In Deeper Waters

S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry. Apr. 2021. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534480506.
Gr 9 Up–A merman and a prince who is secretly a mage fall in love on a pirate ship, and must endure a political kidnapping and repay a sea witch before they can be together. Can Prince Tal and his beloved merman Athlen survive such a journey toward a happy ending? Lukens attempts to weave together too many plots in this queer YA fantasy novel. Not enough time is spent on the page to give all of the complex characters the backstories that readers will desire. Teens are introduced to mages, mermen, multiple royal families, mercenary pirates, and other magical creatures, all of whom come with a history that is integral to the plot. However, the information given only scratches the surface, resulting in too many characters whose stories are tangled together and big plot reveals falling short. The ending feels abrupt, leaving questions unanswered for some plotlines, while others get wrapped up into a happily ever after. After a perilous journey, these characters deserve better.
VERDICT The plot of this queer fantasy is intriguing, but ultimately proves to be too much for one novel.

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