I feel like the world at large is gradually moving back away from the unicorn trend towards mermaids. If this means more fantasy books set under the sea then I’m all for it. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book where the main character was a mermaid before, but I hope this isn’t the last time.
A red tide is rising.
Jade, a seventeen-year-old mermaid in the underwater city of Thessalonike, finds her world upended when her fiancé murders a naiad. As tensions surge between the mer and the naiads, Jade must navigate murky waters, negotiating her responsibilities as the daughter of one of the king’s most trusted advisors and her budding friendship with a naiad. But as she tries to fight the tide of anger in a city that lives for scandal, she discovers that danger lurks in every canal. If she fails to mend the divisions between their worlds, the upwelling of hate will threaten to rip apart everything she loves.
This has all the classic elements of a great YA fantasy novel. There’s mystery, there’s magic, there’s a society divided into factions and there’s murder. I started this book thinking it was going to be laughable and that I would be entirely disenchanted by page four. But, like a current, this book swept me along and I found myself reading the whole thing in a day because I had to know what happened! Add to that the (possible spoiler alert?) massive cliffhanger of an ending (end of possible spoiler) and you have yourself a recipe for a book, the sequel of which will definitely end up in my TBR list on goodreads as soon as it can!
The plot is pretty darn cool. I loved the elements of internal conflict in Jade as she struggles with the complications of noble society and the implications her actions could have on the rest of her family while still trying to be herself. In fact, you could probably take away the under the sea element and this would still be a halfway decent YA novel. But it’s the fantasy element of having mermaids and naiads that makes this extra amazing. There are little touches, like how mermaids might administer medicine through the gills, or how mermaid clothing would work, or how there would certainly be a small amount of trade with ‘overlanders’ that make it clear that the author has really thought about how this society would function.
The romance was the only thing that might not suit everyone as there is a slight element of ‘insta-love’ that is disguised by ‘we used to know each other as children’ but I think this can be fleshed out in later books and it was certainly nowhere near as cringey or awful as these things have a tendency of being. Her romantic interest was also pretty awesome -at least in my imagination.
This is a strong opening to a series that could get a whole lot more amazing as it goes on and the underwater world expands in later books. The setting is interesting and captivating as it feels so different to the vast majority of fantasy books that I have known or loved, mainly as they are so often set in a forest. If you’re at all on board with this mermaid trend that seems to be turning up everywhere (again?) then I recommend having a read of Breakwater, it’ll quench your thirst for unique fantasy settings.
My rating: 4/5 Stars
Breakwater is due to publish on the 30th of May 2017 but is available to preorder now if the fancy takes you.
By the way: I received a digital advanced review copy of Breakwater from the publisher (Fathom Ink Press) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, all my opinions are my own and I wouldn’t recommend this if I didn’t think it was worth reading.
Any love for mermaid books, anything else I should read? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter (@judithcmoore) I’d love to hear from you!