Rating: 8 out of 10.

I was given an ARC version of the second installment of The Pearl Wielder Trilogy by Hannah Reed, for an honest review. Essentia was published in 2020, as part 2 of the Pearl Wielder Trilogy which you can check out updates on Hannah’s Instagram page @Hannah.Reads!

Essentia, for me, was a really enjoyable read, with lots of intricacies surrounding politic, action, romance and mystery, but is aimed at a younger audience, I would say 8/9+ years of age. The theme is that of contemporary fantasy, exploring a fresh look on the world of mermaids, which is a nice idea and encourages the reader to keeping reading as there is a gap in the literary world in fantasy. Mermaids are not widely written about.

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So, let us see what I thought…

The book continued well enough from the first book: Tenebrasco and I, as the reader, understood what the main character was needing to accomplish in her mission: to save her people. The style in which Reed writes is contemporary, in order to better connect with her younger audience, but I noted that there were quite a few grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and punctuation errors. For an experienced reader this was difficult to overlook as every few pages there were one or two, which did stunt the flow of reading. This book would need a thorough look through from an editor, or professional 3rd party, as I am aware from an author interview with Reed that she edits her work herself, no menial task indeed. But this does show how important proper editing is.

Reed has conducted a lot of research into the nature element in this book, she lets the characters feel awe in the world of the sea, and shows respect for the power of the animals as well as their majesty and importance in the ‘circle of life’. Reed also creates her own ‘mermaid food’, where coral, sea anemone’s and sea cucumbers are used to create the mermaid version of: steak, salad, sandwiches. Indeed, most everything you can think of in the real world is translated over into the ‘mer’ world, which is fun to a younger audience. There were one or two ideas that seemed to not flow well in the mer-world: the use of clothing, blankets and other similar materials. Reed describes some of these as materials similar to cotton and wool, but then how could they be used under water all the time? They would eventually rot surely? This idea could be explored more in a prequel, as I wasn’t quite satisfied about the reality of this… of course we are still talking about mermaids here, but one could make this more realistic and readable by stating that the clothes are all made out of coral, fish skins or something that can only be attainable from the seabed. The idea of clothes above the water is approached and the mer-people seen to have special water tight lockers where human clothing is kept and the individual can get dressed in them before being released above the water, as well as vice versa.

When following Connor throughout the book, it really came to my mind that he is more of a puppet for his mother, right from the start I had a bad feeling about her sudden appearance back into his life. Especially with her trying to teach him about how she see things, which is a little distorted: Tenebrasco wielders need to be back on top, which would mean politically that April would have to give up her place on the throne. I wish he had a little foresight as to be able to see how this would upset April, if not the balance in her world. But Connor is so besotted with her, and overwhelmed by his mother turning up in his life that he doesn’t think straight, which of a young lad might be possible. When your heart is clouded it’s difficult to get the head straight.

The relationship that is shared between Ethan and Alex is a really nice love triangle, as the social expectation is that Princess April is Ethan’s love interest. After all, it is in the tabloids so it must be true! Ethan becomes gravely ill, through which Alex supports him, gets him nursed back to health and there is a little spark blossoming between them – which I like as it’s not thrust into the readers’ face and the main plotline isn’t drowned out by an unnecessary romance. I did worry about Ethan towards the end of the book, as there were a number of chapters before the end where he and his illness wasn’t mentioned – I fully expected him to die or something really bad to have happened to him when April came back to the palace and was actually putting measures in place so then I wouldn’t be completely crushed if this happened!

This leads me onto my next point: April’s journey to find herself. She travels across the seas to discover how to control her Tenebrasco powers as no one can teach her, and her powers appear to be taking her over and controlling her. We know from the first book: Tenebrasco, that if a Tenebrasco wielder goes through particular ‘changes’ in their early twenties their powers are uncontrollable and they need to find solace in a pearl cave to ground them and help them stay safe whilst their powers go haywire. It’s alike to puberty in humans, but with mer as their powers are intricately linked with their mental health and psyche.

Seeing the relationship between April and her sister Kayla disintegrate and then get built back up towards the end of the book was really nice. Kayla has her own struggles with her powers, and mental health, which I thought was relatable, even if she is the meritia leader she has times of weakness and ‘normal’ problems. Following on from this, I really enjoyed the political aspect of the story: Kayla needs to have a strong connection with her pearls and powers to be the meritia leader as this shows her people her strength. But she loses her powers after Tenebrasco and there is a struggle for power within the meritia. It adds realism to the story, we build up feelings for Kayla, of which I felt that she just needed a really strong coffee! I hope she regains her position, and fully her powers but I sense that in the next instalment Kayla may blame herself for April being ‘mer’ ‘napped!

One thing I did expect is that the American President to snatch April while her Tenebrasco powers were playing up so much – I wasn’t far off! I felt that when he experimented on her in Tenebrasco, and all his research about the pearls and mer was leading to this event… but it didn’t.

I shan’t ruin it more than that, if you’re interested you really should read Tenebrasco and Essentia! These books are not stand alone novels, you need to read them in order otherwise it’ll be too confusing and bits of the story will not make sense due to meeting characters in certain times and places as Essentia does reference back to these characters regularly!

Recommendation

Overall, it was an enjoyable read and would be a great choice for those who prefer to read young adult fantasy/fiction. While these books are fantasy by nature, they do cross over into the modern world with technology, gizmos and gadgets which was fun to read about! This book is fun to read, and appropriate for young readers who wish to immerse themselves into a relatable fantasy world. As mentioned previously, those who have a high reading level may not enjoy this as much as a younger audience.

Essentia Book 2 Pearl Wielder Trilogy Summary

Theme: This is a fantasy novel, a continuation from the first book: Tenebrasco. It follows the adventure of a mermaid princess and her journey to find out who she really is. Coming of age theme.

Description: The author tells the story through the 3rd person view to be able to explore all the characters’ feelings and thoughts.

Narration: The author continues this book from the first book in the series, the language is simple and consistent.

The Author

You can find out more about Hannah Reed here, she does lots of events and has a large fan base that she shares on her website. She also has a blog that is fun, interesting and engaging, as well as this fun stuff, you can see what she has for sale.

References

Hannah Reed’s Website: https://www.hannahreads.co.uk/the-pearl-wielder.

Hannah Baller’s Youtube: https://youtu.be/ZBIME_7tcWw