Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on January 25, 2018
Back when I first started reviewing books on my blog, I reviewed the first two books in Katie O’Sullivan’s Son of a Mermaid series. I’ve searched for other YA mermaid series to see the similarities and differences from my own. Diving into very different mermaid worlds and mythologies has been an interesting experience, especially when I find stories I enjoy.

In 2015, I read Son of a Mermaid—since rebranded as Descent—and its sequel Defiance. Though it has been more than two years since I read the sequel, I noticed that the third book, Deception, was released last month. Then I was happy to receive a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The events of this book take immediately following of the second book. Our main characters—mermaid prince Shea McNamara, his mermaid girlfriend Kae (whose family is in service to Shea’s royal family), powerful and conflicted sorcerer Zan, and Shea’s Cape Cod neighbor Hailey—are all in the Aegean Sea area, particularly around Santorini Island in Greece. Most of the initial action occurs underwater in Atlantis, where Prince Demyan is on trial for the crimes he committed in the previous books, before interconnecting them with events on land.

The trial’s not going very well. Shea’s mother the Queen is away, so a key witness is missing. Also, Demyan has one heck of a defense lawyer in the Lord Magistrate, getting him off on some of the charges due to technicalities.

Meanwhile, Shea and Kae’s relationship isn’t going very well. There’s a serious class system in O’Sullivan’s mermaid world, and royalty like Shea isn’t expected or encouraged to enter into romantic relationships with the working class—especially those who work for the royalty—like Kae. This creates some tension between them, and some jealousy as many of the upper class teen mermaids would love the chance to date Shea.

Oh, and Kae has an interesting connection with Zan, due to the circumstances of him saving her life in the previous book. Now, she’s regularly visiting him in jail before he testifies in the trial. Ultimately when Shea finds out, needless to say, he feels a little betrayed and jealous.

And then there’s Hailey, who also had to be rescued and saved from the plane crash in the previous book. She harbored a secret crush on Shea, and… That’s where I’ll end with plot details. I keep my reviews spoiler-free. Instead, I’ll go into what I enjoyed about the book and what didn’t work for me.

It was fun to catch up with these characters after such a long time. Even though these events occur immediately following the previous book, for the most part, the characters have matured. I love when I can see growth in characters across a series. They take accountability for their actions, even regretful accountability in the case of Zan, making their fantasy natures seems more real. In these terms, Zan is once again the standout character for me—he’s got a complexity, especially as he ponders the extent to which he had been manipulated by Demyan and learns that not all relationships have to be that way.

I also liked some of the plot reveals, especially those concerning new character Professor Marcus. His introduction was perhaps the most chilling sequence in the book, and every scene with him was fresh, even when they contained a lot of background information.

Given the title of the book, it’s no surprise that there were many instances of deception, and I appreciated the variety of motives—malicious and protective—involved. However, there was a little too much of it that it surprised me less and less when many of the later secrets in the book were revealed. Also, as some of the individual deceptions led to complications in the ever-growing love polygon (more sides/corners than a triangle), the characters’ individual jealousies and internal questioning about each other’s feelings became repetitive for me.

This is much more of a character-driven book than I remember the previous parts to be. I remembered Defiance (part two) to have more action. In this part, there was a lot of talking—at the trial, discovering information, revealing secrets, and developing a plan—so much that the characters talking had more impact than them doing things.

The overarching conflicts of the two previous parts are resolved within those books, but here, it seems that any final confrontation or resolution is going to happen in the next part. I hope it won’t be as long a wait to part four as it was since part two, as I’m curious to see how all the plot threads play out. Until then, I give Deception FOUR STARS.
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