Rating: 5 stars out of 5
What doesn’t kill you sometimes makes you wish it had…
Priddy’s a lost soul in a part of Cornwall the tourists don’t get to see. He’s young, sweet-natured and gorgeous, but that’s not enough to achieve escape velocity from his deadbeat village and rotten family life.
He’s a drifter and a dreamer, and self-preservation isn’t his strong suit. An accidental overdose of a nightclub high leaves him fractured, hallucinating, too many vital circuits fried to function in a tough world. When a friend offers him winter work in a lighthouse – nothing to do but press the occasional button and keep the windows clean – he gratefully accepts.
His plans to live quietly and stay out of trouble don’t last very long. A ferocious Atlantic storm washes a stranger to Priddy’s lonely shore. For a shipwrecked sailor, the new arrival seems very composed. He’s also handsome as hell, debonair, and completely unconcerned by Priddy’s dreadful past.
Priddy has almost given up on the prospect of any kind of friendship, and a new boyfriend – let alone a six-foot beauty with eerily good swimming skills – out of the question entirely. But Merou seems to see undreamed-of promise in Priddy, and when they hit the water together, Priddy has to adapt to Merou’s potentials too, and fast. His lover from the sea might be a mere mortal from the waist up, but south of that line…
Far-flung west Cornwall has a hundred mermaid tales. Priddy’s loved the stories all his life. Now he has to face up to a wildly impossible truth. Merou’s life depends upon his courage and strength, and if Priddy can only find his way in the extraordinary world opening up all around him, all the ocean and a human lifetime needn’t be enough to contain the love between merman and mortal.
Harper Fox is by far the best weaver of tales I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I have one other favorite who is an excellent storyteller, but Harper’s tales are just that: the sort of tales I would imagine would survive history in the telling from one generation to the next. There’s a certain atmosphere present throughout the story, making me almost feel as if I’m an observer in a pub on the Cornish Coast as I listen to a wise old sailor tell us about Priddy and his merman, Merou.
Priddy suffered brain damage from overusing certain drugs when he was already drunk and not mindful of his decisions. His best friend, Kit, holds himself to blame, so when he leaves for college, he arranges a job for Priddy, manning his grandfather’s lighthouse. The job suits Priddy well as he takes his meds and slowly goes about his tasks. He’s even starting to feel a bit stronger and more content, when one night he spots a boat in trouble, and by the time he gets to shore, he only sees one head bobbing in the water.
He rushes in to help the drowning man, nearly drowning himself, and is shocked when the man seems to be stronger than he is and ends up rescuing him. Unfortunately, he’s touched the man—a man who he later finds out is a merman—and because he touched him, the man takes on human form (complete with External John Thomas!) and is able to stay “topside” for a while. When the man named Merou suddenly begins to change back and is in danger of dying from being on land, Priddy manages to find the strength to get him back in the water, thereby saving his life.
Through a series of on-land and in-sea adventures, the two become close and Priddy is granted a wish for saving Merou’s life, a wish that restores his mental abilities. But the side effect is his development of gills and an eventual change takes place that neither of them had asked for. In the meantime, Kit has fallen in love with one of his professors, one who has a keen interest in mermaids, and the two show up at the lighthouse, bringing with them more havoc than help when the professor reveals his true nature.
I’m trying hard not to give anything away, while at the same time, I’m trying to give a brief overview of the grand scope of this story. All his life he’s heard legends of mermaids in that area of the coast so imagine Priddy’s surprise when he realizes they aren’t just a figment of old men’s imaginations. This story comes complete with mystery and suspense, romance and danger, and a future for both Priddy and Kit that neither man could have envisioned.
I loved the world-building in this story, the three-dimensional characters, and the plausible explanations for things previously thought to be the product of a fertile imagination. And I loved the love—the love between two men that will survive to infinity and the love of one friend for another—a love that will survive time as a new tale is woven that will be told for future generations to come.
Honestly? There was nothing about this story I didn’t like, except perhaps for the professor, and he was the perfect villain so no problems there. I recommend this to all lovers of fantasy, and for those who have had a fascination with mermaids, mermen, and other mythical sea creatures. Of course, if you love a good tale to be heard around a fire during a cold winter night, this story is just the one to meet your expectations.
The cover depicts Merou in his human form, wrapped in one of Priddy’s towels, and is very nicely done.
ebook, 159 pages
Published June 20th 2016 by FoxTales Publications