Series Review – Waterfire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly


Deep Blue, Rogue Wave, Dark Tide and Sea Spell (Waterfire Saga #1, #2, #3 and #4)

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Publication: May 6th 2014, January 6th 2015, October 13th 2015 and June 14th 2016

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Format: Kindle Edition 373 pages, Kindle Edition 320 pages, Kindle Edition 400 pages and Kindle Edition 320 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Mythology, Paranormal, Mermaids

Read: June 2015, July and August 2016

Jennifer DonnellyGoodreads

Deep Blue Cover

Deep Blue

4 Stars

Serafina, daughter of Isabella, Queen of Miromara, has been raised with the expectation – and burden – that she will someday become ruler of the oldest civilization of the merfolk. On the eve of the Dokimí ceremony, which will determine if she is worthy of the crown, Sera is haunted by a strange dream that foretells the return of an ancient evil. But her nightmare is forgotten the next day as she diligently practices her songspell; eagerly anticipates a reunion with her best friend, Neela; and anxiously worries about Mahdi, the crown prince of Matali, and whether his feelings toward her and their future betrothal have changed. Most of all, she worries about not living up to her mother’s hopes.
The Dokimí proceeds, a dazzling display of majesty and might, until a shocking turn of events interrupts it: an assassin’s arrow wounds Isabella. The realm falls into chaos, and Serafina’s darkest premonitions are confirmed. Now she and Neela must embark on a quest to find the assassin’s master and prevent a war between the mer nations. Their search will lead them to other mermaid heriones scattered across the six seas. Together they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood as they uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world’s very existence.


Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
The story was really cute. Most of the time it’s light and fun with a sort of sprinkling of heavy topics. One of my issues is the fact that there’s a little bit too much information on the world, not enough plot action. However, it is very entertaining and has little romance for a YA novel. It’s mostly focused on female friendships.

Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
Honestly, the writing style in this book falls into the younger side of YA, almost Middle Grade. It’s really simple and filled with puns about mermaids and the ocean. However, it’s detailed, descriptive and pretty clever and it takes a special interest in feminism.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
This book and series has a huge cast of characters compromised of 6 main female characters and a plethora of side characters. In this first book we get to know two of the main characters closely.
Serafina can be thought of as the main main character as she’s the driving force to most of the story. She’s unsure and nervous and feels very vulnerable because her whole world comes crashing down around her. However, she’s also brave and mature and though she wishes she had a different life sometimes, she’s determined to fight for her people.
Neela is her best friend and she has a really girly personality though with a few issues. She’s a stress eater and has a lot of fears. She has the kind of personality where she looks for the fun and lightness in everything and tends to run when things get scary. Yet, she works up her courage and manages to be really brave in the end.
The rest of the characters are complex and diverse, in every sense of the word. They’re different in personality, looks, abilities and there’s even diverse representation involved with a disabled sort of main character. I really loved that and how they interacted with each other.

Rogue Wave Cover

Rogue Wave

4.5 Stars

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.


Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
This book definitely stepped this series up a notch. It’s intricate, exciting and action packed. It’s full of twists and turns that I definitely wasn’t expecting and betrayals that caught me off guard. I felt much more connected to the story and the world wasn’t as pushed on in this book. The romance was also increased in this book but it’s still not the main attraction.

Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
Definitely not my favorite of Jennifer’s styles but it’s really easy to read and fast to get through. It’s simple and still filled to the brim with puns. However, after the events of the first book, the characters are more mature and that definitely shows through in the writing style. It’s descriptive and fast paced and keeps it’s feminist edge.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
As we continue with the series, other characters get more of a spotlight while we continue with the original POVs.
Serafina is a lot stronger and a lot more mature. The events of the first book have definitely shaped her view of the world and what her part is in it. She’s brave and smart and determined but still very scared of the things she feels she needs to do. I loved that she didn’t just magically become a heroine all of a sudden.
Neela also has more of a focus in this book and I absolutely loved her character development this far. She was a ditzy, kind of ignorant sort of girl and in this book, she really gets down to it and becomes so fierce. She’s still bubbly and sweet, but she’s brave and mature and she knows there are things she needs to do for the good of everyone and she gets shit done.
Unfortunately, in this book, the other mermaids are very separated so we don’t get to see a lot of the others but there were some new characters introduced that our girls meet on their journeys and I really liked them.

Dark Tide Cover

Dark Tide

4 Stars

Once a lost and confused princess, Serafina is now a confident leader of the Black Fin Resistance (BFR). While she works on sabotaging her enemy and enlisting allies for battle, her friends face challenges of their own. Ling is in the hold of Rafe Mfeme’s giant trawler, on her way to a prison camp. Becca meets up with Astrid and learns why the Ondalinian mermaid is always so angry: she is hiding a shameful secret. Ava can’t return home, because death riders await her arrival. And it is getting more and more difficult for Mahdi, Serafina’s betrothed, to keep up the ruse that he is in love with Lucia Volerno. If Lucia’s parents become suspicious, his life–and all of Sera’s hopes–will be extinguished. Political intrigue, dangerous liaisons, and spine-tingling suspense swirl like a maelstrom in this penultimate book in the WaterFire saga


Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This book was a little disappointing after how epic the second one was. The plot is action packed and fast paced but definitely not as entertaining. It was sometimes boring and it lost my interest because of that. There’s more romance with more characters and it has a lot of reveals and twists that push the story along. There’s both heavy and positive themes throughout and it was an okay addition to the series.

Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
Again, not Jennifer’s best but it fits  the story. It’s on the younger side of YA, though not as young as the first book felt. It’s full of puns still since that’s the way the characters talk. It’s simple, descriptive and fast paced. There are more points of views in this one which was great and more romance (insta love) which was not, but what can you do?

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
Finally, I get to have the point of views of some of the lesser known mermaids, I’ve been wanting it since the beginning.
Astrid is the only mermaid who wasn’t really sold on her role in the prophecy and the saving of their world. She’d abandonded the rest of the group and tried to get as far away as possible from the mess. She’s really closed off as a person but that hides a lot of vulnerability and insecurity that comes from years and years of bullying. However, she manages to turn herself around in this book and becomes strong and determined to help the cause.
Becca is one of the quieter mermaids, we didn’t hear much of her until this book. She’s sweet and smart but also has a kind of obsessive and overly organized personality (okay, but does that not sound like me? haha). While being kind of meek and quiet compared to the rest of them, she gives a lot to their purpose and is just as or even more determined to make sure they save their world.
Sera in this book is completely overwhelmed with all the responsibilities that lie on her shoulders. Yet she continues. Ling is in a really tough situation and is struggling  to get out of it pretty much the entire book and it was kind of hard to read at times. Ava is the last of the mermaids and one that we haven’t heard from much but from the glimpses in this one she’s just as determined as the rest of them.

Sea Spell Cover

Sea Spell

4.5 Stars

At the end of Dark Tide, Book 3 in the Waterfire Saga, Astrid leaves her mermaid friends to confront her ancestor, Orfeo, the evil force behind the rise of the monster Abbadon. Orfeo possesses one of the six talismans that the merls need in order to keep the monster locked up forever. But without the ability to songcast, how will Astrid be able to defeat the most powerful mage in history? Meanwhile, Serafina and her Black Fins train goblin troops for battle against her uncle Vallerio’s death riders. Will Sera ever see her beloved home–and her beloved Mahdi–again, or will the Volneros take over the mer realms while Orfeo takes on the gods themselves? Nothing less than the fate of the underwater world is at stake in this breathtaking finale.


Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
After the slow third book, this one definitely picked up again. It’s action packed though not as entertaining as the glory that was the second book. There are quite a few slow sections and some more romance which is just not what I read these books for. It deals with deth, grief, friendship, family, hope and faith. Yet I felt like the ending was lackluster for such a fun series though the epilogue kind of made up for it.

Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
I’m running out of things to say about the writing style haha. It’s simple, full of tension and descriptive. It’s fast paced which makes reading go by really fast though the books are thick and with a lot of chapters. It’s imaginative though on the younger side of the YA genre. And there’s lots of POV’s that show you everything that is happening all the time.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
This book finally has the entire group of six mermaids together and it was really great to see their dynamic again.
Sera is in such a vulnerable place. She’s basically the leader of the fight which comes at a high price and a lot of pressure on her shoulders. She’s determined to get her kingdom back and while she’s brave and strong, she’s also weighed down a lot by everything going on around her. I’m glad she finally started to trust her partners in this book because she needed it.
Astrid is also one of the ones with the biggest character development. She deals with a lot alone, and she’s nervous and discouraged really easily. However, she manages to push past those tough feelings and is determined to save her world. She learns to take the encouragement from her friends and to trust them to keep her secrets and truths safe.
Honestly, this series has some amazing depictions not only of female friendships and the different kinds they can be but also of character development and how people and your experiences can change you for the better. I’m a fan.


This series wasn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever read but it’s so much fun and I loved the messages and themes it presents.

The first book was a really fast, cute read that had a lot of deep themes. The plot is cute but intense. Yeah, I know, weird combination. I’ll explain. We follow Serafina, the Princess of Miromara, whose kingdom, on the day of her Dokimi ceremony (kind of like a proof of the bloodline/coronation), is attackd and her mother and father are shot. Chaos ensues and Sera and her best friend Neela go on a quest to try to stop the war in the mer nations. This book starts off really slow and kind of daunting. This world while kind of cheesy is really complex and unfortunately that explanation is given to you almost bombarded to you in the first few chapters. You have to get used to the terms, the imagery, the culture almost all in one go and yet it was really slow in the beginning. Then the action starts and the pace picks up and it becomes much easier to get sucked into what is going on. Basically, this book is about six mermaids who are brought together to learn about a prophecy and to defeat it before it comes true. It’s the setting up of the world, and the characters and what to expect with the rest of the series. It builds up what’s to come in the next books and ends with a bang. While the way the worldbuilding was set up wasn’t the best, I really appreciated how expansive it was. Think of it as the world we know but underwater. Similar kingdoms in the oceans of the countries that recide in our world with familiar but mermaid style slang that’s cute, funny yet sometimes annoying at the same time. There is so much diversity within the characters as each girl comes from a different underwater kingdom, each has a different gift and personality and each is battling with their own fears and set backs. There’s also a lot of feminist ideals woven in through the whole book, like matriarchal socities, which is pretty freaking awesome. I really enjoyed the ride. Serafina is a poor teenager with a lot of responsability. As the heir to a matriarchal society, she has a lot on her shoulders and it only gets worse once her parents die and her world is turnd upside down. She’s never been 100% sure of what her life is going to be and if being queen is something she can really do and do well. She has a tendency toward indecision and nervousness but she constantly pushes past it to be strong because she knows she needs to be. She becomes the sort of leader in this band of six, subconsciously and reluctantly all at the same time. I feel like she’s the one who will have the most trials to go through in the series. One of my favorite things about this book is the fact that there is no romance. I’m not saying there isn’t a love interest for a main character, but that’s not really something that matters in this first book. The girls have much more to worry about than boys to be honest, and it’s pretty awesome.

The second book is the one that got me interested in the series because of it’s cover and I liked it better than the first. The plot is divided. The six mermaid descendants from the mages who governed were separated at the end of the first book and they are now on the search for the six talismans that are meant to help them defeat the evil that destroyed Atlantis. In this book, we follow Serafina, Neela and Ling and I have to say that it ws amazing to see more of this underwater world. One of my favorite things about this series is how expansive this world is and how much history it has, and how that connects to stories and legends that we already know. It has a really creative image and it was built and expanded upon in this book very well. It’s almost like a reflection on our world but under the sea. It’s so complex and interesting, I loved it so much! In this book, not only do we get to see the girls travel to different parts of the world in search for their salvation, we also get to see what’s happening back in Serafina’s home of Miromara and who our villains really are. There’s a major betrayal involved which I didn’t see coming at all. It made for an interesting plot twist in the series and got me really interested in how the rest of the series was going to play out. There’s also more of an adult presence in this book as Neela goes back to her home to try and get help for their cause. But because of her personality, she doesn’t get taken seriously by anyone and instead is almost jailed in her own room since everyone thinks she’s crazy. I love how that changed her and pushed her to grow and how it helped create an image of all the different cultures within these mimiced underwater worlds. She takes matters into her own hands and it’s absolutely awesome! On Ling’s side of the story, things get really intense when she gets captured by the enemy and she finds out who is really behind everything that’s going on which I did not see coming AT ALL and it was FREAKING CRAZY ya’ll. One of the things I liked about the first book is that the romance didn’t have that much of a spotlight but unfortunately, that didn’t last. One relationship in particular shows up and has a huge plot point and to be honest, it felt really rushed and pushed to its limits. It developed really quickly and while though I understand why and it made sense to the story it still felt like it went too fast for how young the characters are and how much they’re going through. Serafina is great in this book. She’s determined to save her kingdom and pretty much does everything it takes to make sure it happens. She still has bouts of insecurity which are totally and completely understandable and true to character but she’s working through it. However, Neela is definitely the character that steals the show in this one. For having such a passive personality and being completely terrified in the first book, her growth in this one is unbelievable. She’s determined and fierce and smart. She finds other ways to deal with her anxiety besides stress eating and it just completely blew me away to be honest. The ending was insanity and I think this is my favorite book in the series overall.

This third book as well as the series is getting a bit darker and while this wasn’t as action packed as I wanted or expected, I still enjoyed it. The plot is revealing. We dive back into the story and follow several of the mermaids as they continue to search for the powerful talismans. Each girl kind of takes on a different challenge that pushes them out of their comfort zone and makes them grow as individuals. Sera is now a fierce leader of a rebellion but things aren’t turning out as smoothly as she wants them to. She’s having to scramble to figure out how to save her kingdom while also trying to make sure she keeps the people that are counting on her fed and safe and warm and in top shape to go into war which is what it’s going to come down to. It’s a lot of pressure to have only on one person’s shoulders and it slowly strts to affect her body and mind. She needs to learn how to delegate and how to trust the people around her that want to help, she doesn’t need to do it all alone. Ling goes through an excrutiaing ordeal that brings her an unpleasant surprise. She’s unlucky enough to get placed into a work camp by the enemy and has to work hard to survive as well as find a way to escape to be able to get her hands on the talisman she needs. These parts in particular were very hard for me to read because they’re very similar to things that have happened in our own history. It really brought a “humanity” angle to these mermaid races which isn’t actually the best thing in the world but made it easier to connect with the story that was kind of slow at times. Astrid is struggling with her confidence and keeping a deep secret. I’m glad she made of an appearance in this book, her leave was something that interested me a lot and I wanted to see if she would find the courage to come back and join the other girls. It definitely didn’t happen the way I thought it would, it took a big shock for her to snap out of her fear but I’m glad to see her journey and I hope she continues to grow and blossom. This book wasn’t as exciting or action packed as the ones before it, though it definitely had it’s moments. This one was more about catching up with all the different important players in the series and seeing all the pieces moving and what is happening. I would’ve loved more from this book, but it still managed to keep me entertained. The books used to center around Sera and Neela, but starting with this one, it branches out to the rest of the girls which I’ve wanted since the beginning. They’re all so different, not only from each other but from how they were in the beginning of the series. I loved how much development there is for the main girls and how it really focuses on their connection as a unit and their mission.

I’m really glad that I’m marking this series complete with the fourth book but this finale wasn’t what I was expecting. The plot is too long. Our six mermaids are readying up for the two biggest battles of their lives. Taking back Miromara and defeating Sera’s uncle and finally killing Abbadon and saving their realms. They’re up against crazy, impossible odds but they have no other choice. I was expecting this finale to be a lot more exciting than it actually was. These books have a tendency to be really long, with a lot of chapters, but for some reason I was expecting this one to get to what we’ve been waiting for this entire time much quicker than it did. It just took too long to get the battles started and that’s basically what the reader is waiting for as soon as you open the first page, since it’s  the finale. It was still action packed but there were a lot of luls in the plot and side scenes that didn’t really have to do with the big picture that just took too much time away from what I really wanted to know. When it finally came down to it, it was almost like I was already too bored to really care about the battles that were going on. Things happened a bit too conveniently for their plans which felt unrealistic but still obvious since it is a YA series. The ending itself was a bit lackluster and cheesy. I expected the fighting to be bigger, more intricate and to take up much more of the bulk of the story. However, the epilogue was really interesting though vague and left space open for a companion or spin off series since there were some loose ends that weren’t taken advantage of. This series is more about the characters and I really liked them. Each girl was special in their own way which was obviously on purpose but still really cute. They were all different and had something unique to their mission and how they each helped make it happen. All of them grow a lot throughout the series though we put more attention on some of them more than the others. Even with the different mentions of the romance with several of the different characters, this book was all about female friendships and girl power. It was so refreshing and just joyful to read a book all about girls kicking butt and growing and being brave even in front of adversity.

Overall, this series is really fun and I’m glad I read it. The plots are not that consistent, going from crazy action packed to sometimes lulling in movement, but they were all in general entertaining. I really liked the characters and how different they were and how much they grew throughout the series. But my favorite part of this series is how much the subject of girl power and female friendship was represented and made important. It was really refreshing and entertaining.

So that’s it for this post! Let me know if you’ve read this series or if you’re interested in reading it after reading my review. Jennifer Donnelly is becoming one of my favorite authors even if I don’t completely love all the books I’ve read from her, though I definitely recommend her book These Shallow Graves. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!

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6 thoughts on “Series Review – Waterfire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly

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