We start this story with Luce, the main character. She's living with her uncle after her mother has died and her father disappears at sea. He uncle is cruel and abusive, but Luce has found ways to skirt his anger and to hide from his violent outbursts. That is, until the night that he hurts her in a different way--a near rape.
In a scene full of magic and surprising calm, Luce transforms from a broken, bloody girl to a gorgeous mermaid. She finds herself in the ocean, surrounded by a group of mermaids who are all former victims of some sort of abuse. The leader of this tribe, Catarina, tells Luce about their mermaid code, the "timakh." It's a pretty simple code, consisting of two rules: you cannot knowingly hurt another mermaid and you cannot have any sort of contact with humans.
Quickly, Luce begins to see that the timakh is not going to be the greatest of her undersea worries. To seek retribution for the crimes committed against them, the mermaids sink ships and kill every human on board. No survivors. As angry as Luce is about her human past, she has a difficult time reconciling her new job as a hunter of men (and women and girls and boys). And, she is blessed with an unfortunately alluring siren's song. When she sings underwater, sailors happily commit suicide. How will Luce begin to heal from her childhood pain if she is forced to kill for centuries to come?
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This is my first book involving mermaids. Initially, I was drawn to this book because of gorgeous cover and the interesting description of its plot. I have read many YA books that deal with the subject of abused and neglected teens, but this one seemed to come from such an original place. I had to read it.
And, I read it in one sitting. It had some slow areas, and it was definitely difficult at times to set aside my disbelief about some aspects of this book, but overall I thought that it was entertaining and interesting. I was drawn in by Luce, and intrigued by some of the other mermaids, Catarina in particular. She is the leader of this tribe of mermaids and is definitely hiding some secrets from the girls, even while demanding that they be open and honest with her.
More than the paranormal aspect of this book, I am left thinking about the true lost girls and lost voices in this world. There are so many lives that are lost to us from child abuse and there is so much that needs to be done to fight against it. At the beginning of the book, before Luce became a mermaid, her character was so realistic that I felt extremely connected to her. I couldn't help but be reminded of girls that I've worked with in the past who displayed a lot of the same characteristics as Luce.
I don't know that I love reading about mermaids more than my usual paranormal creatures--werewolves and the like. But, this is an interesting new(ish) segment of the YA paranormal world that I'm interested in reading more about. And, lucky for me, there are two more planned books in this series. This book will be released by Harcourt in July of 2011 and it is the author's debut novel.
**ARC sent to me by Book It Forward ARC Tours**