DiscoverYoung Adult Fantasy

Voiceless: A Mermaid's Tale

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Not for me 😔

This is an interesting interpretation to The Little Mermaid tale; though slow at times and clunky in its delivery, the story shows promise.

Synopsis

Freedom is a choice. Is she brave enough to take it or will she remain voiceless?
Moriah is a beautiful mermaid princess that lives in Zoara-Bela under her grandfather, King Abaddon’s cruel reign. On her 16th birthday, she must undergo her rite of passage in which a young mermaid must transform into a human, and live among them for a day without drawing suspicion from the world above.
It’s not until she meets Michael, a young, handsome man, that she witnesses the stark contrast between the openness and kindness of the human world and the bitter reality of her draconian society.
She returns to the city beneath the waves with a longing for the freedom of the shore in her heart. But getting her freedom isn’t as simple as using magic to get a pair of legs.
Moriah must risk her life to free her kingdom and uncover the secrets of her past and family. If she wants her freedom and the chance to love freely, she must stand up to the wicked king who will stop at nothing to crush any voice of dissent.
Time is running out and the fate of an entire kingdom rests on her shoulders.

Deep beneath the sea lies a secret world of Merfolk and magic; however, it is not as idyllic as it first appears. Moriah is a sixteen-year-old mermaid, the granddaughter of the king, Abaddon. In her world, maidens are barely permitted to speak and can only rarely share their opinions with others. Luckily, Moriah’s father is more open-minded, permitting Moriah to learn to read and speak her mind on occasion.


Following tradition, Moriah has the chance to travel to the human world, one to which Moriah’s ancestors used to belong before a curse condemned them to an unfeeling life as Merpeople. On the surface, she meets a human named Michael and she sees how different her life could be if the curse were lifted. Upon her return, Moriah begins to study magic and learn more about her world. Mysteries are revealed to her as she begins to understand her grandfather for who he really is and the fact that her father has kept dark secrets from her for her entire life. Moriah’s strength of will and desire to improve life for everyone inspires her to step beyond herself to destroy the forces of evil and free her people.


Readers familiar with The Little Mermaid will recognize echoes of Ariel’s story within Moriah’s tale. However, Moriah is a stronger, more self-possessed heroine who becomes a leader while navigating the obstacles in her way. The tale follows a compelling story arc, though the writing could benefit from some restructuring. Instead of allowing the story to unfold, the narrative is dictated toward the reader, causing the flow to become sluggish at times. A host of plot developments and details are delivered throughout the story, attempting to accomplish a huge list of tasks in a relatively short time.


Unlike many young adult novels, Voiceless attempts to address the psychological effects inherent to the struggles Moriah faces. While an important effort, it feels forced at the end of the book and could be better implemented. Overt references to Christianity pervade the story without any firm explanation. Occasional strong language and cursory discussions of violence and romance make this story an acceptable transition to young adult literature for less mature readers. While ultimately an interesting story, the writing and delivery could use some support to become a more engaging read.

Reviewed by

My career has focused on children’s literature, primarily, but I have a love for YA books, too. I began reviewing books in 2015, since which time I have had over 500 published reviews!

I primarily write reviews, but will create video reviews like this upon request: https://youtu.be/9MQx-u_NFI8

Synopsis

Freedom is a choice. Is she brave enough to take it or will she remain voiceless?
Moriah is a beautiful mermaid princess that lives in Zoara-Bela under her grandfather, King Abaddon’s cruel reign. On her 16th birthday, she must undergo her rite of passage in which a young mermaid must transform into a human, and live among them for a day without drawing suspicion from the world above.
It’s not until she meets Michael, a young, handsome man, that she witnesses the stark contrast between the openness and kindness of the human world and the bitter reality of her draconian society.
She returns to the city beneath the waves with a longing for the freedom of the shore in her heart. But getting her freedom isn’t as simple as using magic to get a pair of legs.
Moriah must risk her life to free her kingdom and uncover the secrets of her past and family. If she wants her freedom and the chance to love freely, she must stand up to the wicked king who will stop at nothing to crush any voice of dissent.
Time is running out and the fate of an entire kingdom rests on her shoulders.

Prologue

I’d always known I was different; I’d just never realised how peculiar I was. In most ways, I appeared to be like the other maidens that lived beneath the sea. Not that I had a choice. Mermaids were expected to be demure and to respect their betters, which were always men. Our voices within society were stolen from us because of what happened in our past. 

We all learnt the story as merchildren. Zoara-Bela used to be a city like any other on the surface. People would barter on the streets to get a deal, and merchants would shout to draw attention to their stalls. Children could run and laugh freely, but not anymore. 

As merchildren, we were taught better. They taught us our place within society. For the men, their place was within their station. The son of a merchant could not become a lord, and the son of a servant could only be a servant. Maidens regardless of the station they were born in could learn only what their fathers would allow. We learnt that our life, our word, was worth less than a man’s. As a merchild, I never understood why maidens were treated like this, not until I heard the story of the fall. Then I knew it was our punishment for the actions of our goddess.

As merchildren, we were told that our goddess Gaea brought about the downfall of our city because we no longer wished to follow her strict rules. Abaddon, my grandfather, wanted to rule the kingdom based on his values and not the values of a goddess who rarely made appearances before us. He ordered the death of a criminal favoured by her, leading to our curse. And so, upon our fall, he ensured that no maiden would ever have the power to cause such damage again. 

None of my tutors ever went into more detail. I would always ask, what did the criminal do? Why did Gaea care so much about a criminal? Every time I asked those questions, I was told that it didn’t matter and that maidens shouldn’t ask questions. But I had so many questions.

My curiosity led me to Father’s private archives, which contained memory orbs that recorded our history. Only the record keepers and those with Father’s permission could enter. But by that age, I had already learnt how to bypass the passive perimeter wards without notifying Father through sneaking into the lessons of magic that sons of nobles had. 

The spell la’akof et hahaganott (bypass the protection) was simple to cast as it didn’t alter the wards, just allowed someone to slip past them without activating the defences. And in those archives, I learnt that our curse was the punishment for failing her test. 

The criminal in the story was a legacy and a high priestess from a temple in Athens. Chava was a weary traveller. She had broken one of our laws and was sentenced to death. What I saw and felt within that orb terrified me. I experienced everything they did at the moment the curse was cast. The magic that stifled their breath. The bones that broke and twisted into a new shape. Their legs being joined to form a fishtail. The weight of the curse that suppressed our ability to feel. I felt it all as a merchild. 

The love they felt for their children and their wives that was once all-consuming became muted to the point their connections became a duty. I felt their pain and horror at what they had become. These were things that I had never known but were taken from me by this curse. As the memory ended, I felt an itching and warmth welling up in my eyes that escaped upon blinking. Tears.

Merfolk could not cry, but somehow, I did.

About the author

Anna Finch lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she works as a teacher of English and Humanities by day and as a writer by night. She hopes to thrill, inspire, and reinforce a love of reading in all who pick up her work. view profile

Published on October 20, 2020

90000 words

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Reviewed by

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