Back in May 2014 I reviewed The Deepest Ocean by Marian Perera. I liked it, but I didn’t love it, because I had a hard time connecting to the characters. Marian Perera wrote another book, The Farthest Shore, which is a stand alone in the same universe with much more relatable characters, and a kraken.
Let’s face it: you all know she had me at kraken.
Captain Alyster Juell, last seen irritating his brother in The Deepest Ocean, has his own command at last. He’s trying to win a race with his new steamship. Lo and behold, he has a stowaway – a smart woman with a big secret to whom he is madly attracted! What are the odds? Seriously, do ships come with a built-in secret compartment space for stowaways? Because they should.
Anyway, Juell and the stowaway, Miri, have tons of sexual tension but of course the Dark Secret causes problems between them, although the problems it poses are miniscule compared to race competition, pirates, and a kraken submarine. To explain the last, I have to fill in more of the premise. In this series (Farthest Ocean is Book 3) some people have the ability to form a psychic bond with animals. They usually can’t control them completely, but they can control them to a large degree. So Juell is assisted by a teenager with a tiger shark and threatened by a kid who is bossed around by pirates and mind melds with a kraken. The stuff with the kraken is both cool (it’s a kraken, after all) and horrifying (child abuse and animal abuse triggers galore).
Even though I loved the main characters in this book, the side characters were more interesting to read about simply because they had more to do. A teenager with a tiger shark is going to steal the scene no matter what is happening on the deck of a ship, especially when the shark is trying to alternately escape from and eat the kraken, which is powered by a young girl who has no intention of being a plot moppet. Major spoiler alert for those among us who will lose sleep unless they know if the kid and/or kraken is OK: The kid is fine. The kraken not so much. Here’s a tip for evil overlords in general – if you want to mess with a kid, don’t do it by making her mind meld with a giant predator. I’m just saying.
Anyway, all this mayhem is going on while Juell and Miri sort out their feelings and for much of the book their feelings are “PleasePleasePlease don’t let me be eaten by a kraken.” Miri is dynamic and smart and hardworking. Juell is ambitious, smart, and compassionate. The conflicts between Juell and Miri are painful and realistic. They are so realistic that I thought the problems were cleared up a bit too easily at the last minute. Having said that, I thought they were a great couple. They are two people who respect each other even though they are almost constantly at odds, and two people who, together, should be pretty much unstoppable. They are fun to read about, separately and together, and they never lose their senses of humor. I wish there had been more scenes of them working as a team– I felt a little cheated of payoff.
As I mentioned, The Farthest Shore is the third book in the Eden series. I still haven’t read the first book but I feel like I’ve got the gist of the world building, which is complex and gritty. In the war between Denalay and the Tureans (the pirates) there’s no simple “good side” or “bad side”. As readers, we tend to side with Denalay because most of the sympathetic characters are Denalaits, but there are hints that all is not shiny sparkly bliss with Denalay. This complexity and a huge cast of characters can make the plot confusing but also makes the series interesting and compelling. Even though the main romance is resolved in each book, I’m eager to read on to find out more about the supporting characters and the politics of war. Just so we're all clear – the sexy times in this series so far have been stricly human/human. If you are hoping for Fun with Mr. Kraken, then alas you will be dissapointed.
Now that I’ve read two books in this series, my conclusion is that in general the author writes decent romance and absolutely incredible action. This is IMAX 3D stuff. When Marian Perera writes about a battle at sea, she does not mess around. You get cannons and swords and multiple giant ocean predators. You get intrigue and frying pans and tentacles all the hell over the place. Please, Hollywood, make this series into a blockbuster film franchise. I’m begging, here. Also we need a novella or novel in which Kovir (the teen with the tiger shark) and Nuemy (the kid with the kraken) grow up and have a happy ending. They can team up with Yerena, the heroine from Deepest Ocean, and kick the asses of everyone we dislike on both sides of the war and then they can finally get some therapy. Fingers crossed!