby sitting costs, Jude decides to enroll her in a nearby school. This only lasts a number of months before Jude withdraws Macy because of the bullying she has to endure on a daily basis due to her deformity. As a result, Macy spends the rest of her academic career studying from home.
On a Saturday’s outing to the sea, Macy places her deformed leg in the water to see what it feels like and discovers that the leg has been replaced by a mermaid’s tail. On subsequent seaside outings with her father, the two are observed by a merman who informs Jude that her place is really with the inhabitants of an underwater village and not on land. The caveat is that she can never return as theare afraid of humans and worry that she might betray the location of their village.
Jude agrees that it probably is for the best and reluctantly sends Macy to live with her own kind. She loves the new-found freedom of movement but soon runs afoul of her new neighbours as they taunt and bully Macy because she once lived with humans. Macy has now experienced rejection both on land and sea as she finds that theare just as bad as the humans they hate and fear.
Mermaid Memoirs is a wonderful story though like a diamond in the rough, it wants a bit of polishing. There are some dropped letters and words which the reader may be inclined to overlook as this book is self-published by Mr. Rowe. The only really annoying bit is that he repeatedly uses the collective noun, mermaids, to refer to the villagers – both female and male. The mermen may simply take this gender reassignment as a compliment but at times it can be confusing to the reader.
This book is definitely YA-friendly though young American readers should be aware that since Mr. Rowe is British, he naturally uses words, grammar, idioms and colloquialisms more often found on the east side of the pond which the inexperienced may find a bit off-putting.
There are a number of plot-threads left hanging at the end of Mermaid Memoirs but readers need not be alarmed. Marcus Rowe plans to publish a sequel in October of this year. Mermaid Memoirs is only available as an e-book at Amazon.com.
Read a sample of Mermaid Memoirs
Tempest Unleashed stands head, shoulders and tail above the debut book in the Tempest series; Tempest Rising. This is no implication that her first book is not an enjoyable read – which it is – but rather, that Ms. Deebs really seems to have hit her stride with the second novel.
As the story opens, it has been 8 months since Tempest swam off into the sunset with her Selkie boyfriend, Kona, and in that time she has learned quite a bit. For starters, the Queen of the mer-clan that Tempest belongs to is not the frail, kindly old lady that appears in the latter half of the first book. Appearances are deceiving and Queen Hailana has turned out to be a scheming, conniving, and manipulative person for whom no deed is too dark if the safety and future of the clan is at stake. In short, she is the mermaid version of Don Corleone.
Tempest also learns that her late mother was often Queen Hailana’s enforcer as well as her advisor. In other words, she was a cross between Luca Brazi and Michael Corleone. This gives a whole new perspective on the term “Sleeping with the fishes.”
Finally, Tempest has learned that aside from taking over the franchise after the Queen’s (un)timely demise, she is also the Queen’s advisor and whipping girl who seemingly cannot do anything right. Tempest is not too sure about the Queen business but she does have a score to settle with the evil – is there any other kind? – sea witch, Tiamat, over the death of her mother.
Tempest is glad that she has chosen the life aquatic but cannot realistically leave all of her past behind. Though her ex-boyfriend, Mark, has moved on to court a cheerleader and Tempest has moved on with her new boyfriend, Kona, she cannot say a final farewell to her family. She can also not say farewell to burgers from In and Out but that’s another part of the story.
Tempest is making a surreptitious visit to La Jolla to check on her family even though Hailana has told her that the cause of many of Tempest’s troubles and shortcomings is her inability to finally close the door on her life on land. Tempest still has a trouble calculating her arrival times and winds up off La Jolla, CA in the wee small hours of the morning. Dawn comes and she surfaces to have one final glimpse of her house. In doing so, she sees him – Mark, her old boyfriend – and discovers that things aren’t quite as dead and buried as she thought. Mark sees Tempest out in the ocean and it is readily apparent that he has not moved on as she had hoped.
Thus, the stage is set and Tempest Rising takes the reader on a roller coaster of danger, emotions and action. Much ofis written with a primarily young adult female audience in mind. There is more than enough action in this story to attract YA males – at least those who are secure in their masculinity. Overall, Tempest Rising is a YA-friendly story. The battle scenes can be a bit violent but they are simply part of the action and this reviewer can assure readers that there are no mermaids tied to the railroad tracks in advance of the 9:15 train from LA. There is action, adventure and – of course – romance in Tempest Unleashed which should make the story quite appealing to Young Adult readers. While Tempest Rising could have easily been a stand-alone book, Tempest Unleashed leaves the reader begging for more.
by Brenda Pandos
There MUST be some sort of “Mer Mojo” in this book because once I opened it, the covers of my Kindle were glued to my hands. I had promised myself that I would take it one chapter at a time but that went by the boards quickly and I wanted to send my wife over to her mother’s for the week-end so I could read this in one marathon sitting. No food. No naps. The only time I’d stop would be for bathroom calls. Fortunately, none of that happened . . . for the most part. I don’t know HOW Brenda Pandos does it but she does it very, very well and the reader would be well advised to strap themselves in and prepare for the ride of their life.
Consistency - in anything – is difficult and as is often the case, the second book in a series is not quite as good as the first. The reader need not worry about this happening with Evergreen; This book is just as good as the first but for different reasons. In Everblue, there is the requisite exposition by way of introducing characters and world-building wrapped up in a very compelling story. Evergreen allows Brenda Pandos to take what she created in the first book and give it all a good workout where assumptions are tossed into the proverbial cocked hat and quite a bit of what you thought you knew turns out to be wrong to one degree or another. This is what helps to make the second book in the Mer Tales series a success.
Then, there are the two main characters; Ashley Lanski and Finley Helton, a.k.a. Ash & Fin. Ash is a young woman of seventeen years and a member of her school’s swim team. Fin is a Mer-boy and used to live with his parents next door to Ash. Together, they are promised to each other; a bit of Mer magic that binds the hearts and souls of two people from the moment of their very first kiss. Forever after, any significant separation can be gut-wrenching and emotionally trying, especially in the early part of their new relationship. Mononucleosis is a breeze compared to this.
Fin and his parents are on the run from the decidedly unsavoury elements of their politically deteriorating Kingdom known as Natatoria. Their destination is Boca Raton, Florida – the home of Florida Atlantic University – where Ash plans to attend school on a swimming scholarship. Ash is looking forward to a possible trip to the Olympics and a quiet college career on the FAU swim team where the most excitement will probably come from a bit of sub-aquatic snogging with Fin. As the story progresses, that becomes less and less likely. Ash will learn that sometimes, choices we thought we had are made for us and, most poignantly, that there is no going back from some things & gains are often accompanied by losses. Fin will learn that he doesn’t have quite as many options as he believed and that talking on the phone with Ash for too long can be hazardous to his health.
Evergreen is a YA-friendly book with enough thrills and excitement to keep older readers enthralled as well the young. Brenda Pandos teaches her YA readers about overcoming fear, enduring love, fidelity and hope. I cannot give this book any higher recommendation than this; It is a compelling and exciting book with endearing characters. If humans want an idea of the pain of separation that those who are promised to one another must endure, then they should by all means read Evergreen and then try waiting until the next book in the series comes out in 2013.
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by Adrianna Stepiano
If you think that When, At Last, He Found Me is a book that you'd like to read or give to someone as a gift, you'll be happy to know that we have a few copies left over from our Holiday Give-away. Swim on over to our Merry Mermaid Clearance Centre and claim one. They are free and yours for the asking!
The Young Adult version of thegenre is often based on a young adult female suddenly discovering that she is a mermaid. (So far, I have seen few – if any – story lines where this happens to a young adult male.) This momentous event usually happens to girls who have been repeatedly warned by parents – living or dead – to stay out of the water. Not only is there this profound change in life-style, but the heroine discovers that she has special abilities (aside from being able to live under water), is a princess, a future queen, a savior of some sort, etc. Finally, she was originally born or goes to live in some sort of mystical, magical, mermaid-land under the sea.
All these are common elements of the genre and a number of them appear in this, the first book of the Memoir of a Mermaid series, but Adrianna Stepiano takes her story in a completely different direction. Seraphin Shedd is one such girl who discovers that things – including herself – are not what they once seemed. On the day of her high school graduation, she is completely alone; Her mother having departed when she was an infant and her father dead in the ocean when she was 10. To further complicate her life, she has blackouts at times of emotional anxiety like when she thinks of her father’s untimely death. On the same day she receives her diploma, she also receives the key to the family estate, – an ordinary house on an ordinary street in an ordinary neighbourhood next to the sea – meets the somewhat baffling nephew, Joseph, of her biology teacher, and discovers that this very same teacher has suddenly disappeared.
All alone with no family and no college plans, Seraphin obtains a position as a housekeeper through the auspices of a neighbour. This job is at an oceanic research institute on nearby Great Cranberry Island. There, she finds the nephew of her now missing Biology teacher working under an assumed name. He has a friend in the person of a fellow researcher named Perrine Canard and working there as well is an acquaintance from high school named Ethan Cottington. Thus, the cast of central characters is gathered and the story really gets under way.
It is this reviewer’s policy not to include spoilers or plot synopses but rather to give his impression of the book as a whole and comment on some elements of the story. That being said, this book is a real “page-turner” and the plot keeps you guessing. I am always looking for teachable moments in Young Adult Fiction and Ms. Stepiano’s story contains a fair number. At one point or another, Seraphin encounters prejudice and bigotry, bullying and belittling.
One thing that makes this book stand out is that Ms. Stepiano has declined to create a magical undersea mer-kingdom. Instead, she portraysas ordinary people living ordinary lives and holding down everyday jobs. These are the residents of Seraphin’s neighbourhood who have been watching and protecting her ever since her father died. It is these characters that help give this story a few comic touches and grounding in the in the real, believable world. The heroine is an extraordinary girl doing extraordinary things, loved and supported by her friends and neighbours.
The story contains romance, mystery, danger and heroism. Although the book was aimed at the mid-teen segment of the Young Adult market, it is easily readable and enjoyable by older teens as well as adults. In short, it is fun and exciting.
When, At Last, He Found Me will be followed by When, At Last, She Could See in January of 2013 and this reviewer believes that it will be eagerly anticipated. Aside from Seraphin and Joseph, there is a budding romance between the other two central characters that many readers, including myself, hope will be continued or at least expanded upon in the second book. Indeed, it has the potential to be a novel spun off of the main story.
Adrianna Stepiano has the makings of a real Young Adult classic on her hands and I hope that the next book will be just as good – if not better – as the first.