*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*
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.
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. Synopsis from Goodreads.
In case you didn't read the synopsis, Florence follows a teenage girl who is kidnapped and taken to live underwater with the merpeople in their city of Niemela. I enjoyed most of this book, especially its descriptions and beautiful setting.
The first thing to mention is the prologue. It immediately draws in the reader by giving a sneak peak of a scene from the book with no context. It certainly got me wondering exactly how Florence gets to that point in her story.
Florence herself is - I hate to say it - what people think of as your typical YA heroine. She's sad, lonely and misunderstood. Her special talent is photography and... she has red hair. Despite, or probably because, of this, she was quite relatable at some points - I recall one part where she is complaining about the teacher taking attendance, because she knows that her response won't be loud enough for them to hear, and everyone will turn and look at her. That's happened to me so, so many times. Still, she was quite a bland, uncomplicated character.
After finding all that out about Florence, you probably wouldn't expect her to quickly find romance - never mind becoming caught in the middle of a love triangle. But yes, that's what happened. It appeared that not one, but two merman fell in love with her at first sight. Deep sigh. Fortunately, there are things explained much later on that help this make just a little more sense.
My favourite characters were Rolan and Kiren, the two mermen in the love triangle. Rolan just happened to fall into a trope that I enjoy - [when a character pretends to hate someone to protect them - I know, it's problematic but I can't help it]. Kiren, at first, seemed even more uncomplicated than Florence, but it turned out that he was the most complicated character of the story. I loved seeing his character develop.
Yolee was the other main character in this book. Being a young mermaid, she was enthusiastic and joyful almost all the time. It was often like she had no concern for what was going on around her. Florence estimates her age to be around 13, but based off her personality and actions, I would put her under 10 years old. However, I did love the relationship between her and Florence.
The pacing in the book was a bit off for me. For the first half of it, I was left wondering when it was going to get to the point. Fortunately, at about halfway through, there was a nice plot twist which piqued my interest and motivated me to keep going. It got a lot more interesting from that point onward, especially in the last third of the book. This was especially due to the limits of the story being stretched. Until this point, all the action had been contained within the small space of the city of Niemela, with no outside forces involved. When other influences came to light, things started to get a lot more interesting, and I started to really enjoy the book.
Something that was interesting to me whilst reading was how formally and fancily the characters dialogue was. Sometimes it was a little weird, but it was definitely the way of the merpeople and I think that most of the time, it worked.
My favourite part about the novel was its setting. Thanks to the photographer in Florence, the reader gets beautiful descriptions of everything that she encounters whilst under the sea. I especially adored The Oceanarium.
Other things I enjoyed about the novel include the concept of the merpeople having special gifts - like superpowers. It was cool that individuals had different abilities. There were also some awesome action scenes.
Overall, this was an okay paranormal YA. For me, the good and the bad ended up balancing out almost evenly. It certainly tackles the teenage issues associated with belonging, and also how to be yourself. The main character wasn't my favourite, but the story was filled with beautiful descriptions. If you're interested in this genre, and you like mermaids, this book is one to consider.