The Waterfire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly

Magic depended on so many things – the depth of one’s gift, experience, dedication, the position of the moon, the rhythm of the tides, the proximity of whales. It didn’t settle until one was fully grown; Serafina knew that. But she needed it to be with her now, and she prayed to the gods that it would be.

Taking a deep breath, she pulled on everything strong and sure inside of her, and started to sing.

Whales? Well, why not, it’s all explained in The Waterfire Saga, an absorbing four-book YA fantasy series about…mermaids. My exploration of the YA genre continues, and after some searching for something else about mermaids, I stumbled on Deep Blue, Rogue Wave, Dark Tide and Sea Spell. Serafina, Neela, Becca, Ava, Ling and Astrid are thrown together by adversity and destiny, and while a mission of global proportions awaits our heroines, discoveries about life, love and friendship are plentiful along the way. The usual, but always interesting components of the genre.

Clear-cut language and a lot of drawing from the richness of world history, folklore and linguistics make this an appealing read to all of us who had literature courses during our studies. We recognize origins of names, titles, countries, and the additional logic behind this is clearly presented in the novels. While these layers and background often rooted in humanities make the reading experience all the more enjoyable for those of us outside the target audience, they do not overload the reading process for a younger reader. I remember my reading times from a younger age very clearly and I am sure I would have enjoyed this series just as much as I did now, albeit with different accompanying thoughts.

Each heroine lives, breathes and swims right off the page and in to my imagination, going through identity struggles and the pains of self-discovery. The appeal of the series also lies in the fact that the end goal of this particular story, while dealing with romance, themes of home and family, longing, wanting more than what life turns out to be, does not revolve around the mermaids wanting to escape their world. In fact, not only is the warmth and energy of their patriotism palpable, so is the respect and focus with which the author includes descriptions of the seas and its creatures. This warmth and empathy extend to the depiction of one of the central themes of the novels – the strength of friendships.

How could she explain to them what her swashbuckler clothes meant to her? When she looked at them, she didn’t see frays and tears, she saw Sera and Ling eating stew in Lena’s kitchen after Ling had almost been captured by Rafe Mfeme. She saw Becca and Ava in the River Olt, fighting off the rusalka. She saw fierce Astrid battling Abbadon in the Incantarium with only her sword.

And she saw herself – being braver and stronger than she’d ever thought she could be.

The Waterfire Saga shows mermaids who are self-aware, intelligent, vulnerable, loyal and resilient. They are relatable, and if a younger friend or relative of mine was reading this series, I would not be worried about the ideas they might be getting.

Becca was not only good at making things, she was good at making things better. Life in foster homes had taught her that if she waited for someone else to make things better, she’d be waiting a very long time.

Well plotted, well written, well researched and probably created with a lot of enjoyment.

 

 

 

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Beauty and the Beast Teaser Trailer

“For who could ever learn to love a beast?”

As far as I’m concerned, the feverish anticipation phase of waiting for Disney’s further upcoming live-action remake of well-known and well-watched animated classic Beauty and the Beast has officially begun. And it began for me the moment I read yesterday that the teaser trailer for the movie was out. A glimpse it is, but oh, what a glimpse!

As far as teaser trailers go, it is gorgeous. A hint of stunning, sweeping cinematography, and doesn’t that castle in the beginning, with the snow swirling around it, remind you just a bit of scenes with Hogwarts in the winter time in the Harry Potter films? I don’t mind at all. And then the sounds from the piano keys one knows so well from the opening score of the soundtrack begin to weave around the images, and my heart almost skips a beat. Such a illuminating blend of the sure-to-come drama, the sadness in the sleeping grandeur of the castle and Belle’s mix of curiousity and caution as she steps inside.

Nothing will ever be the same!

To say I’m looking forward to this is an understatement. To say I’m wildly curious myself doesn’t begin to describe my feelings. One thing is for sure – Emma Watson is one of her generation’s best actresses to portray a young woman with “her nose stuck in a book”, and she is certainly well on her way to creating memorable film portrayals of iconic characters. She can also hold her own with acting based on material that has won millions of fans the world over and continues to endure through time. Playing Hermione, and now Belle, is more than enough pressure. But Hermione is firmly established as a character in her own right, and I hope the same will be true for this new Belle. Emma Watson’s own attentiveness and intelligence will hopefully contribute in the best way to put her own stamp on Belle, yet keep the essential qualities which make Belle who she is.

Remembering Dan Steven’s piercing blue eyes and wonderful diction in Downton Abbey, I also have high hopes for the Beast, aka Prince Adam.

To be released in spring 2017…