Ice Crypt

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Ice Massacre. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Ice Crypt was written by Tiana Warner and first published in 2016. It forms the second part of the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai series, following Ice Massacre (2015) and preceding Ice Kingdom (2017). The story follows the continuing adventures of Meela and Lysi as they try to end the war between their two races, and so I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Following her return from the Massacre, Meela knows that she needs to do something to end the fighting. She believes King Adaro’s claim about the existence of the Host – a powerful creature that has been hidden beneath Eriana Kwai. Although she knows that she can’t allow the mermaid king to harness such power, she wonders if she can find a way to turn it against him to save Lysi.

Meanwhile, Adaro has punished Lysi by sending her away from Eriana Kwai – battling alongside the mermen to quell a rebellion to the south. Although she is reunited with her childhood friend Spio, she yearns to be back with her lover. She knows that Adaro plans to have Meela and her people destroyed but can do nothing to stop it.

However, Meela and Lysi could be brought together again much sooner than anyone could imagine. As the date for the next Massacre is brought forward, Meela and her friends must hurry to find the Host before any more girls can be killed. Meanwhile, Lysi finds herself working alongside a group of rebels who have plans to assassinate Adaro…

Ice Crypt is certainly a very strong sequel to Ice Massacre, but it should probably be noted that it is a novel of a different kind. The first book in the series was a horror story. It was set almost exclusively on a boat and contained some pretty brutal scenes. Ice Crypt was nowhere near as dark. Instead, it took the time to focus on Meela and Lysi individually as they embarked on separate adventures. For Meela, this takes the form of a mystery. For Lysi, this gradually becomes a dangerous assassination plot.

While the first book explained what life was like for the humans that lived on Eriana Kwai and the reason why the Massacres were necessary, Ice Crypt gives more of an idea of what life is like under the sea. By adding Lysi’s perspective, it becomes clear that mermaids are not the monsters that humans believe them to be. We get to see exactly what Adaro’s war is doing to his people and that, when not engaging in the Massacres, mermaids are actually fairly down-to-earth individuals.

My only really issue was that the tone of mermaid society felt a little cutesy in places, which did clash a little with how they were portrayed in the first book. Although Lysi is sent to the front-line as a punishment, it doesn’t actually feel that bad. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of combat going on and she spends most of her time befriending other soldiers or training sea creatures. When compared to the horrors that she faced in the first book, her punishment feels a bit uninspired.

Yet Meela’s mission was a lot more engaging. I enjoyed following the mystery of both the identity and resting place of the Host, as well as the escalating sense of urgency. While Lysi’s mermaid allies don’t seem that scary, Dani has certainly gone off the deep end. She was frightening in the first book but the glimpse that we have of her training the new recruits is nothing short of grim. As the day of the Massacre draws near, it becomes clear that Meela must succeed if she wants to have any chance at averting a massive loss of life for both humans and mermaids alike.

Ice Crypt maintains a steady pace throughout, with frequent scenes of action and a sense of constant tension that more than holds the reader’s interest. Even though it is the middle novel of a trilogy, it does a great job of developing the themes of the first book, deepening the mythology of Eriana Kwai and introducing an even greater threat to be combated in the final instalment.

The novel also ended on a very strong note which nicely wrapped up this phase of Meela and Lysi’s adventure. While I won’t spoil anything here, I will just say that the final few chapters contained some really exciting plot twists that I did not see coming. They did a really great job of setting a clear direction for the final instalment to take and made me really excited to find out what will happen to the protagonists next.

Yet the strongest aspect of this novel is its characterisation. While Meela and Lysi are similar in many ways, they still have very different voices and thus form a really compelling pair of female protagonists. My only real problem with this instalment is how little time they spend together. While you certainly feel their attraction to each other, even over the vast distance, we don’t get to see their relationship developing at all.

Yet we do get to see plenty of them interacting individually, as well as how their actions can influence the people around them. Although their sphere of influence is pretty small, we do see that Meela and Lysi are not unique. There are others close to them who would be happier if the war ended and would not be averse to friendships between humans and mermaids.

The novel also contains a lot of memorable secondary characters, from the complexity of Dani’s psychosis to the light-hearted comedy that Spio provides. Ice Crypt contains a diverse cast of unique personalities. Yet the characters that moved me the most were Meela’s parents. I loved their reactions to finally learning both about Lysi and their daughter’s sexuality. It was a wonderful scene that really gave me hope for a happy ending for the series.

The only character that I felt was a little weak was King Adaro. While Dani is a complicated antagonist, Adaro did not make much of an impression as the primary villain. While he is frightening, there just does not seem to be much to him. He just seems to be power hungry – determined to be the rule over all of the seas. Beyond that, he doesn’t seem to have any deeper motivation.

Anyhow, I think that’s about all that I have to say. I really enjoyed reading Ice Crypt and would certainly recommend the series so far to all fans of dark fantasy stories. I certainly can’t wait to get my hands on the final instalment of the trilogy.

Ice Crypt can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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