Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Length: 320 pages
Source: Library Book
Once a lost and confused princess, Serafina is now a confident leader of the Black Fin Resistance (BFR). While she works on sabotaging her enemy and enlisting allies for battle, her friends face challenges of their own.
Ling is in the hold of Rafe Mfeme's giant trawler, on her way to a prison camp. Becca meets up with Astrid and learns why the Ondalinian mermaid is always so angry: she is hiding a shameful secret. Ava can't return home, because death riders await her arrival. And it is getting more and more difficult for Mahdi, Serafina's betrothed, to keep up the ruse that he is in love with Lucia Volerno.
If Lucia's parents become suspicious, his life--and all of Sera's hopes--will be extinguished. Political intrigue, dangerous liaisons, and spine-tingling suspense swirl like a maelstrom in this penultimate book in the WaterFire saga
Protagonists: Unlike the previous installments in this series, this book has a much wider range of perspectives. Whereas the previous installments mainly focused on Serafina and Neela, this installment has a focus on Ling and Astrid with smaller storylines focusing on Becca, Sera, and Ava. I was so glad to learn more about these other characters. Astrid has a very strong arc as she's hiding a secret that she believes makes her a liability to the other merls, and because of that she pulls away. Astrid's character development was so great, it wasn't just a quick fix, it's something that takes nearly the entire book to be resolved and it just felt so powerful. Ling's storyline has less to do with her character development, though she does face some growth, and has more to do with escaping Rafe Mfeme aka Orfeo, and finding her ancestor's talisman while on the way making more shocking discoveries. There are smaller arcs such as Sera preparing her rebellion to take back Miromara, Becca helping Astrid come to terms with who she is and finding her own talisman, Lucia (believe it or not) swimming some dark depths to try and discover if Mahdi's love for her is true, and Ava finding out that you can't go home again. I know it sounds like a lot, but it all flows together in a fantastic and strongly spun story.
Romance: Since Sera isn't a main POV in this book I didn't expect very much romance since before now the only real romance has been between Sera and Mahdi. That being said, there is some romance between Sera and Mahdi, but it really only takes up about a chapter, and there are some chapters that show Lucia's twisted "love" for Mahdi. Now for the new romances, I won't say too much about them but I will say that there are two, once for Astrid and one for Becca. Now Astrid's romance I was surprisingly delighted by. It's something that even by the end of the book is still so innocent and new and I felt like it was handled in a fantastic way. Becca's romance on the other hand, while for a while I was totally engrossed by it, it didn't take too long for things to get serious fast. Now there's a wrinkle of complication to her romance and I can see why the author might want to speed it up, but romances that move too fast still really bother me.
World Building: With our new POVs comes a wonder of world building. The most interesting I believe is seeing Ondalina and learning about their culture and how deeply it contrasts with that of Miromara. Ondalina is a very militant place where being different could be perceived as weakness. While I'm not saying I'd move to Ondalina I did find it a very interesting place. While we're there we learn more about Merfolk, such as the and the political situation between the various governing bodies. We do learn about other cultures such as Ava's people and their deep reverence for the Mer gods. There's still so much revealed and unfolded in this story that lends to the deep and fantastic world building that this series has.
Predictability: As much as this series can shock you at times, I have to say that this specific installment does seem to have a problem keeping things secret. There were a couple of things that I didn't quite predict, but for the most part, it was easy to see where this story was going to go for the most part once you have enough breadcrumbs. I think the most shocking thing that this book revealed was something that took me until maybe a page or two before to predict. That being said though the twists aren't annoyingly predictable, I was just missing some of the insane twists we've seen in the past installments.
Ending: This ending was a weird mix of ending too soon and ending too late. It's funny there was one chapter that was like second or third to last that I felt would have been the perfect end to this book, a bit of a cliffhanger with that sort of powerful sentence to leave off before the final installment. However it does go a bit further, it doesn't really start anything new but it just felt a bit... postmature? Is that even a word? That being said, as the story wraps up there are some fantastic scenes that really begin to set up how the final installment in this phenomenal series will unfold. Though I do have to say there are a lot of plot threads that I'll be very impressed if this author can tie them all up in a concise, but not too rushed way, by the end of the next and final installment.
So I know it probably seems totally unfair that I'm knocking half a star off because a small romantic subplot went too fast, but it's a serious pet peeve of mine and all the chemistry in the world couldn't change it. That being said everything else in this book is just whar I wanted out of the previous isntallment. It felt like a complete story and that no one was really missing in action.