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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

THE SEA QUEEN'S DAUGHTER by Ellis Drake: Review and Give-Away

I discovered the delightful writing voice of Ellis Drake when she sent me a beta read for The Lonely Hipster (which is not yet published, but hopefully soon). It was a quirky, funny, unexpected mystery.

As soon as I finished it, I purchased The Fornarina Affair, a mystery set in Rome that combined a bunch of my favorite topics...Italy, art history, and romance. I am a sucker for books that create a lush, inviting setting and make it part of the fabric of the story itself. Drake clearly has a love of all things Italian, and that came shining through in this novella.

Her latest work, The Sea Queen's Daughter, is another charming novella. This time she has taken "The Little Mermaid" and given it a fascinating twist. This version of the well-known tale is set in Venice, and is a colorful romantic fantasy. The opening chapter is magical, a scene from a masked Carnevale party set on a boat in Venice.

"The woman looked over her shoulder and turned to him, almost as if he willed it. Her mask was unlike anything he'd ever seen, sparkling blue in the candlelight, with an archaic smile and dark blue eyes. Her alabaster neck and shoulders were exposed, baring a necklace that looked like it had been taken from the sea: bits of rounded glass, shell, coral, and tiny fins attached to a slim, barnacle-covered rope."

This first chapter sets the mood for the rest of the piece. There are humorous secondary characters with witty dialogue, there is a beautiful and mysterious woman wearing a glass mask, there is a charming hero instantly smitten, and there are lush, fantastical details of life in Venice and of the sea. This is a very quick, fast-paced story, but it still manages to include some wonderful world-building details. I love how Serena can transform into different types of sea creatures, including a shark, an octopus, and a heroic dolphin. The violent Sea Queen, the horrifying ritual that ties poor Serena to an underwater prison, and the threat of Venice sinking forever into the ocean, create a nice suspenseful storyline.

Drake somehow manages to mix a contemporary feel for dialogue and humor with an apprecation for antiquities, tradition, and history. It's a cool combination, and I am really digging her voice.

To celebrate the release of this story, I am giving away a gorgeous set of Venetian glass earrings (from Etsy of course!) to one lucky commenter, as well as a copy of The Sea Queen's Daughter.

Authentic Venetian glass beads, handmade of Moretti glass, with 24K gold foil, silver foil, and aventurina (copper particles). From VickieJoesJewels, Etsy.

Please leave a comment and you'll be entered to win. I would love to hear about your favorite spots in Italy, or your favorite Italian food, or if you ever took a gondola ride in Venice, or if you ever pretended to be Ariel in The Little Mermaid when you swam in the neighborhood pool.

I'm swimming! I'm swimming!

Comment for a chance to win!




Susan said...

I can only hope to visit Italy someday, but I do love to read about these beautiful places until I can get there. I am intrigued by the story's spin on the Little Mermaid tale. I must have watched the Disney movie with my daughter 100 times! She loved that character and even had a beautiful mermaid costume one Halloween -- custom made by her Nana!

Ellis Drake said...

Thank you so much for hosting the giveaway and for the lovely review, Penny! <3 I can't wait to see your readers' comments on whether or not they've been to Venice or like The Little Mermaid. I may or may not have completely memorized that movie when I was a kid. :)

Phoebe Chase said...

I love re-tellings of fairy tales and have looked forward to this since you first posted about it. The Little Mermaid is one of my favorites. I have not been to Italy (yet) but my favorite Italian food is risotto.

Shirra said...

I got to visit Venice for a day and got to visit the Murano district where all the gorgeous glass is made. If I hadn't been backpacking, I would have bought all the shiny things! I really want to go back for a longer visit and lots of bubble wrap for packing lovely glass objects.

Julia Barrett said...

Very pretty. She's a lovely author.

Penelope said...

Hi Susan! I love mermaid stories. This one is cool because the mermaid transforms into many different types of sea creatures. It's cool!

Penelope said...

Hi Ellis! I went to Venice many years ago, and I LOVED it. It is such a romantic place. My favorite thing there was actually going to a glass-blowing workshop. And the food. And the shopping. And...the gondola ride!

Penelope said...

Hi Phoebe! I also love new twists on legends and fairy tales. I love risotto, too! Especially when someone else makes it!

Penelope said...

Hi Shirra...Awesomesauce! We bought some glass and had it shipped home. It was so delicate and gorgeous.

Penelope said...

Julia...this novella is charming!

Michelle Libby said...

I love the phrase Awesomesauce! My son says awesomesocks. It doesn't have the same ring.
I'm looking forward to reading this lovely novella.

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

Not entering the giveaway, but just wanted to say this was a wonderful read. :0 z

Geek Amicus said...

I used to live not far from Venice, so I've been there often. It is one of those places where I frequently find myself wandering in my head. I know the streets and the quiet squares off the beaten tourist track. I could die happy there.

Unknown said...

Regrettably, I have never been to Italy though I hope to remedy that some day. I've always really, really wanted to see Rome!

Penelope said...

Thanks to everyone for entering!

GEEK, you won! Woo hoo!

Please email me your snail mail addy so I can send you the earrings. And let me know what email addy to send your ebook copy of THE SEA QUEEN'S DAUGHTER!

Thanks to Ellis, also! :^)

Geekamicus said...

Thank you Penny! Thank you Ellis!