Book Review – Fish Out of Water by Ros Baxter

Fish Out Of Water
Fish Out Of Water by Ros Baxter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dirtwater is one of those small desert towns in America, with nothing to distinguish it from the next small desert town. Except its deputy sheriff, Rania Aqualina, a half mermaid who is living there with her full mermaid mother.

Prophesied to die before her thirtieth birthday unless she changes the fate of the World, Rania is a couple of months shy of 30, with no idea what the prophecy means. Then a mermaid corpse turns up in Dirtwater, followed by Raina being invited back to the underwater city of Aegira for a wedding. Arriving in Aegira, Raina discovers strange things are going on, with most of the population oblivious to them, and possible ties to the dead mermaid in Dirtwater.

As Rania begins to investigate, she finds herself in life threatening danger, when she uncovers a plot which could mean the end of Aegira and the mermaids as a species…

I started off really liking this book, the writing was solid and I enjoyed the various turns of phrase used by Baxter.

The world building was interesting – the different species of underwater dwellers, the mythology, the interaction with humans, it was all a good background.

Throw in the foreground of the detective story plot with Rania investigating the death of a mermaid in Dirtwater and strange events in Aegira.

Mix in a dash of romance with Doug, the mysterious ex, and Carragheen, the dashing mermaid whom Rania develops a mutual attraction for, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a story I’d like.

However, the pace seemed off to me. It felt like it was going on and on for too long until an eventual resolution of sorts, which I found rather dissatisfying. I believe there are going to be sequels so there’s a lot that was deliberately left unexplained and unresolved, but I felt this book either needed a much bigger resolution, or a faster pace and lot less build-up.

The characterisation and character motivations also seemed a bit touch and go to me – Rania was well developed, her mother reasonably developed too, but there were several other characters which seemed more cardboard or on rails, existing only to help or hinder Rania for plot reasons, rather than as part of their own lives.

I’ll probably keep an eye out for the sequel(s) and see if they go anywhere, but they won’t be on the top of my list.

If you like the sound of a mermaid detective story, then this could appeal for you, but feel free to skim read or skip ahead if you feel the pace is too slow.


Disclaimer: Whilst I read this as a judge for the 2013 Aurealis Awards, this review is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging co-ordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team.

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