Review: Mazarine

I had seen some Facebook ads in the past for Mazarine, a mermaid fairytale romance by Cece Louise, so when it came up in a recent holiday promotion, I decided to check it out. Though it is not exactly a retelling of "The Little Mermaid," this book has a strong love story with lots of fantasy and adventure. It is part of the Forest Tales series, which contains many fairytale-inspired stories set in the same world. Even though this was the only book I've read so far, I saw several references to characters who were clearly from earlier books. Mazarine is not named after the main character, but after the Mazarine Sea, which is the area the two protagonists travel through for most of the story. Unlike most mermaid stories, this book follows the "road trip" archetype in which two unlikely heroes must go on a long journey and get to know each other intimately along the way. I did not care much for the male protagonist at first, but like in Tangled, the heroine saw past his flaws and helped him become a better person.

Marilee is a naive princess from a human kingdom who sees the good in everyone she meets. One day, her blind optimism led her into a trap set by a mermaid she had trusted, causing her to be stuck in an endless state of transformation between a mermaid each day and a human each night. When she rescues a mysterious stranger from a shipwreck, she hopes that he will be grateful enough to help her return to her home kingdom and find a way to break her curse. However, Darius is in no position to help anyone, having completely given up on life after not being able to forgive himself for his previous crimes. When he hears Marilee's story, he wants no part of it until she tempts him with a reward for returning the lost princess. The rest of the book is similar to Disney's Tangled except that most of the traveling is done by sea instead of by land.

Although Marilee is a bit of a stereotype, she is a far more likable character than Darius. A princess who longs for freedom from an arranged marriage who is kind and trusting to everyone she meets is far from a novel concept. Darius, while more interesting due to his tragic backstory, comes off as a drunken swindler who has done horrible things in the past. The first conversation the two have following the rescue is similar to that of Galavant and Princess Isabella from the series Galavant, in which she wants to see something greater in him than he sees in himself. At first, Marilee seems like a fool for trusting someone who so obviously has only his own interests at heart, but at the last moment, Darius chooses to be a better man as a result of Marilee's undying faith in him.

Though most of the book takes place on a ship, its brief descriptions of the mermaid kingdom are vibrant and lovely, giving mermaid fans something to look forward to. Ondine, the mermaid who tricked Marilee, is a dynamic character who becomes a better person as a result of Marilee's influence. The villain of the book, who is revealed gradually, is a formidable foe who unites the two worlds of land and sea over a shared enemy. His revelation and later downfall are extremely satisfying. In the climax of the book, all the breadcrumbs and open ends that are peppered throughout the story fall into place like puzzle pieces. Every character must come to terms with their past and decide what type of person they want to be in the future.

In Mazarine, Cece Louise crafts a captivating mermaid fairytale romance. Set against the backdrop of the enchanting Mazarine Sea, the narrative deftly navigates through themes of love, forgiveness, and self-discovery. While Marilee's unwavering optimism and Darius's tumultuous past initially define their characters, their evolving dynamics offer a refreshing take on traditional archetypes. Through vibrant descriptions of the mermaid kingdom and the resilient transformation of key characters, the story delivers a rich tapestry of fantasy and adventure. As the narrative unfolds towards a climactic convergence, it seamlessly weaves together disparate threads, culminating in a compelling resolution that underscores the profound impact of choices and redemption. Mazarine embraces the allure of mermaid lore and transcends the confines of its genre, leaving readers immersed in a compelling tale of resilience and transformation.


Sugar said…
Sounds like an interesting book! I remember when we recently talked in your review of "Wish" we mentioned the villainous love interest or bad boy who is redeemed thanks to the influence of the innocent maiden with a kind heart I guess this fits.
I think it's a trope that works very well in "clean" or non-sexual books since that avoids that "he's taking advantage of her" feeling.
I recently found an author Meagab Spooner who has a retelling of Robin Hood (Sherwood) that I'm reading now (although I don't know if it will have a romance) and her retelling of Beauty and the Beast "Hunted" The book is one of the darkest and least "romantic" retellings of Beauty and the Beast that I have read but I really liked it, I usually don't love those "feminist" retellings with aggressive butt-kicking protagonists but I especially liked this approach that This is the first time I've seen Belle's friends and sisters address the issue of "are you sure you really love the Beast and don't have Stockholm Syndrome?" and where she thinks seriously about the matter and why it is not like that. If you decide to try it, I must tell you a spoiler (but without which I am afraid you would leave the book immediately) and that is that the Beast, for certain personal reasons, makes Belle believe that he seriously hurt her father, but he did not go.
Lisa Dawn said…
Interesting! That reminds me a little of Song of the Sea by Deborah Grace White because both have protagonists who defend themselves from popular criticisms of their story.

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