Review: Beacon

Disclaimer: The content of this book was approved by a sensitivity reader from the mutism community. My review is based on an ARC I received from the author, and all opinions are my own.

Beacon by Camille Peters is the second "Little Mermaid" adaptation I've read this summer that doesn't actually contain any actual mermaids. The other was The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson. Between the two, I must admit that I prefer the latter. Beacon struggles with many of the same shortcomings as other books from Camille Peters' series such as slow pacing and an overall lack of conflict. It's a pleasant enough love story that gets bogged down by concepts that are difficult to swallow involving the main character. Like the previous book in this series, Forgotten, the magical elements of the setting are underdeveloped, which causes issues with the believability.

Beacon by Camille Peters

Though Beacon is listed as inspired by "The Little Mermaid," the story seems to draw more inspiration from other sources such as Moana and Frozen. Like the films themselves, the Moana elements work better than the Frozen ones. The main character, Marisa, is the daughter of a lighthouse keeper who was chosen by the ocean to have extraordinary abilities. She uses those abilities to send her voice away to the ocean to escape her childhood trauma like Moana did with the heart of Te Fiti during her moment of weakness. This plot point could be quite compelling to someone who has tried to bury away their own trauma. However, the trauma that she tries to bury is where the book starts to lose me. The abilities that she has over the sea are so powerful that she caused an enormous storm as a child that sunk a ship her mother was on. I see how this parallels with Elsa's powers in Frozen and how she tried to conceal them after hurting Anna as a child, but that was on a much smaller scale than controlling an entire ocean. Marisa is ridiculously overpowered with no explanation as to where the abilities came from. They don't run in her family nor were they granted to her by some sort of relic. She is intimidated by the dangers of these powers and believes that by giving up her voice, she will no longer be able to hurt anyone again.

While the exploration of why and how Marisa has these unique abilities could have made for a compelling story, the majority of the book focuses on her relationship with a prince she rescued from drowning, and I'm sorry to say that it just isn't that interesting. Prince Owen is immediately taken with Marisa after she rescues him and does everything in his power to find ways to communicate with her. The problem is that he's way too good at it. He instantly knows everything she's thinking from a few gestures, so once he starts teaching her to read and write, there is little payoff. I also found Marissa's method of writing confusing. Despite being a complete novice, she was able to spell every word perfectly with one exception, yet she constantly skips words. When I think of a child who is learning how to write, I imagine they would try to sound out the words and write a sentence such as "You are a nice man" like "U r a nise man." Marisa writes it as "You nice man." To me, this sounds like someone who doesn't understand English as opposed to someone who has never written before. She grew up in a lighthouse with her father speaking to her all the time, so there doesn't seem to be a reason for her to be unable to conjugate a sentence even if she doesn't know how to spell the words.

The book has some touching moments. I was amused to see the return of the duplicitous Princess Lavena from one of my favorite Camille Peters books, Identity, and to learn that she was still jumping from one royal engagement to another. It was also nice that this book humanizes her by providing more of an explanation as to why she is the way she is, which will likely be explored further in a future book. The guilt that Marisa held inside her for years is relatable to anyone who has experienced trauma in their past, and I appreciated the metaphor of getting her voice back as acceptance of what can't be changed and willingness to move on. Owen's unconditional support of Marisa despite her refusal to reveal her secret was endearing if not somewhat trite. The book is compelling from a psychological standpoint but has very little action, which seems like a waste for a story about a girl who has the ability to move an entire ocean. Even Lavena, who was supposed to be Marisa's romantic rival, was completely in favor of her relationship with Owen and had very little interest in marrying him herself.

Overall, Beacon is pretty similar to the other books in The Enchanted Kingdom Chronicles. It's a slow romance with some interesting fantasy elements that never get explored to their full potential. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been so perplexed as to why Marisa was so ridiculously powerful and why she didn't seem to know how to construct a sentence despite her lack of ability to speak. If you enjoyed Camille Peters' other books, you would probably like this one. It may also be therapeutic for people who struggle with past trauma since the story is so tame and non-threatening.


Sugar said…
I think it's important that there are books that explore trauma without being too dark at the same time. By the way since you like the Little Mermaid I finally chose "The Little Mermaid" by Jenni James it has an interesting twist to the original story and it's short that helped with the fact that I don't like the protagonist so much at first (she's like Ariel if she were somewhat selfish and inconsiderate) I also REALLY like the cover of "Head over Tails" by Brianna Tibbetts those pastel tones...
Lisa Dawn said…
Interesting! If you're looking for other "Little Mermaid" stories with selfish protagonists who grow over the course of their books, I recommend The Jinni Key by Bethany Atazadeh and Princess of Mermaids by A.G. Marshall. Both books have protagonists who are naive and somewhat self-absorbed, but I just couldn't dislike them! When you read the books from their perspectives, you understand the reasons for the actions even if they might seem dislikable from an outsider's viewpoint.
Lisa Dawn said…
By the way, the cover art for Head Over Tails looks a lot like the cover for The Tail of Emily Windsnap. Have you ever read any of those books?
Sugar said…
Thank you for the recommendations! I have those two books waiting to be read on my kindle, regarding Emily, I had seen those books on a Spanish page but the Spanish cover was really ugly and looked like a book for 5 years old kids, my reading range is middle grade to adult, so I ignore them.
Now that I see it's an middle grade rating, I'll read it!
Lisa Dawn said…
Interesting, I didn't realize there were other covers for it!

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