I’ve read so many of Diana’s fantasy stories that I’ve lost count (click for my reviews of Unraveling the Veil, Sunwielder, Legacy of Souls, and Soul Swallowers). They’re fast reads, not because they’re easy reads but because I can’t put them down. Diana’s ability to create believable fantasy worlds that leave me sure somewhere they must exist is incomparable. Her latest–The Ferryman and the Sea Witch–is no exception.
The merrow rule the sea. Slender creatures, fair of face, with silver scales and the graceful tails of angelfish. Caught in a Brid Clarion net, the daughter of the sea witch perishes in the sunlit air. Her fingers dangle above the swells.
The queen of the sea bares her sharp teeth and, in a fury of wind and waves, cleanses the brine of ships and men. But she spares a boy for his single act of kindness. Callum becomes the Ferryman, and until Brid Clarion pays its debt with royal blood, only his sails may cross the Deep.
Two warring nations, separated by the merrow’s trench, trade infant hostages in a commitment to peace. Now, the time has come for the heirs to return home. The Ferryman alone can undertake the exchange.
Yet, animosities are far from assuaged. While Brid Clarion’s islands bask in prosperity, Haf Killick, a floating city of derelict ships, rots and rusts and sinks into the reefs. Its ruler has other designs.
And the sea witch crafts dark bargains with all sides.
Callum is caught in the breach, with a long-held bargain of his own which, once discovered, will shatter this life.
The sea witch Panmar is not a mermaid and definitely nothing like Disney’s Ariel from “The Little Mermaid”. Panmar is an unusual blend of fish and human called a merrow:
As her undersea kingdom’s ruler, Panmar is not given to kindness or leniency but when a human sailor named Callum almost loses his life trying to save Panmar’s daughter, she offers him a trade: He will be the only ferryman who can cross the Sea Witch’s waters but he can never set foot on land again AND he must provide a royal sacrifice to assuage the Witch. Until he finds one, he must offer a human sacrifice as the price of crossing her watery realm.
Two warring nations, one on either side of the Sea Witch’s oceans, commit to this arrangement by trading royal infants, allowing their sworn enemy to raise their child. The day finally comes when the children must return to their rightful family but what trust there once was has melted away over the years to be replaced by lies, deceit, and treachery. Hidden secrets must now come out as the intertwined fates of the two royal houses unravel. If even family can’t be trusted, how can Callum find a way to save what is most important to him?
Highly recommended for those who love fantasy, dark sea shanties, and anything written by Diana Peach.
Note: My newest prehistoric fiction book is out, Laws of Nature. I’d love for you to give it a look!
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021.