Source: Egalley received from author
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Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.I haven't been accepting many self-published books for review recently. Not because I don't want to, but because I have so many things piling up on me. Not only do I have books to read and review that I've already accepted or requested, along with books I've bought or been given, but I also have work and friends to keep up with, plus I'll be starting back at school soon. But when I got an email from Ciye Cho asking me to review his book, Florence, my fancy was caught.
Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand--and find out where she belongs--Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart... and her very soul.
Florence follows Florence Waverley, a very average, unnoticed teenager, as she is taken into the world of the Niemelans, mermaids who live in secret on the bottom of the ocean, hiding from human eyes and from the dangers of the world around them. She is seen as an outsider in her world, as well as theirs, but slowly she finds a place for herself as she becomes involved in the Niemelans battle against the Darkness, the forces that would destroy them, and involved with the two princes of the people.
I was enchanted by the idea of a human brought into the world of mermaids, rather than a mermaid in the world of the humans like we normally get. And the world created by Cho for our mermaids to live in is fascinating and beautiful. Every person has a role and nothing goes to waste for their people. They work to protect themselves from the mystery and danger of the Darkness, something else I was intrigued by. Normally, mermaids are at one with their surroundings, generally working with the creatures, rather than against them. To see the Niemelans battle against giant undersea creatures was quite a treat, and an aspect I loved.
At first I thought Florence was a rather boring protagonist, average in her world, average in the Niemelans, but she grew into so much more. Somehow, in a place where she should have felt most at odds, she seemed to find a home and a place, and blossomed into a new person; a person with a purpose and with drive, and a pleasure to read. I also deeply enjoyed the progression of her relationships with Kiren and Rolan, two very different princes and two very different relationships. It seems like it'd be a love triangle, but it wasn't really, and that was something I appreciated. Both princes are much more than they seem, but one is better than one could imagine and the other is deeply troubled with a heartbreaking story.
There were times where I felt like dialogue was a little stilted and the story got slow, and I thought the beginning had a bit of a slow start. But once we got into the world of the Niemelans it picked up for the most part and I really couldn't put Florence down.
Risk a paper cut? Florence is an above average mermaid book that turns the tropes on their heads. Easily worth the read for a new look on the mermaid genre.
Visit the book's site for sample chapters!