Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Shimmer by Brinda Berry

Rating: WORTHY!'

This completes my brace of reviews of mermaid stories I decided to...dip into. While I like the idea of a good mermaid story, the execution of such stories has nearly always failed me, so I'm not a fan of the genre. Once in a while a story comes along that sounds like it might be worth reading, but often I'm disappointed which is what happened with the previous novel I reviewed, which was awful. This one is a very short story, and when I began it I had the feeling that I might end up not liking it, but as I read on, it won me over.

It's not brilliant, but it was a worthy read even though, with all the advertising in it, it felt more like it was a flier for Brinda Berry's writing than ever it was an honest attempt at selling a story. There are pages of advertising for books by Berry, so the actual story starts on page seven and ends on page 43 of a sixty-three page book! The actual story isn't even forty pages. The last section of the book is taken up with two chapters from another Brinda Berry novel, which (and not coincidentally!) I'm actually reading next.

The thing which started to turn me off the novel was the main character names, which were so bad and uninventive that it almost made me quit. The guy is named Draven - he's the landlubber. Draven? Seriously? The mermaid is named Coral. She's land-bound due to a family decision from long ago, but she knows of her mermaid heritage from her deceased mother, and she's trying to get back to it. This explains why Draven (Draven? Honestly?) thinks she's drowning herself when he's out on the beach at an ungodly hour in the morning. He "saves" her and they form an uncomfortable friendship. But Coral is determined to revert to her heritage, so the relationship seems doomed.

Like I said, not usually my cup of sea. I like a good paranormal story, even some romances, but they have to be organic and make sense within their own framework and far too many do not. I think you have to have some sort of framework, otherwise anything goes and the story has no substance. This one was short enough and vague enough that I didn't run into any of those problems, and Coral was so practical I couldn't help but like her. She doesn't care that Draven sees her butt-naked, which makes a refreshing change from the panicked modesty we often encounter in scenes where one of the main characters is unexpectedly exposed. It was this grounding and Draven's more mature attitude which won me over. He almost lost me with his over-protectiveness, but in the end I liked the story which is why I moved on to read the book-length Berry novel titled The Waiting Booth

It's for these reasons that I consider this a worthy read, especially since it was free from Barnes & Noble when I picked it up! I'm always looking for new, intelligent authors to get into, and maybe Brinda Berry (which is actually a really cool name!) will be one of them. Although I solemnly promise right here that I will never read any of her novels that have naked male torsos on the covers. Ugh! Talk about genderist! I actively avoid novels like that no matter who had written them. Maybe that should have informed me on the second book I reviewed by this author, which did not fare so well despite having no naked torsos on the cover!!

I don't normally talk about book covers because my blog is about writing, not pretension or glitz, and authors rarely have anything to do with their covers (or their back cover blurbs!) unless they self-publish, but I have to say this one was interesting. The model's face was quite captivating, but what I loved most of all was how the title, Shimmer was in a font where it looked like it might read "Swimmer". I don't know if the artist planned that consciously. If so, it was a master stroke. If not, it was a fortuitous happenstance. I enjoy plays on words, especially in book titles, so this one was a winner there, too! Note that this is not the sad cover shown on Goodreads with the guy, and the mermaid holding a starfish. The one on this edition was so much better!