Author: Ciye Cho
Publication date: November 28, 2012
Rating: 4.5 stars
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Being the only human in a world of merfolk... isn't easy. Florence Waverley chose to stay in Niemela, but things have gone awry. Secrets have risen and the prince she cares about has pulled away. All the while, dark dreams warn her of a tragedy that only she can stop. But in order to save the merman she loves, Florence will have to enter the Life Path tournament: a brutal test of fear and madness.
The tournament is a rite of passage--a maze where young mermaids and mermen battle to find their purpose. It is also a place where Florence will face grave danger: mermaids with evil magic, tunnels filled with sea fire, and guardians who wish to use her as a pawn in their secret plans. But will Florence be strong enough to survive the tournament... or will she perish inside it?
Everything hangs in the balance: her life, her world, and her love.
The great thing about a sequel novel- if done right- is that all the basic introduction stuff is out of the way and you can get into the really good stuff: the action. This was the case with Luminaire.
I really really enjoyed Florence, the first book in the series. In fact, it may even be my favorite mermaid book. Luminaire, on the other hand, kind of blew me away with its sheer awesomeness. The story continues with Florence deciding to stay in Niemela and, in an effort to find her place in the mer society while simultaneously helping out Princess Yolee, she enters the Life Path tournament (read as "giant maze filled with lots of dangerous stuff"). This tournament is a big deal. Huge. Whether or not a Niemelan comes out of the maze determines their role in the kingdom. Oh, and there's also the possibility that they just don't make it out at all...
Anyways. Loved the maze. So much action and fighting and craftiness happens in the maze (and I suspect I'm just a total sucker for anything that's set in maze).Through the ordeal, Florence really grew as a character. She's no longer the awkward outsider in Niemela- she literally battles for a place in this world she has come to consider home. Florence is a pretty quiet character, a bit of a wallflower, but always with a silent strength hidden away in her. I thought I had seen the extent of that strength in the first book, but only after reading Luminaire did I realize that what I saw was only a fraction of what Florence had in her.
Rolan's character had me a bit peeved because he acted so standoff-ish and cold towards Florence in the beginning. But no worries, by the end of the book, he more than redeemed himself. I would tell you guys how but I wouldn't want to spoil any of the good stuff for you. ;)
In addition to Florence and Rolan, a few new characters are introduced in this book as allies and foes. I am usually picky about characters who make their grand debut later in a series, but I ended up loving them (not the bad guys, obviously). Marilenna and Wynn were my favorites; they made the character dynamics and plot much more interesting. Plus there's definitely some chemistry between the two of them and I'm dying to see more!
The plot was a tad slow at first, but once the tournament was set in motion, I was completely hooked. Yet even amidst a fast-moving plot, the author is able to interweave beautiful descriptions of another facet of the underwater world. The imagery is vivid and colorful and a bit magical.... while also managing to be somewhat creepy at times.
All in all:
If you loved Florence then I highly recommend reading Luminaire because everything that was wonderful about the first book has basically been elevated. The ending, which is a bit of a cliffhanger, promises much more intrigue to come in the next book and I cannot wait.