Hello readers, hope you’re all well and keeping safe? I’ve been keeping busy and have finished another book: Tenebrasco – Part 1 of the Pearl Wielder Trilogy by Hannah Reed. So here is the comprehensive review…
When the author informed me, that this was aimed at young adults and is about the world of mer-people, I instantly became excited. There is very little fantasy/fiction about these creatures and what they’re all about. One would think that in the ultimate land of fantasy: Harry Potter – this would be explored rather well. Most of the HP franchises magical creatures were talked and researched about, however, mermaids were not investigated as much, despite their unusual appearance in the fourth book. So yes, I got excited!
Let’s start at the beginning… ************SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!
The story sets with the main character as a mer-child, choosing her first pearls. ‘Mer’ as merpeople are called here, are imbued with magical powers, that different types of pearls can enhance, making them be able to control the weather, speak with different sea creatures and even to breathe and keep the sea warm. The Mer chooses these pearls at a young age… or rather, the pearls choose them, and they keep these pearls on their person, or ‘merson’ (bad joke) at all times.
The main character decorates her pearls onto a necklace, with other precious stones that she chose to decorate it with. I really like this, because the human perception of mermaids, is to see these creatures as hoarders of shiny things – they are the magpies of the sea. Except, in this book that idea of collecting beautiful objects has a real purpose and deep meaning.
We see the main character, April growing up, a tension builds up between her and her mother who is queen as she worries April has too much power. The reason for this is because April collected ALL the special pearls, which is rare, as some Mer only have a couple to wield. One of the rarer pearls is an onyx pearl called the Tenebrasco pearl, and no one knows this pearls power, but the story lets the reader know this is a potentially bad thing.
I like this initial tension that builds up right from the beginning, the Tenebrasco Pearl is made up of darkness, and the Pearl Shaman are afraid of it, causing April’s mother to be wary of her daughter. I appreciate the research that Reed has taken into creating this important pearl because the Latin of Tenebrasco means: To become dark – which is incredibly fitting! The mother-daughter relationship strain causes a little sadness for me because it sets the scene on April’s relationship with her mother, and April does regret this difficulty later on in the story.
The book goes on to explain that Mer and humans were trying to arrange a Peace Treaty, but a terrorist attack is carried out on this formal event, and the Mer are blamed. This is a really good way of being able to meet the characters at the beginning of the story. Reed lets the reader know about Mer lore throughout the book, which was interesting and supported the readers understanding of the history and politics of this new world.
April then goes on an adventure of being torn from her home in the sea, forced to stay on land and potentially a love plot between her and HUMANS!
As I read this book, I loved the way that items from the real world also exist in the Mer world, just in a slightly different manner. This makes it relatable for younger readers: humans use touchscreen tablets, Mer use ‘Iris’ Pads which are made out of the Mer’s pearl! I do think that fans could create fan-art from small, fun items such as the Iris Pad, creating art and stories about how it’s made and how it works. I get the feeling that the author really cares about showing us how Mer lives are similar and different to human lives and how it makes differences to their environment.
Speaking of environment, Reed beautifully describes scenes of coral reefs, dolphin pods and schools of fish which makes this world more real and tangible to the reader. We relate to all these creatures in the real world, so it’s a great way of keeping us aware of the environment. I know that when I next go to the beach, I will be thinking about how I can keep April’s sea and beaches pollution-free.
The book ended on a good note: it had action and the story line felt like it was so close to being resolved, but a spanner was thrown into the works, causing one of April’s group to be separated. I do wonder, how many different story lines are possible, this could be executed through fan-fiction, what will happen to April’s friend, will he betray her, will he be brainwashed, or will he develop his character to become a paladin of hope?
This is a really positive end but keeps the story open for the next instalment to come and fit everything together. I do think that I would have liked to have seen more character development of April’s friends. There were love connections with these characters and I look forward to the next book to see if this develops into a different conclusion, or if it carries onto that trajectory. I don’t know why, but I feel that the friend who is currently lost from the group could become the bad guy, and it would create a nice twist, with maybe forcing him or another character to sacrifice something they love? There are other characters, who pose less presence on the storyline, so I’ll be interested to read how they are relevant, other than being a support for the main character.
As I said – there are so many possible outcomes, I hope these are all finished and explored as we continue this trilogy, or even tided up as we read. I do hope Reed can create some external stories to polish off the storylines of characters who we meet. Potentially in a similar fashion to Stephanie Meyers who has written several additional books around her popular Twilight series. I think this would be great for Reed’s fanbase, as I have seen from her website she has a great fanbase who feel they can send in beautiful artwork.
I would love to see more of this support in the future of The Pearl Wielder Trilogy, as studies have shown the importance of fan-art for their own creativity and the culture of creation (Manifold, 2009).
Do take a gander at my other book reviews, to see how well they turned out, and should you wish to get hold of me to work with me, just click here. Please stay safe, keep checking my social media to help keep your lock-down spirits up, and I’ll see you soon in my next comprehensive review. I hope you enjoyed the Tenebrasco Book Review!
Manifold, M. (2009) ‘Fanart as craft and the creation of culture’. International Journal of Education, 5:1, pp. 7-21.