With the return of spring comes Calder’s forced exodus from the Caribbean. He’s held out as long as he could, but now he must head northward to Lake Superior to rejoin his sisters. The warm southern waters are not the only thing Calder has held onto over the winter. He’s been denying himself a basic need for months, a basic need that is only quenched when someone loses their life.
Calder’s isn’t a vampire and blood isn’t what he takes when he kills. Instead, he’s a merman. In the world that Anne Greenwood Brown has created, mermaids need mermaids feed on human emotions. Happiness, joy, love–positive emotions draw mermaids like flames draw moths. The mermaids need to compensate for their natural emotional deficiency. They do this by dragging people under the water.
At the novel’s start, Calder hasn’t done this for five months. Part of Calder’s denial of his instincts is self-preservation. Too many deaths would look suspicious. Part of it is the thrill of denying his cravings. Whatever the cause, its left him on the edge of his control, volatile, at a time when he’s forced to return home through the bond he shares with his sisters.
Years earlier, Calder’s mermaid mother died because of a human. Now Calder’s sisters have tracked down the son of the man responsible and are planning their revenge. Who is the bait in their plan? Calder. They decide the easiest way to get at Jason is through his daughters. Calder’s excited, and not just for the opportunity for vengeance. If he pulls off his role, he will also win release from his mermaid family. To be alone in his head, free from the telepathic influence of his sisters is a sweet reward he’s wanted for years.
Calder spies on Jason’s two daughters, deciding the younger daughter is the one he must befriend and work on manipulating. Yet it is her older sister Lily that keeps capturing Calder’s attention during his forays onto land. (Greenwood Brown’s mermaids can painfully shift into two-legged form though the transition leaves Calder vulnerable and weak for dangerous moments afterward). To keep tabs on the Hancocks, Calder slips into the large group helping move the family into their house. He gets a job at the same little food place as Lily. He keeps himself close, to close to a family he’s never really had.
Caught between family bonds, revenge he’s been raised on since childhood and a crush he didn’t want, Calder has to learn what it is his heart wants as well as who he really is. At times cocky and arrogant, Calder is also confused and fragile by turns. I enjoyed the exploration of family and identity in this book. A piece of this was the second way mermaids could be created where they could shock a human within a heartbeat of death–reinvigoration. It was in such circumstances that then three-year-old Calder became a merman.
Withheld information, jealous sisters, danger and revelation made this a fun recreational YA fantasy read. I liked the sense of a monster fighting being a monster, especially as it was reluctant in places for Calder. I also liked that the ending was somewhat unresolved.
I read my copy courtesy of Netgalley.