Waterfell By Amalie Howard ARC Publisher Review

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?

Nerissa is a junior, star of the Dover Preparatory field hockey team, orphan and princess to an underwater kingdom, a title she neither wants or cares for. Rissa has spent her life studying humans, and now she finds herself blending and living amongst them, the human's are none the wiser. She is the only living heir to her father's throne, the Gold Court. Once turning seventeen and coming of age, Riss is expected to rule the High Court, but after her father was murdered, her mother having passed when Nerissa was young, the High Court is now taken over by Ehmora, the tyrant ruler of the opposing Ruby Court. But Rissa isn't interested in the politics of Waterfell or the governing body, returning to her spiritual home or her royal duty.

The water calls to Rissa and her kindred,much in the same wat that it attracts surfer, and new boy at school Lotherius, or Lo as he is affectionately known. The Aquarathi don't usually tend to feel emotional connections with humans, and apart from Nissa's bond with best friend and human Jenna, so when she feels an instant connection with Lo, she believes it's due to being on the verge of Dvija. Dvija is the coming of age transition in which the Aquarathi find a mate, and bond with her own kind. But Lo is persistent, and little by little, she begins to experience the raw human emotion, love.

The only family Riss has now are her royal guardians, Echlios who is responsible for her physical development and his mate Soren, who will groom and prepare Riss as the royal High Court heir and their son Speio, who poses as her foster brother. Her time away from her kingdom is a chance to involve herself in ensuring the preservation of the ocean in which the Aquarathi call home, it isn't until she stumbles upon Ehmora, that she realises she is the only hope Waterfell has of becoming a fair and free kingdom again. But when Riss collapses at school, she has no option but to break the carnal rule of the Aquarathi, to tell human best friend Jenna who she really is. Surprisingly, Jenna not only will fiercely keep Rissa's secret, but she may proove to be a greater asset than Riss realised.

As Rissa's relationship develops with Lo, the two become inseparable, speaking long into the night. But Rissa realises that she knows nothing about the boy she seems to be falling for, but soon becomes one of the few people she can trust. Can she tell him what she really is? As her training begins, Rissa's father's warning has never been clearer, to never return to Waterfell, but how can she turn her back on her people, on those who showed their loyal support and trust of her father, a man who Ehmora murdered simply to take over the court. Ehmora wants Riss dead, the only living heir to the Kingdom and sends assassins after her, immersing them within Nissa's trusted allies.  But it seems that Ehmora has other plans, these aren't human assassin's and nor are they Aquarathi, they are a mixture of spliced DNA.

The new race of hybrids aren't bound to the Aquarathi laws and undetectable to their keen sense of kindred. Rissa didn't believe it was possible, for inter species breeding, being able to mate and reproduce with a human. Ehmora wants to dominate both land and water and is suspected to be creating a hybrid army. Just in time, as Nerissa suddenly comes into her own, the raw power and strength running through her waterborn being, the new queen has now come of age. 

But as she follows the trail hoping to find who has breached her trust, who is working with Ehmora within the network of those working against her, she realises that there are very few people she can trust. It won't be just one who has betrayed her and sometimes It's who you least expect could be working with the enemy. But are they really working towards Nerissa's demise?

Waterfell wasn't a tale of an underwater city, of pretty beings living amongst us, it's the struggle Rissa faces with accepting who she is and what is expected of her. Rissa is a sea monster known as an Aquarathi, born to another planet, but now her people have settled within the deepest parts of our oceans. It was a brilliant concept and the characters were not only engaging, but likable. The storyline was a mixture of what felt like a contemporary young adult, when Nissa struggles with her feelings of being an average teen girl on the verge of becoming a woman, her first crush, a loyal best friend, her overprotective foster brother and where her loyalties lie. I loved the relationship between Riss and best friend Jenna, that true friendship knows no bounds, even when one is another species altogether. 

The storyline does touch on sexual content, but keeping it within the confines appropriate for teen readers. It's well written and the plot twists will keep you on your toes. I'm now eagerly awaiting what Amalie has in store for the second in the series. I'm imagining a beautiful underwater world, magically and mystical. Just beautiful.

 (Aquarathi: Book One)
Written By Amalie Howard
Expected Publication 29 / 10 / 2013
304 Pages

Thank you Harlequin Australia for the review copy. 

1 comment

  1. Glad to hear this one met your expectations Kelly! I'll be more eager to read my one too (the cover is beautiful btw). Sounds like there's some great character development here.


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