The merrow rule the sea. Slender creatures, fair of face, with silver scales and the graceful tails of angelfish. Caught in a Brid Clarion net, the daughter of the sea witch perishes in the sunlit air. Her fingers dangle above the swells.
The queen of the sea bares her sharp teeth and, in a fury of wind and waves, cleanses the brine of ships and men. But she spares a boy for his single act of kindness. Callum becomes the Ferryman, and until Brid Clarion pays its debt with royal blood, only his sails may cross the Deep.
Two warring nations, separated by the merrow’s trench, trade infant hostages in a commitment to peace. Now, the time has come for the heirs to return home. The Ferryman alone can undertake the exchange.
Yet, animosities are far from assuaged. While Brid Clarion’s islands bask in prosperity, Haf Killick, a floating city of derelict ships, rots and rusts and sinks into the reefs. Its ruler has other designs.
And the sea witch crafts dark bargains with all sides.
Callum is caught in the breach, with a long-held bargain of his own which, once discovered, will shatter this life.
With the author posting an occasional teaser from this book on her blog, I’ve been anticipating it for quite a while. It was absolutely worth the wait.
Having read several other books by this author, I knew it would be a treat to immerse myself in the world of the merrows and kingdoms of Brid Clarion and Haf Killick. Her lavish descriptions always make me feel like I’m experiencing everything right alongside the characters – the salt spray across my face while sailing the high seas, the rolling of the ship as it crosses the Deep, and the graceful beauty of the merrow. In spite of Callum’s attempt to save the life of the Sea Witch’s daughter, she dies. After killing the rest of the crew responsible for her death, the Sea Witch spares his life for his kindness. It’s a bargain he can’t refuse but considering what he’s forced to do, Callum may wish he perished with the crew. My heart went out to him immediately after he’s put in an incredibly difficult position. He has no choice other than to take a human life every time he crosses the Deep and spend his life caught between two warring nations unless he sacrifices royal blood.
The characters are wonderfully flawed and well-drawn. Some I had a love/hate relationship with, not knowing where their loyalties fell until nearly the end. They kept me guessing – which I totally enjoy.
Warring nations, deceit, lies – it’s impossible to trust either nation, but it soon becomes evident Callum has something precious worth saving and fighting for. Don’t assume you’ll accurately predict the path of this plot. Alexa read this to me from my Kindle, and I had to stop and immediately rewind (more than once!) to make sure I’d heard correctly when some astonishing twists spun the story in a different direction.
Exciting battles, long held secrets, treachery, and deadly bargains – this novel engaged me from the first page. The ending was everything I’d hoped for these characters. I can’t go without mentioning the incredibly beautiful cover. Easily five stars!