Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mira Zamin - Daughter of the Sea

Daughter of the Sea
by Mira Zamin

Kindle Edition Available

Product Description (from Amazon)
Engaged against her will, Calista, a young Roman aristocrat, grapples with the annihilation of her world at the hands of her would-be husband. The violent aftermath uncovers a connection to the mythological land of Atlantis, shattering Calista’s conception of family, the gods—and herself.
Calista does not know why the sea sings in her veins—or why her parents have affianced her to the insidious Lord Avaritus. She watches, powerless, as he ruthlessly annihilates all she loves.

When Calista tries escape with the remnants of her family, a storm strikes their vessel and Calista is hurled overboard. She reemerges in Atlantis, summoned by the leaders of the undersea domain. The very fiber of her identity shudders after she learns that she is the daughter of Neptune—and not quite mortal.

Despite the manipulation of Atlantis’s leaders and the romantic temptations of a pair of smirking grey eyes, Calista must find a way to return to Portus Tarrus to rescue her family and seek revenge against the man who destroyed everything she held dear.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Rachel
Sometimes, I read a “description” of a book and it tells me nothing, not even enough to begin to guess at what a juicy story might be hidden in the pages I’m examining.

     Other times, the description only describes the first chapter or one sub plot, and has so little to do with the book, as to be nearly useless.
     Especially with Kindle books, I want a good description of a story before I start to read it, to know if this is a book that I would find interesting ... because I can’t leaf through a Kindle and skim the pages for snatches of a story, nor can I skip.
     But the product description above gives an excellent overview of the basic plot without giving away any spoilers or the meat of the story. Oh yes, there is so much more to this book than the description tells, but I cannot write up a basic plot any better than the one given.
     Daughter of the Sea was an amazingly easy book to get into and enjoy. Calista is a likable girl, especially in the tenderness she exhibits toward her family. Her only fault is that she has not allowed her father to find her a husband, and to her dismay, her father is enticed by a strange man to forcer her hand in marriage. Calista doesn’t trust him, and finds him repulsive, not just because of his age, but also his mannerisms and the looks he gives her when her parents are not aware.
     To complicate matters, she meets a ship captain to whom she feels an instant connection. She asks him to do a small favor for her, and they are caught talking together.
      The story is set in ancient Rome, a world power for many years, but its hold on the world is beginning to loosen. Calista’s father is an overseer in a remote area along the sea coast among the Gauls. He is very prominent there, and rules with an easy hand and a light touch. There has been no reason for blood shed in many years. The picture of Roman life was well “painted” in the early chapters. For over half of the book, I found it difficult to not pick up my Kindle to read more.
     And then the story moved to Atlantis. And there the magic nearly died. The new characters never developed any depth, the actions were choppy, and the plot became somewhat dull. It was almost as if a new author had stepped up to write. It wasn’t all bad; there were some very interesting conversations, and at least one great character. Calista had to face who she really was, and maybe the picture wasn’t all she (or the reader) hoped it would be. She has a destiny ... that she refuses to embrace it.
     After drudging on through yet another harrowing escape, the book shifts to a village in Gaul. Calista’s primary goal is to find what is left of her family, and have revenge on the man who tore her world apart. I was hopeful for a resurgence of the brilliance shown in the first part of the book, but somehow it just wasn’t as strong as the first part of the book.
     The story covers many dark topics – death, betrayal, rape, slavery, prison life, and incest. While none of these topics are dwelt on to their fullest, they are important parts in this story. How Calista and her family deal with these obstacles are the meat to this story. The first half of the book is amazing and many teens will enjoy the Atlantis and Gaul parts of the story as well.

Reflecting on the book, I think the real issue most people have with the Atlantis scenes are how much Calista changes because of what she has gone through – she begins to exhibit many unlikable traits as she allows hatred for the man who was to be her husband to warp and twist her sweet character into something almost sinister. It is so easy to be supportive and encouraging to Calista as you read, your heart pounds as she attempts to help her family escape and as she narrowly escapes horrific events time and again. But this new Calista is hard to support or encourage. While the author was clearly trying to paint a picture of a girl desperate to aid her family in the world above, what oozed out around the edges whispered “spoiled brat.” I think it is this change in Calista that douses the magic fire feeding the imagination that the first part of the story held.
     As I could find nothing about this author, nor has she included a website or blog as is so popular these days, I cannot conjecture on her age or background. The book ends fairly abruptly, so a sequel may appear in the future.
      If you read a story to be entertained, you will probably be disappointed, unless you are a fan of tragedies. But if you want to be challenged, this book does provide much fuel for thought. What would YOU do if you found yourself faced with the same or similar hardships, if everything you held dear was stolen from you and you were forced to watch others enjoying and abusing the things (and people) that you love? How far would you go to escape? How brave would you be to face the unknown and the unthinkable? Would you throw away a life of ease to return to help those that still suffer? Would you put thousands in danger for a handful of lives that you hold dear?

Genre/Theme: History, Romans, Adventure, almost Coming of Age
Reading Level: (by appropriateness) TEEN - middle school to Mature TEEN - high school to college
Profanity: (by amount in text) Rare ... but MODERATE - mild words & a few stronger expletives
Sexuality: (by content) Mostly MILD - descriptions of affection/desire (eyes, lingering touches, feeling of passion washes over) to OBVIOUS - blatant sexuality in text, but not explicit (mostly involving Avaritus’s behavior – attempted rape, descriptions are minimal)
There is a great deal of violence in this story. A usurper attacks the city and much blood shed is detailed in one chapter – it’s not horribly graphic, the “he held up his shield to defend himself, but found he was still staring at the face of his attacker, his shield missing from the stump of his arm” type descriptions. Calista kills a man.
Details of the life of imprisonment of Calista and her family, and the lewd attempts of Avaritus to secure his claim through a marriage bond, even if forced or coerced.
An explosion in Atlantis and the damage it caused.

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