After Atlantis fell, mermaid culture kept swimming. But young Calandra knows the mystical, fire-filled Heartstone must be healed; otherwise, her fragile culture will be exposed to the outside world. The Undine’s Tear, first in Talena Winters’s Rise of the Grigori series, features well-drawn characters immersed in intricate worlds. Its mythos mixes a biblical worldview, ancient Greek myth, and 1700s nautical culture, all centered on a scattered and empathetic family striving to seek out long-lost members. Plot logic consistently holds water, balancing a sense of adventure with the unbearable claustrophobia of shipboard life, and building toward an intensely internal and deep climax. Calandra’s spiritual struggles and eventual awakening bring true hardship and loss, pointing to greater hope across the horizon in sequels to this rip-roaring read.
Best for: Older teens and adults who love mermaids, Atlantis, and island adventures.
Discern: Violent moments, sensual elements such as seduction, and neutral-to-positive portrayals of ancient pagan deities and cults.