The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova Review

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Title: The Vicious Deep
Author: Zoraida Córdova (Twitter)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: May 1, 2012
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Pages: 372
Source: Publisher

For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave. He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.

His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he's heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he's suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.

Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea...and now it wants him back.
I've contemplated reading this series for a good long while now, but I'm always hesitant to start series without the rest of the books being out or imminent. Thus, with the third installment soon to be released in July, I figured it was high time to start reading The Vicious Deep and see what all the magic is regarding this underwater world that author, Zoraida Córdova, has created for us. It's been a long time since I've read a story with mermaids or mermen, and I'm always looking for stories that give readers a bit more angst, darkness and novels that are willing to raise the stakes. Reading the synopsis for this definitely promised us all that and more.

In theory, The Vicious Deep had everything working in it's favour. Ms. Córdova is an excellent writer, and she paints a picture that's vivid, entertaining and, at times, hilarious. I love the wit and charm that she interjected into Tristan's character, giving him both depth and a realistic teenage human male persona. It made him that much more tangible in what would have otherwise been intangible circumstances. That said, however, I suppose I expected the stakes within this novel to be a bit higher and more gruesome. With mentions of "razor-sharp teeth" in the premise alone, I was looking for the novel to spin us into a darker and, I'll admit, slightly more vicious world. I also found her use of present tense for the novel to be both a strength and a weakness at times. While it added urgency to the plot, it also made everything immediate and in the here-and-now, which made backstory a little less prevalent.

There were elements of The Vicious Deep that rang true though, and that I loved. In large part, Layla's character was just as strong as Tristan's. I never really felt as though she lacked the depth of an important character, and I really appreciated the fact that she was strong in her own right. Furthermore, this is one of those few novels in which the parents actually play a role, which is often a huge qualm with me. It was nice to see the author embrace the reality of teenage life - even in a fantasy setting. As the stakes are raised in the story though, I wanted to see more of Tristan's evolution, and I wanted to see him embrace and harness a power that was deep within him. Yet, armed with a magical dagger, he's thrust into melee with little to no training, and an attitude that belied his heroism.

Overall, despite a few hiccups along the way, I thought that The Vicious Deep was a strong start to a new series. I'm hoping to see that the plot holes and flaws are resolved along the way, and I'd really like to see the stakes raised with more drama in the future. I must also admit that the cliffhanger at the end of this book is a doozy, and it definitely left me less than impressed - until I remembered I have the sequel in hand. I give this book a 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal and mermaid stories.

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. I read this one a while ago Melissa, but I remember having similar thoughts about it. I liked it overall, but there were a few small things for me that kept it from a higher rating. I never did make it to the sequel, so I'm really curious to see what you'll think of it! Maybe I'll need to go back and give it a try:)

  2. I liked this one but I didn't love it. I don't really think mermaids/merfolk are for me. I'm always wondering how they drink, if they just pee anywhere (you know, water and all), how they have sex (because torso = human but the rest if fish. How does that work?!?)'s very distracting when I'm trying to enjoy a story.

  3. Sounds like a promising start to the series. I've seen mixed reviews for this one and sea creature stories rarely work with me so I hadn't planned on picking it up. I would definitely be ticked about the cliffhanger if I didn't have the next book in hand. Good for you that you waited! Wonderful review, Melissa. :)

  4. This looks like an interesting read, but I tend to struggle with water creature books for some reason. They are the only paranormal creatures I can't seem to tolerate.
    The writing in this book sounds gorgeous though and I like the sound of the characters. It's a shame about some of the hiccups along the way though.
    I'm glad you enjoyed it overall, Melissa. Lovely review!


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