I first received the request to review this book back on June 13th, so I would like to apologize first for taking me this long to make a review to this wonderful work of Ciye Cho.
Florence is a YA Fantasy Romance novel published in July 1st of this year. This is the excerpt:
Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and brought down to Niemela–the hidden world of mermaids and mermen–Florence is the ultimate gift for Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of the dark ocean.
Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand–and find out where she belongs–Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart… and her very soul.
I think I’ve said it before, but I’ve never really been a fan of mermaid stories. Having said that, it’s still really surprising how these mermaid stories surprise me whenever I read them. Florence, on the other hand, really got my interest the very moment I received the request from Ciye, because: a) I love the characters’ names; b) the synopsis given to me by Ciye is nicely laid out and gives me too much to think of but not really giving anything away; and c) it’s so great I think Ciye will be giving me a hard time to do this review and explain what I love about this book.
First and foremost, I love the individuality of the characters. Or, should I say, distinctiveness. Even the world of Niemela is beyond beautiful yet simple by the way it was described in the story. The words which were used just created their own images in my head, giving me clearer sense about the world Florence wants me to be in.
Also, these mermen/maids have their own lore than what I’ve read (or watched) in any other stories. I’m a big fan of RPG games and this story brings my “gamer” self out. The characters have a road to follow. They’re not just merfolks. Rather, they have tasks to do in Niemela, something which lacks in other mer stories. The clear detailing of the world and the characters which makes reading even more enjoyable.
Character-wise, Florence, if not immediately, almost eventually made me love her. It’s hard to like her at first, but she managed to make me love her gradually. This is how important the world of Niemela, because the only time she became a much more interesting character was when she reached the realm of the merfolks. Florence felt like she’s always hanging by a thread; an insecure girl. I believe that insecurity in a lead character has been used more than enough, and that prevents me from liking her at first. That being said, it is also a factor that I managed to like her, as it really emphasized the huge change in her character from the beginning to the middle, up to the end.
Other characters that I liked were Princess Yolee, Prince Kiren and Prince Yolan. But I think that’s given and a must since they are, along with Florence, the main characters of the book. The introduction of these three sets the bar high, because of having four different characters with different personalities. I think that added up more spices into the story. One was fun yet sweet, and the two men are like day and night. The more you read about them, the more you’ll realize that they are each other’s complete opposite. And the magic in Ciye’s writing came out when you’re expecting something from these two characters, yet they’d give you the unexpected.
I have read this book a month ago, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it up to its last page. I’m not the type who gives spoilers in book reviews, but this one really got me hooked. Even now that a month has passed and I can still remember the scenes in the book, which was made unforgettable by the magical writing of Ciye Cho.
Of course, this one’s not without a flaw. The plot may sound interesting, but there’s something lacking about it. I also felt like the characters could have gone a much more drastic change than what was given to me, and the actions could use just a little bit more of improvement. If ever there will be a sequel, I am all up to read it!
If you are a fan of mermaid stories, or not, I’m pretty sure you’ll absolutely love Florence!
4 out of 5 stars for this book!