First of all I would like to thank Diana Lanham for sending me this book for review. House of Aegea (pronounced uh-jee-uh) is a story about mermaids and ancient families interconnected by a set of secrets, mysteries and histories. Each chapter aroused curiosity in me, though I read it at quite a leisurely pace.
The summary on the back cover: The summary is detailed enough to generate interest, but brief enough to make the readers curious to know more about the Dauphine. However, the three words “Sex. Violence. Mermaids.” right at the top could’ve been avoided. It tries to make the book fit into a genre whereas the story directs it elsewhere.
The characters: One flaw I noticed is there are simply too many characters in this book. Some roles could’ve been rolled into one, because at times, the reader loses track of who’s who when too many roles are brief and seem very similar to each other. Another thing is, while this is a fantasy novel, nearly all seemingly-human characters turn out to be mermaids/swans/guardians etc. For example, of all the people Delphine could’ve fallen for in the wide world, it had to be Max – from a “guardian” family. Another thing (this is just my opinion – can be totally discarded): Dolphins are really tame in our heads. So the mermaids having dolphin blood in them doesn’t give them the whole wild dangerous feel. On the other hand, readers probably wouldn’t empathize with sharks. Perhaps a totally fictional sea creature? Again, this is just a thought I had.
The technique/layout: The chapter called “The Beginning of Things” is a fictional retelling of the Ramayana, with a lot of the same characters, but a more merciful and happy ending. It’s great that from the premise of an existing epic, a whole other story set in present has been written. It’s the story of how the creatures came to into being. Traditionally, a chapter of this sort is written as a prologue and in this case too, that may have been better, instead of having it as Chapter 1.
Another thing is the POV of the characters. In some of the chapters, while it may start as (say,) Delphine’s POV, it might midway turn to Asherah’s. I noticed this in a couple of places. Delphine and Asherah were just examples. In certain other places, the chapter’s name might be the character whose POV it’s written from, but the chapter would be a straight narrative.
The descriptions used in this book over-emphasize beauty. While that’s fine, the order of words may be reconsidered. For example, instead of saying “She was dressed beautifully. It was a blue gown.” It would have been better if the author had described how the gown looked in a way that the reader would feel it’s beautiful without being told it is so. Remember the rule, “Show, don’t tell.” Assume you say the gown is beautiful, but the reader does not like the color blue that’s mentioned in the next line.
Similarly, the chapter about Griffin’s capture – study the sentence, “It was a usual bloodbath.” But the description wasn’t all that violent. As a reader, I did not imagine a lot of blood or gore. The sentence itself could’ve been “It was a usual luncheon.” as that’s the descriptive potential it had.
The Back Stories: Every character has a history in the book. While that’s good and it helps us understand things, it could’ve been written in a slightly different manner. Instead of having the characters speak about their histories (Asherah, Lady Siobhan, Alec etc) the author could’ve broken the chapter there and told the story as a POV narrative, rather than as a dialogue. Just a thought, but felt the layout would’ve been better this way.
It’s a great subject matter that the author has dealt with. As I said in the beginning, it did leave me intrigued about what was gonna happen next. However, I do feel a little bit of touches here and there might make it even better!
My favorite quotes:
“But destiny is a very peculiar thing, with a complex timing that is impossible to comprehend.”
“The universe maintained a balance, moving first one way and then the other in a forever equalizing of opposites.”
“Max realized that an explanation was no longer important. “I’m here because I love you,” he said simply.”
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My Goodreads review can be found here