Waterfire Saga: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

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Waterfire Saga: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Undersea fantasy with diverse characters and thoughtful worldbuilding. There may be too much exposition for some.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1444921185

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Four thousand years after Orfeo defected as one of the six magical leaders of Atlantis, created the most evil of monsters, and the island sank below the sea, Serafina is preparing for a ceremony that will confirm her as the heir to a Mer realm. Sera will sing a songspell to her people and become betrothed to the prince of another Mer realm. But Sera is plagued by a strange dream, in which witches of Mer legend warn her of terrible danger to come. And when her friend Neela arrives for the occasion, she confesses that she has had the same dream.

And, during the ceremony, Sera's dark premonitions come all too true. With the Mer realms under attack, Sera and Neela must make their way through treacherous waters. Their mission is to save the undersea world from its greatest ever threat: Orfeo's monster, now on the verge of escape from its watery prison.

I enjoyed Deep Blue but I like anything about mer people and anything set under the ocean. Donnelly has given her world an awful lot of thought and she has built a credible society, complete with history, myth, religion and complex politics. She's also thought a great deal about the daily bread and butter of mer life and the book is suffused with those tiny little details that really make her setting come to life on the page. I liked the odd joke too - mer money is called currensea, for example. This detailed, coherent worldbuilding has also been used to feed into the plot, itself seemingly a straightforward tale of good versus evil but buttressed with an equally well thought through structure.

I liked the characters, too. Of our six mermaid heroines, Serafina and Neela stand out the most in this first volume. Serafina is full of duty and responsibility and she takes her royal role very seriously indeed. She is determined to fulfil her destiny and I think she will act as the conscience of the group. Neela is much more impulsive - both affectionate and sassy, she will provide a foil for Serafina's gravitas.

However, I do have some reservations about Deep Blue. Pace is sacrificed to exposition. And sometimes, so is dialogue. There are just too many chapters that comprise of little more than info dumps and, much as I hate to say it, there are times when this is quite a bore and it's an effort to turn the page. I'm also slightly at a loss to suggest a target audience. Some of the plotlines and themes are a little mature for a middle grade readership but everything else places it as a little immature for the YA crowd. Deep Blue certainly isn't a story that would hold the attention of adults who enjoy good YA fiction. This saga is partnership with Disney for Donnelly and it may be that this is muddying the waters a little bit? I don't know. Anyway, if pushed, I would suggest Deep Blue will suit readers of at least 11 or 12 but only up to 14 or 15.

So, a cautious recommendation from me: Deep Blue is a story for readers who enjoy intricate worldbuilding, love the idea of merfolk, and aren't expecting anything too gritty.

Our favourite ever series about mer people is Ingo by Helen Dunmore. If you also enjoy dystopian fiction and like reading stories set under the sea, you might like Dark Life by Kat Falls.

Buy Waterfire Saga: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Waterfire Saga: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Waterfire Saga: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Waterfire Saga: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly at Amazon.com.


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