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Heart of Shell: The Mercrutian Chronicles by Zara Steen

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Anya is your typical awkward, insecure teenage girl with perpetual bad hair days and braces; except she is not a typical teenage girl, she is part mermaid and part human.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Anya is a bit of a late bloomer when compared to other mermaids her age because she has yet to reach the Mer equivalent of puberty, "transcendence." The fact that she has not developed into a full-fledged mermaid made it difficult for Anya to find a mate; until she and her parents relocated to Seabright, Nova Scotia and met Merrick Price.

Merrick Price is attractive and strong; the embodiment of a male Mer. He immediately accepts Anya as his betrothed, and the two begin to form a tenuous bond; one minute Merrick is treating Anya like a child, the next minute he seems to genuinely care for her. To complicate matters further, Merrick reveals to Anya that he would like both of them to date other people; leaving Anya to watch as he begins a relationship with another girl and wondering what motivated Merrick to agree to the betrothal.

As the story unfolds, Anya begins to form friendships with Merrick's sisters and girls at school. She begins to transform from a shy, insecure girl into a strong and confident young Mer. Anya also uncovers some clues as to why Merrick agreed to the betrothal; which makes her wonder if Merrick is using her to achieve a goal, or if he truly cares for her.

Heart of Shell by Zara Steen tackles some relevant issues that young adult females encounter: attraction to the opposite sex, love, bullying, insecurity, and coming of age. I appreciated how Steen presented these issues using a female protagonist that young adult females can relate to, and how Anya faced these issues with courage and grace. While I would have personally liked to have seen Anya stand up to Merrick a bit more when she suspected that Merrick's motives for betrothing her were self-serving, I realize that Anya's reaction to the situation is more realistic and age appropriate. 

Steen manages to keep a good pace in the book; I did not feel like the story line was rushed, nor did I think that it was long and drawn out. Steen did a really good job of developing Anya; she is a good kid, but not "goody-goody." I also like the fact that Merrick seems like a typical adolescent male; he sometimes comes across as an insensitive jerk, but he seems to be a kind and caring guy overall.

The only real problem that I have with Heart of Shell is the fact that the next book in the series is not out yet. I would really like to know more about Merrick's motives, and how Anya is going to deal with him when those motives are finally revealed. Otherwise, I really liked the book. It is not as dark and dreary as some of the paranormal young adult novels are, and I think that Steen's characters are vivid, unique, and fresh.

I would definitely buy Heart of Shell for my teenage nieces. I think that they would find Anya to be easy to relate to, I would prefer my nieces to emulate the vividness and freshness elements in Steen's novel, rather than the dark elements found in other young adult books.


If you want to find out more about Zara Steen and her writing:

You can find her on Goodreads where she has posted a bio, shares what she is reading, and answers some questions from other Goodreads users.

You can check her out on Facebook where she posts frequent updates about her projects, and book giveaways.

Goodreads and Facebook are both excellent ways to engage with Zara; however, you really should visit her blog. Zara's blog features a trailer for Heart of Shell, a gallery, a list of useful resources for self-publishing authors, and a novella called Red Velvet.

If those reasons are not enough to check out Zara Steen's blog, you will definitely want to head over for details on how to win a free copy of Heart of Shell! The giveaway ends on August 21, 2015, so make sure you enter before it's too late.

Enjoy, and good luck!