You may have seen the Disney version of The Little Mermaid: you know that tale of a beautiful red head falling head over heels, or in this case tail, for a human prince and trading her voice and fins for love and feet? Maybe, like me, you felt it was a terrible love story, with little plot that implies true love can be found from looks alone and forgotten just as shallowly. Well forget all that, because this novel will spin that story on its head.
“Everyone is a blank canvas, waiting to be filled with the colour of discovery.”
Elyian is a prince but prefers to spend his days as a siren hunter, killing the most formidable beasts in all the hundred kingdoms. Lira is the killer her mother always wanted but doesn’t approve of. Desperate to please her queen and mother Lira brings the hearts of young princes to her palace only to be punished for the small mercies she shows them. But when Elyian is faced with the beast who murdered his friend and Lira is commanded to steal a heart without a tail or voice, it soon becomes clear that neither side can win this war.
The character development in this novel is fantastic. While Lira is struggling with an upbringing and morals that never agreed with her, Elyian learns that not all beasts are monsters. Their moral decisions, conundrums and questions really make this novel and I loved the scenes where we peak into the past that defined Lira so much or read Elyian’s desperation for freedom. They both mature throughout the novel and their reasoning for this change is refreshing and for once not completely about romance.
“We are not naïve little heirs to be molded as they wish. We are warriors. We are rulers.“
The focus on friendship in this novel is heart warming. Lira’s relationship with her cousin and Elyian’s with his crew is poinent to the plot in a way YA novels rarely highlight. Khalia is instrumental in Lira’s decisions throughout the novel and the bond the cousins share prove to Elyian and the reader that Lira is not just a killer. I particularly enjoyed the banter within Elyian’s crew, giving the novel a touch of humour that didn’t drag away from the plot. It felt very Pirates of Caribbean with the banter and witty remarks aboard a ship in search of treasure.
This novel balances action and story well. Although the reader often delves into a character’s thoughts and feelings, which can sometimes feel repetitive, there is still a lot of action. Being set on a ship and with a definitive goal the story is well formulated and easy to follow. The novel is very short, I felt it could have been a bit longer but perhaps that’s because I didn’t want it to end, meaning the plot never drags and the story tells itself. It felt well balanced and was very quick to read.
“You’re always looking for something,” he says.
“Theres always something to find.”
“If you’re not careful, the only thing you’ll find is danger.”
“Maybe that’s exactly what I’m looking for.”
Lira and Elyian’s love story is complex and subtle, constantly leaving the reader yearning for the honesty that neither can give. It’s definitely a slow burn romance and, although it plays a large part in their character development and decision making processes, I like that it’s not all they think of. They develop under their own merits and in their own way, somewhat independent of each other. Their story had depth to it with no fear of the long, warbling paragraphs filled with the colour of Lira’s eyes or how chiseled Elyian’s jaw is that some authors write. The depth shown by both characters is a refreshing take on an otherwise very shallow love story and the bond the characters form with those around them shows the reader a different kind of love.
“They celebrate love as though it’s power, even though it has killed far more humans than I ever have.“
The writing style in this novel is light and easy to read with descriptive trinket dotted through the miriage of thoughts and actions described by the characters. The reader can quickly grasp which character is narrating from the entertaining and obvious changes in tone and the writing encompasses both humour, action and pensive thoughts and decisions well, providing a unique combination that few authors can master.
This retelling of a classic fairytale is fantastic. It’s filled with adventure and excitement while keeping the reader poised with impossible situations and insolvable problems. The character’s really make the novel, showing a depth that most YA authors neglect. I would recommend it to any young adult fan.