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Zara Zyon and a Maelstrom of Secrets Paperback – November 7, 2016
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Forced from the sea by the deadly Infernal Order, 13-year-old mermaid, Zara, is now swimming in secrets instead of water, and she doesn't care for it much. Although her people can change to human form and live on land, they must never, ever have an accident that causes them to bleed. Not only is their blood blue, but the scent of it alerts all creatures from the four realms of their presence. When Zara's keepsake shell breaks in her hand, slicing it open in the process, Zara is forced to either run or stay where she is and face the minions of the other realms. She chooses to stay. But you'll have to read the story yourself to learn how it all turns out.
Zara Zyon is an entertaining book that I recommend to all young (or even not-so-young) fantasy enthusiasts.
Zara is a mermaid who is hiding on land from Empress Atillix Viren and her Infernal Order, who are wreaking havoc in the sea, and now advancing to the land.
Members of the four non-human realms hide themselves in everyday human form: Aquatians, ocean dwellers like Zara, Aireons, Terraneans and Fireites. One day Zara’s treasured shell bracelet shatters and cuts her hand, and she immediately fears that enemies of her realm will smell it and try to capture her. Attempting to hide the evidence, she washes the bracelet pieces down a drain, but a short while later they magically return. Zara decides that the bracelet is endowed with a curse which has unknowingly, attached itself to her person. Several attempts to break the curse fail. Meanwhile, Zara has an invisible stalker, revealed only by the ‘squeak’, of his sneakers. Definitely one from another realm, but is he friend or foe?
The story mixes early teen romance, fighting an evil empress, doing right by the environment and being a good role model to others. These are impressive themes to want to include and I was intrigued as to how the author would approach these ideas and make them her own. For instance, a strong curse in an item of jewellery will always make me think of Harry Potter. Teenage mermaids send my mind to the TV series H2O. I did find myself making comparisons whilst reading this book, but I understand that although these ideas are made famous by such giants as the Harry Potter series, they are not exclusive to them.
The writing is easy to read and is suitable for the age range. However, for me, there was room to tighten and polish the writing; I felt it could have done with another draft or two and the removal of unnecessary dialogue 'tags', and using a wider range of dialogue techniques which might help differentiate between character voices. Also, lines like ‘the girls ran at a fast steady pace’, need a little more sorting with the help of a good editor.
I liked the idea of a girl wanting the freedom to be herself, and this theme has great potential, but for me, the ideas in this book felt rushed and under developed.