Waterfell by Amalie Howard Review

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Title: Waterfell
Author: Amalie Howard (Twitter)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: October 29, 2013
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 360
Source: Publisher

Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright—the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon—until her father's betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa's upcoming birthday—the day she comes of age.

Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa's mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?
Mermaids are quite the rarity in young adult fiction, or so I've discovered in my 3+ years as a book blogger. And, when they are broached, so often we see the age-old tale of the Little Mermaid. Rarely do we see an author craft a story rich with mythology, backstory, danger and intrigue, but Amalie Howard has done exactly that with Waterfell. The novel gives us a new type of mer-creature; one that is so vastly different from the glimmering and beguiling sea folk we've come to expect from the few stories that present to us tales of mermaids. 

Nerissa, our heroine, is of the Aquarathi, a breed of underwater creatures that most might consider mermaids and men. However, her true form under the sea couldn't be further from the image that comes to mind. When Nerissa takes on her true form and claims her birthright, she becomes a sea serpent…and a massive one at that. The biggest strength of Waterfell was Ms. Howard's ability to paint such a vivid picture of this breed of paranormal creatures. Not only are we given the Aquarathi though, we're also given a distinct backstory that truly presents Nerissa's claim in the limelight for us.

Perhaps even better, when Waterfell describes the destruction that her kingdom endured, we see true evil. The author paints a world that's dark and menacing, but all the while haunting and alluring, all of which pulls us into this twisted underwater world. Written in a clear and distinct voice, there is a cold and articulated danger that we sense from page one, and it's easy to see why Nerissa has become so very self-sufficient, strong and independent.

Therein, however, lies my issue with the book. We are offered so very much with Waterfell. We are welcomed into a terrifyingly beautiful underwater world full of drama and strife. We have a fantastic heroine in whom to find hope and promise. And yet, we're offered a completely average love interest in Lo. While so much of the story is excels, and we're excited that this might just be the mermaid book to break the mold and make a strong case for this realm of the paranormal, Lo fell very flat. He was beautiful, and he somehow conquered Nerissa's steely exterior. Unfortunately, I felt that the romance was too much, and it overshadowed much of the positives of the novel, simply settling it to rest on its laurels.

Overall, Waterfell was a good book. It gives us a great premise and a vivid world, but it fell prey to the same fate that befalls so many books within the genre today. It could have done with less romance and more mystery, in my humble opinion. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal romance.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. Bummer about your blog losing its dot com. That's quite an annoyance.

    It's been awhile since I've read a mermaid story. Too bad the love interest wasn't great.

  2. While I love that the world is so beautifully drawn and there's so much potential, I'm sad that it doesn't live up to it -- darn that lackluster love interest, ruining the whole thing!

  3. I'm glad that you enjoyed this one, Melissa. I personally didn't enjoy it because of the romance and the main character not being a strong character, but I can see why you enjoyed it. I do agree about the romance taking a lot away from the plot. Plus, it didn't help that Lo was flat as a pancake.
    Lovely review, Melissa.

  4. Mermaid books have been a struggle for me in the past, and I've yet to fine one that has really blown me away. I'm bummed this doesn't quite seem to be that one either. I'm glad you thought Nerissa is such a strong heroine, but it's such a shame then that Lo doesn't match her strength of character. I think I'm going to pass on this one (though that cover does tempt me) and wait for one you give 4 stars and above. Lovely review as always though!

  5. This book sounds cool but I am just not a huge mermaid fan and I have read a lot of reviews that say it is just sort of meh. I don't see myself picking this one up in the near future. Great review.

  6. I've heard not so good things about this book but I'm glad you enjoyed it Melissa. The world building of the underwater world would be interesting, I'm still not sure about picking it up though. Great review!


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