Book Review: Promises (Syrenka #1) by Amber Garr

13182274Title: Promises (Syrenka #1)
Author: Amber Garr
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes following your heart can end up destroying the ones you love.

When seventeen-year-old Eviana Dumahl is faced with the responsibility of an arranged marriage and clan leadership, she is forced to choose between the life required of a mermaid and one of a teenage girl simply infatuated with the wrong guy. Kain, her devoted fiancé would make a wonderful husband except that she’s been in love with Brendan, a shape-shifting selkie, ever since they were kids. Choosing to abandon her family, her clan, and her life with Kain will have dire consequences far beyond anything she could have imagined.

A war is brewing amongst the clans and Eviana unwittingly becomes a pawn in the intricate schemes of a twisted mastermind. With Brendan’s life on the line, she has no choice but to involve those who she once considered friends. Amidst encountering senseless tragedies and immense loss, Eviana discovers that she is more valuable as a clan leader than anyone ever suspected. Her survival is not only dependent upon the loyalty of her friends, but also on her acceptance of a life that she had so adamantly tried to escape.

Promises is the first book of The Syrenka Series trilogy following Eviana and her friends through the perils of growing up in a discrete world that inherently threatens human society.

Promises is the first book in the Syrenka Series. I’ll read and review all of these books during April. It was a bit of a surprise jump starting to read the series because I had no idea what to expect. Mermaids, yes, but well, that hardly covers any ground. I expected these books to be good though because I’d heard about them before. Well, I wasn’t disappointed – at least not by this one (I’m still reading book two, and haven’t gotten started on book three yet).

Eviana is the oldest daughter of the Dumahl clan, a mermaid clan run by her mother. She’s supposed to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a clan leader. The clans are pretty much stuck in the eighteenth century with arranged marriages and ceremonials much resembling old royal balls. Either way, Eviana is to marry the soon-to-be leader of the Matthews clan, Kain. While Kain has feelings for her, Eviana is actually in love with Brendan, a selkie. She doesn’t want her arranged marriage to take place so she comes up with a plan to escape along with Brendan. They live happily for a while, until Brendan is attacked by a group of selkies and his skin is stolen. Afraid she might lose him forever, Eviana gets in touch with Kain and her old friends to ask for their help. But she might be up against something a lot more terrifying than she thought possible.

I liked Eviana. She was an interesting, unique character. I liked her mermaids abilities, and how she’d just begun to grasp her powers. She’s very stubborn and also quite brave when it comes to protecting the people she loves. Although she has a lot of flaws as well, those only added to her personality, making her richer and more complex. Like when she risked everything to be with Brendan, I felt that was a very selfish move and the consequences slapped her straight in the head almost right away. I also really liked Kain. He’s a nice guy, but he can be tough when needed and he has all the qualities of a great leader. He can make tough decisions when he has to, and well, he’s just very powerful. Brendan was actually the opposite. I have no idea why Eviana is so head over heels for him, and I hope to see more of him in the next book because here it seemed like his personality just wasn’t all that developed yet. He was there, yes, but he went through things instead of actually doing things.

The other secondary characters were all right. I liked Carissa, and Daniel seemed all right as well, although Eviana and Daniel’s friendship seemed to have progressed overnight. Didn’t sound entirely too convincing to me.

What really drew me in here though, was the setting. The world of Syrenka is filled with wonderful creatures from ancient myths, ranging from mermaids to water sprites to selkies to kelpies and more. I enjoyed discovering this world and its rich culture and history. Plot-wise the book was all right as well, although the ‘great war’ thing came out of nowhere and some things happened a bit too conveniently.

All in all, I really enjoyed Promises and I’m looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.

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