Book Reviews

Review: “Rogue Wave,” Jennifer Donnelly

July 2, 2016

I received this book for free from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Rogue Wave,” Jennifer DonnellyRogue Waveby Jennifer Donnelly
Series: Waterfire Saga #2
Published by Hachette on January, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Mermaids / Selkies
Pages: 313
Source: Hachette Australia
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

Serafina, Neela, Ling, Ava, Becca, and Astrid, six mermaids from realms scattered throughout the seas and freshwaters, were summoned by the leader of the river witches to learn an incredible truth: the mermaids are direct descendants of the Six Who Ruled-powerful mages who once governed the lost empire of Atlantis. The ancient evil that destroyed Atlantis is stirring again, and only the mermaids can defeat it. To do so, they need to find magical talismans that belonged to the Six.

Serafina believes her talisman was buried with an old shipwreck. While researching its location, she is almost discovered by a death rider patrol led by someone familiar. . . . The pain of seeing him turned traitor is devastating.

Neela travels to Matali to warn her parents of the grave threat facing their world. But they find her story outlandish; a sign that she needs to be confined to her chamber for rest and recovery. She escapes and travels to Kandina, where her talisman is in the possession of fearsome razormouth dragons.

As they hunt for their talismans, both Serafina and Neela find reserves of courage and cunning they didn't know they possessed. They face down danger and death, only to endure a game-changing betrayal, as shocking as a rogue wave.

Rogue Wave excelled in all the areas Deep Blue did, and then some. An incredible instalment to the Waterfire Saga, Rogue Wave has managed to do what many second books do not – surpass their predecessor. Having enjoyed Deep Blue, I was enthusiastic to continue on with the series. After reading Rogue Wave, I am firmly invested.

“Love was Merrow’s greatest power. And her mother’s. It would be hers, too. She would fight to the death for her people. She would take her city, and her realm, back. She would stop the evil in the Southern Sea. Not with terror, cruelty, and hatred, like Traho. But with love.”

There were so many characters within Deep Blue that at times I felt a little bombarded. As we focus on a group of six mermaids, I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to become familiar with each of them. With Rogue Wave, their group is scattered, and we are able to follow Serafina and Neela’s stories uninterrupted. While some people might be sad that we don’t learn much more about Ling, Ava, Becca or Astrid this time around, I think what this series is promising is a close POV focus on two characters per book. I’m hoping that with Dark Tide, as Ling is on the cover, that she and another one of the merls will become our narrators.

Like Deep Blue, Rogue Wave was incredibly well-paced and flawless in terms of action. I was 100% invested in the story at all times and loved the journeys – major and minor – that both Serafina and Neela made. Their journeys to find their respective talismans were thrilling; each taking on a different aspect of the world Jennifer Donnelly and Disney have crafted together. Serafina’s was shrouded in history and ghostly depths, challenging her strength of heart and Neela’s was hidden within her people’s identity, urging her to become strong and become her own person.

I loved, loved, loved learning about the world some more. In particular, Neela’s story enlightens us to the Mer-people’s struggles as the war descends upon them. There was a great band of warriors who were integral to Neela’s success and I loved this story arc for her. There is such characterization and individuality within these different folk and I can’t help but marvel and appreciate the way in which they are written.

“Around your limbs these ropes do wind, Just as your hearts these vows will bind. What the goddess joins forever. Is not for mortal mer to sever.”

Though I could see certain things unfolding one step ahead of Serafina and Neela, they aren’t things I could have predicted from the get go. One thing that surprised me was Blu’s identity – that completely caught me off guard. There are many twists and turns in Rogue Wave, enough to keep your interest piqued. It’s undeniably clear that this series has a well thought out, overarching plot and it’s fantastic to see the pieces clicking into place.

The only thing I am still on the fence about with this series is the romance between Sara and Mahdi. For some reason, I just don’t feel it – at times it comes across a little juvenile. Mahdi for me is not one of the more interesting characters of the series, his true purpose evident or not. I hope that in time I can come to appreciate him more, as it’s clear he’s an integral part of it.

I cannot stress how much fun I had reading this book. It’s also SO pretty, which is a bonus. Rogue Wave’s cover is possibly my favourite of the series and I’m so glad what was inside lived up to the gorgeous exterior.

Dark Tide promises some more twists – and answers – and I can only cross all my fingers and toes that it keeps on course with Rogue Wave’s level of amazingness.

About Jennifer Donnelly

Jennifer Donnelly grew up in New York State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester where she majored in English Literature and European History. Jennifer lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband, daughter, and three rescue dogs.


  • Reply Joy @ Thoughts By J July 2, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    I absolutely adored These Shallow Graves, but I don’t know what it is about mermaid books that make me hesitate in reading them. Absolutely agree that the covers are so stunning, and I can just stare at them all day. The artist did such an amazing job! I’ve noticed a trend where the second book in the series really surpasses the first one – glad to see that second book syndrome is not as regular these days! :)
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…Book Review: Vicious by V. E. SchwabMy Profile

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