Being the only human in a world of merfolk... isn't easy. Florence Waverley chose to stay in Niemela, but things have gone awry. Secrets have risen and the prince she cares about has pulled away. All the while, dark dreams warn her of a tragedy that only she can stop. But in order to save the merman she loves, Florence will have to enter the Life Path tournament: a brutal test of fear and madness.
The tournament is a rite of passage--a maze where young mermaids and mermen battle to find their purpose. It is also a place where Florence will face grave danger: mermaids with evil magic, tunnels filled with sea fire, and guardians who wish to use her as a pawn in their secret plans. But will Florence be strong enough to survive the tournament... or will she perish inside it?
Everything hangs in the balance: her life, her world, and her love.
("Luminaire" is the second book in the Florence Waverley series.)
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The great thing about a sequel novel- if done right- is that all the basic introduction stuff is out of the way and you can get into the really good stuff: the action. This was the case with Luminaire. I really really enjoyed Florence, the first book in the series. In fact, it may even be my favorite mermaid book. Luminaire, on the other hand, kind of blew me away with its sheer awesomeness. The story continues with Florence deciding to stay in Niemela and, in an effort to find her place in the mer society while simultaneously helping out Princess Yolee, she enters the Life Path tournament (read as "giant maze filled with lots of dangerous stuff"). This tournament is a big deal. Huge. Whether or not a Niemelan comes out of the maze determines their role in the kingdom. Oh, and there's also the possibility that they just don't make it out at all... Anyways. Loved the maze. So much action and fighting and craftiness happens in the maze (and I suspect I'm just a total sucker for anything that's set in maze).Through the ordeal, Florence really grew as a character. She's no longer the awkward outsider in Niemela- she literally battles for a place in this world she has come to consider home. Florence is a pretty quiet character, a bit of a wallflower, but always with a silent strength hidden away in her. I thought I had seen the extent of that strength in the first book, but only after reading Luminaire did I realize that what I saw was only a fraction of what Florence had in her. Rolan's character had me a bit peeved because he acted so standoff-ish and cold towards Florence in the beginning. But no worries, by the end of the book, he more than redeemed himself. I would tell you guys how but I wouldn't want to spoil any of the good stuff for you. ;) In addition to Florence and Rolan, a few new characters are introduced in this book as allies and foes. I am usually picky about characters who make their grand debut later in a series, but I ended up loving them (not the bad guys, obviously). Marilenna and Wynn were my favorites; they made the character dynamics and plot much more interesting. Plus there's definitely some chemistry between the two of them and I'm dying to see more! The plot was a tad slow at first, but once the tournament was set in motion, I was completely hooked. Yet even amidst a fast-moving plot, the author is able to interweave beautiful descriptions of another facet of the underwater world. The imagery is vivid and colorful and a bit magical.... while also managing to be somewhat creepy at times. ALL IN ALL: If you loved Florence then I highly recommend reading Luminaire because everything that was wonderful about the first book has basically been elevated. The ending, which is a bit of a cliffhanger, promises much more intrigue to come in the next book and I cannot wait. *I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Betther than the First! My Review: Lets start off by saying this is the second book in the series and I really enjoyed the first, Florence. For some reason latey I have been disappointed with follow up books in a series, but with Luminaire that is not the case! We get to continue Florence's undersea adventures through turbulent times. I think that this book may have been even better than the first, maybe because romance really took a back seat to adventure and self discovery. Also while the book is filled with action, it doesn't feel like it is crisis after crisis until the main event of the Life Path Tournament. Now I can't talk too much about things without spoiling surprises but I really like where the story is headed. I enjoy how Ciye Cho really made you remember that she is underwater, the characters and scenes really stick to the setting (I know that sounds odd but I really hate when stories or characters that are not human or on earth start to take on the traits of being on earth and forget the true setting). My Rating: I really enjoyed Luminaire and I think that many of you will also enjoy it, but I do suggest reading Florence first as it is a continuation of the story. I give Luminaire a rating of Four Paws!
Cho brings us back to the magical world of Niemela where we are reunited with Florence, Rolan, and Yolee. Yet again, I am amazed at Cho's ability to make Niemela feel credible. His descriptive phrases and attention to minute details makes this deep sea realm come alive. Although there were little kinks in the plot and character development, Cho was able to create an awesome sequel for the series. The Bad: The romance between Rolan and Florence wasn't as developed or as well written as it was in the first book. Rolan in particular acted out of character and it bothered me to think that he was purposefully written this way in order to have a presence in this book; as though he was written as stoic in order for the reader to remember him while Florence was going through the battles and trials to fit into the Niemelan world. I thought that Rolan's character was weaker and more shallow than the caring and emotional character we met in the first book. I found the explanations for Rolan's standoffish attitude to be inadequate and in turn the cuddly feelings I got from this couple in the first book didn't continue in this sequel. The Good: The plot had few loose ends and the events in the story were more engaging and better written than those in the first book. I can clearly see that Cho skill has progressed and it shines in this sequel. Although the concept of having each Niemelan follow one or more of the seven life paths (builder, healer, guardian, worker, thinker, animal trainer, or warrior) was unoriginal, it was written seamlessly into the novel's overall idea that each being has a certain role to play in order to benefit the community. Not only does this give the reader an idea of a potential dystopian world, but the concept also emphasizes how Florence disrupts this order and how her presence will bring change, both good and bad, into Niemela. What I really respect about this book was that it avoided what we readers call middle book syndrome (MBS). A lot of authors who plan to create a trilogy only focus on the beginning and end without really constructing the middle. For example, the reason why J. K. Rowling was able to create such a successful series is because each book has its own plot structure, while contributing to the main character's overall journey. Rather than making the second book a filler, i.e., have no plot whatsoever, Cho created another action-packed book to add to the series and for that I applaud him. In addition to the plot, the introduction of new characters, Wynn and Marilenna, paired with new information and discoveries about Florence's identity and powers gives the reader more incite about how the story will play out and keeps them engaged and wondering. Finally I find a book this year that leaves me with questions about the story rather about plot holes and incongruities. The two new character adds another dimension to the story and gives us an idea of the pressure a Niemelan deals with when trying to fit in and to follow a life path. Overall: For those of you haven't read the first book, I recommend you read it first in order to get a full scope of the story and message and if you have get ready for another exciting adventure full of twists and turns.