Book Review: Florence by Ciye Cho

Author: Ciye Cho
Reading Level: YA
Genre: Fantasy
Released: July 1st 2012
Review Source: Author
Available: Amazon

Summary: (from goodreads) 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.

Florence Waverley is just another girl in a small town who has spent most o her life just trying to blend in. She likes to think of herself as an observer of the world around her. She loves taking photos of others but is rarely if ever in her photos. Then one day she embarks on a school field trip to Mermaids Reach off of Hamilton Island. Armed with an assignment, a pad of paper, a few pens and her SeaBrite camera, Florence sets out to "observe" Mermaids Reach.

While observing, Florence notices some truly beautiful creatures swimming in the waters around her. She becomes so consumed with observing the structures beneath the surface of Mermaids reach that she fails to realize she has snorkeled far beyond the distance of her classmates. Unexpectedly she comes in contact with a creature who blows a silver dart out of a tube at her chest. It then starts dragging her far below the surface of the water to this strange but breathtakingly beautiful underwater kingdom.

She wakes in a paralyzed state, though fully conscious and realizes she has a polyp attached to the back of her neck that somehow is allowing her to breathe underwater. She has been brought into a world which seems to be inhabited by mermaids and mermen. The merfolk have no idea that she can understand them as they converse around her, as they speak Meridian which is the spoken language of all who inhabit Niemela (their world).

All starts to be revealed in conversations around her that she has been captured for the soon to be King as his coronation gift. Unfortunately not all seem to be pleased with the Merman who captured her from the surface as she is a human and humans are not welcome in their world. Humans are dangerous and would surely spell disaster for all of Niemela if they were revealed to the outside world. Florence is allowed to stay as a sort of pet to Yolee, the Niemelan Princess, who is a bit of a lost soul herself and is very interested in finding beauty in the creatures and life around her. Florence also becomes intrigued in different ways with the two Niemelan Prince's, Kiren and Rolan. She won't be able to hide in their world though. She is now the one being observed.

The story takes place over 6 days and has very clever elements tucked into the story as well as a host of fully dimensional characters who will make you scream, laugh and eventually come to love as the story progresses. Cho names her chapters in such a way that you feel like you are watching a play unfold inside your head. The story is mostly from Florence's point of view but she writes Interludes into her story that give the reader a glimpse into what is going on with other main characters. All in all this was a wonderfully fantastical world to read about. It was my first Mermaid novel and will definitely not be my last. In fact, my interpretation of the end of this story and hope, is that Cho is already writing a sequel or at least plans to write one in the near future. If you love Mermaid stories, action, adventure, fantasy or all of the above, this is a story that needs to be read!

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