Book Review: Florence
By: Ciye Cho
Published By: Studio Amazepop
Publication Date: July 1, 2012
Page Count: 336
Source: eBook Kindly Provided by Author
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy, Mermaids
I really wasn't sure what I'd make of this book; I've thought for a while it would be cool to read about mermaids, but I worried that it could all go so wrong and turn into a Disney's Little Mermaid rip off. Happily, that didn't happen with Florence, and I was sucked into an exciting new world.
Florence is an outsider at school, and in life generally. Her father died when she was young, leaving her a burden to those who would sooner she wasn't there. She has virtually no friends and all in all, it isn't too much of a shame to her when she is kidnapped from a field trip to the beach by a merman. He takes her to Niemala; an underwater kingdom where mermaids and mermen of all different colors commune with nature and live a peaceable life. Florence is to become a familiar for the crown prince Kiren, much to the initial disgust of his brother, Rolan.
From the start I felt that Rolan was the more interesting of the brothers. His disdain was more intriguing than Kiren's flirtatious overtures to Florence. Both are described as being superior in looks and physique. Florence is captivated by Kiren though, and for some time she fails to notice his ulterior motives. All the while, she finds out more of Rolan in tiny snippets which frustrate her. Why is he so against her? Why does he save her from danger? Why did he reject the succession rights to the crown? At the same time, she makes friends with the sister of both Kiren and Rolan, Yolee. She is a delightful character - very innocent and trusting - and she helps Florence settle into life in Niemala. Florence discovers more about herself and her abilities under the sea while she tries to find a place to belong, and I did really enjoy reading those developments, at the same time as trying to figure out Kiren and Rolan.
The underwater kingdom was described in loving detail, and I feel sure that the author must be a keen diver as the descriptions were really outstanding... I could vividly picture the places and creatures. However, I needed a little more focus and direction from the plot in the first half to keep me keen... but as Kiren's motivations became clearer, the pace picked up and I found myself turning the pages with increasing speed. I thought the last quarter of the book was really gripping. I think there is definitely room for a follow up to the story, and I would be pleased to read that in the future. This is a mermaid tale which has legs!!
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.