I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The second installment in the World of Aluvia takes place 4 years after “Fairy Keeper” and focuses on Phoebe Quinn, the younger sister of “Fairy Keeper’s” main character, Sierra Quinn. As the story opens, Phoebe has largely recovered from the ordeal she underwent in the previous book, but not entirely, and has found a great deal of comfort hanging out under the sea with her Mer friends, Tristan and his twin sister Mina. While Sierra is off traveling, she has asked Phoebe to stay close to home and not go to the sea, but being 14 and lonely, Phoebe goes anyway. Her defiance nearly gets her into serious trouble, however, and her only escape is to go with her friends to their village under the sea – a town filled with Merfolk who aren’t too fond of humans and, unbeknownst to them, about to face an ancient threat that has recently re-emerged.
Unlike “Fairy Keeper,” “Mer-Charmer” doesn’t involve a small group undertaking a quest to far-away lands in search of something, which gives the book a faster pace and the action seems more relevant to the actual goal than the various hazards a questing group can run into, and it made for nice contrast with the first story. Bearce has created a well-developed culture for the Merfolk as well as a history that explains why they tend to be wary of humans – even a human like Phoebe who clearly only wants to help.
I really enjoyed this book and read it pretty much in a single sitting. Bearce provides clear descriptions of the underwater world she’s created and I felt like I could see the Merfolk, their village and the events taking place there. Phoebe, Tristan, and Mina are very likable characters, and the friendship they share is portrayed strongly enough to justify the risks they’re willing to take for each other.
All-in-all, “Mer-Charmer” is definitely a worthwhile read.