90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
Song of the Sea by Meredith Burton is a fantastical novel with very Disney-esque vibes. It seems especially inspired by Disney's The Little Mermaid, although it also has nuances of Pocahontas and Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet as well.
As you can imagine with those comparisons, the book follows a coming-of-age mermaid named Aria who is caught in the middle of a conflict between feuding factions—the humans and the Mer people. Unlike in The Little Mermaid, Mer people aren't just mythical creatures, they're actually widely-known and accepted as real by the humans.
Due to the Treaty of Separation between King Agrippa (of the Mer people) and King Asa (of the humans), humans and Mer people cannot interact and inhabit the same spaces. They are segregated in a sense. It's quite tragic.
Not only does this take political affect, apparently it also has a magical aspect to it too. The two peoples are seemingly separated by some kind of blood-magic/blood oath so that they can never mix.
As you might expect, this all goes out the window when Princess Aria (a mermaid) rescues a human prince named Reginald from drowning in the midst of a freak storm at sea.
Reginald has recently suffered a tragedy, the death of his sister in a similar sea storm. Her funeral at sea—absent of a body—is one of the book's first heavy, emotional scenes.
The Romeo & Juliet-esque relationship between Aria and Reginald forms the crux of the story. However, they're not the only significant actors.
Two of the other central characters are Glissando, Aria's highly-esteemed suitor, and Barcarole, Reginald's loyal caretaker/servant.
Both of these characters are so much more than they initially seem. Let's start with Barcarole. When you first meet him, he's a very submissive, subservient person who is constantly checking on and catering to Reginald, so much so that Reginald becomes annoyed with him frequently. Barcarole, however, is more than a servant. He is actually family to Reginald—a prince in his own right (though further in the line of succession) and Reginald's uncle.
Glissando is also so much more than he initially seems. When you first meet him, he is incredibly kind, courteous, and proper. However, he has a darker side, as you might expect. He also has ulterior motives. Strangely, though he is a type of villain, he's not pure evil. In fact, he is more like a Shakespearean character—a tragic character. Glissando knows first-hand how horrible and cruel the humans can be. His family was personally affected by their evil. In a sense, Glissando is a victim of the tension between the two groups just as much as Aria and Reginald are.
Glissando is also the third person in the love-triangle with the main protagonists. What's fascinating is that there are times when he seems like a legitimate friend who cares about Aria, seemingly following her just to look after her despite his hatred and distrust for humans.
Even the fact that he wants to kill humans surprisingly doesn't come from a place of evil. He wants to do it because he wants to win the war. It's actually not that much different from an American soldier in World War II wanting to kill all of the opposing force.
In a lot of ways, Glissando is the most interesting character in the book. He is the one with the deepest backstory.
Through the story, we also learn more about both royal families. The backstory to King Omri is particularly interesting.
If you love mermaid tales, this is one that might whet your appetite.
Check it out on Amazon!