‘The melody soared, beautiful and strange in the ordinary human surroundings, as if shimmering waves were cascading over Ikea furniture and washing over the beige carpet. It was a lover’s song, a mating song…’ – Line from ‘Music for a Merman’, by Alice Renaud
I haven’t read an entire fantasy series in a while. (Granted, this one was short. But it still counts, right?)
Then I discovered Alice Renaud’s work, and I couldn’t help myself. Mermaids, warlocks, hags… Piers Anthony, eat your heart out! Alice’s narratives are so vivid that you can almost hear the ocean breeze, and feel the cold darkness of the sea as her characters plunge into it.
Alice’s trilogy – A Merman’s Choice, Music for a Merman, and Mermaids Marry in Green – is marketed as ‘fantasy romance’. And I suppose it is, in a sense, because all three tales do kind of revolve around budding relationships. (Mermaids Marry in Green does have a distinct suspense/thriller note to it, though.)
But I think of romance as a genre that targets a primarily female audience. Alice Renaud’s work, at least in my mind, has a much more unisex appeal. Heroine and Hero are equally well developed, and she is very ‘equal opportunity’ in her approach to character descriptions. For every sentence pointing out Yann’s rock-hard abs, there’s another praising Caltha’s luscious, voluptuous derriere. And that’s as it should be, I think; these stories are far too good to be limited to a narrow audience!
Alice’s characters are often contradictory, but always in ways that feel very real. Caltha is a feisty one, for sure… but she melts when she finally finds someone to love, and her story feels very genuine. Rhys Regor seems like a right bastard, and perhaps he is… but he still turns to mush around his beloved grandchild.
Life is complex. People are complex. Alice Renaud skillfully uses the complexities of human interactions to breathe Believability into world that would otherwise be completely unbelievable; she brings the Implausible to very, very plausible life.
And that… Is the very definition of magic!
Cheers! – Virginia
(P.S. Alice’s next Mermaid story, The Holiday Mermaid, will appear in the upcoming anthology Desire Me Again… alongside a story by yours truly entitled Renewing Forever. I am deeply honored!)
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