Score: 94/100 (9.4 out of 10)
Mysteries of the Mist is an absolutely breathtaking and phenomenal book in one regard: it features some of the best illustrations to ever come through our contest!
Seriously, the second we flipped to page one and met the stunningly gorgeous yet down-to-earth Coralee, we knew we were in for a treat for the eyes! Coralee looks like a cross between Evangeline Lilly in her prime and the girl next door, complete with brunette hair, tanned skin, and emerald-green eyes.
And it's not just Coralee's beauty that impressed us, it was how detailed the other characters and the backgrounds are. You can see the ripples in the water going off into the distance. You can see the layers of paint that grandpa is covering the lighthouse with.
The numerous mermaids in this book are arguably even more impressive and stunning than Coralee is! The scales on their tales literally glisten on the page.
There's a particular illustration of Kleenah and Mist, the two main mermaids, in which you can literally see the coral reef coming up into the foreground. It's spectacular!
The story is rather simple and par for the course of mermaid books (and we've read our share of mermaid books recently). An adventurous 18+ year old girl named Coralee is warned by her seafaring grandfather to respect and be careful of the ocean, since it is a great power filled with many mysteries and unknowns. Coralee, however, still wants to get close enough to the ocean to see and paint the sunset. However, she comes upon a creature that she initially thinks is a baby seal caught in the rocks. It turns out to be a young female mermaid named Mist. Rather than running away screaming at the top of her lungs like a normal person would, Coralee goes up and helps Mist to return safely to the sea.
It turns out that Mist is in a similar predicament as Coralee: she'd been warned by her mother, the goddess of the sea, to not go to the surface where the humans live. However, her curiosity got the better of her. As gratitude for saving Mist, her mother gives Coralee a gift: a stone with which she can call upon the aid of the mermaids when she needs it. Strangely, this gift is a double-edged sword. Cooked up into the magic is a clause: Coralee cannot tell anyone that she saw a mermaid or knows they exist or she will straight up DIE. So, yes, Kleenah allowing Coralee to have this kinda makes sense. It's life insurance. It's a security deposit to protect the mermaids.
So, as you might expect, Coralee is forced to call upon the mermaids when the wicked Sirens stir up some storms that threaten the life and safety of her grandpa. The Sirens are constantly teased as being an ominous group of mermaid-like creatures who both tarnish the reputations of the real mermaids and hurt humans. In the end, Cronus (who is the king of the ocean instead of the king of the Titans for some reason), puts an end to their mischief by turning them all into Mola Mola fish, which is simultaneously funny and a little disturbing. We didn't expect to have Mola Mola fish be in this book! That was new. However, the progression and eventually ending of the plot felt a bit rushed. Like, the Sirens were mentioned, but it didn't seem like their backstories and motivations had been well established. We don't even remember if any of them had a name or a defining characteristic other than being wicked.
The paragraphs in this book are also missing indentations for some reason. However, it's not the biggest deal.
This is such a visual marvel of a book!
Check it out on Amazon!