Enthralling adventure under the sea

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 August, 2006, 12:00am

Writers have been scrambling to find original settings for their novels recently. Parallel worlds, future worlds, magic worlds - they have all been used as story backgrounds to a range of successful and not-so-successful books. Is there anywhere left that an imaginative author can use as a setting to a fresh story?

In The Tide Turner, Angela McAllister has come up with an intriguing answer to this problem. And she introduces her fictional world with a clever trick that will stop you in your tracks.

Cal lives alone with her father. Her mother died when she was born, and now Cal has reached the age when she wants to know more about her mother. But her dad is guarded and stops Cal every time she tries to ask questions.

Cal senses that her father has secrets that he is unwilling to share. There is only one thing that Cal can do: she has to piece together the few clues she has about her mother's life, leave home and do a bit of detective work on her own.

It is only at the end of the first chapter of The Tide Turner that we realise that this initial story set-up has taken place under the sea. It comes as quite a surprise to discover that Cal and her father are not who we thought they were. After this clever hook, The Tide Turner takes off along an very intriguing path.

Cal is a Silvertail, a breed of mermaid. She is unaware that before she died, her mother dedicated her daughter's life to the Merrows, an undersea force committed to fighting evil under the ocean. Cal has a destiny that she doesn't know how to cope with.

By chance, Cal meets Jake, a land boy who has the strange power to live in the ocean. Just like Cal, there are questions in Jake's past that remain unanswered. He has been brought up on land by a couple of fisher folk who found him as a baby in an abandoned boat.

There is a legend among the merfolk that speaks of a special Tide Turner who will appear from nowhere and save their world. Could Jake be this saviour?

Perhaps Cal's meeting with Jake was meant to happen, and perhaps the two of them have an important part to play in ensuring that the merfolk can live in peace under the oceans.

The Tide Turner is an exciting adventure story that involves all sorts of twists and turns. There is danger for Cal and Jake in every dark cave on the ocean bed.

The vicious Bloodfins are not out for a pleasure swim as they stalk their prey. The tuna and the deadly marlin pose unexpected threats. And in the shadows lurks Orcara, the creepy sea-witch who has reasons of her own to hunt down Jake and Cal.

Angela McAllister has created a stunning underwater world in The Tide Turner. She navigates her aquatic story with a creative confidence that lights up the imagination.

The plotting is tight and exciting. Add the richly drawn characters and wonderfully cinematic descriptions and you have an enthralling and strangely serene read.

The Tide Turner

By Angela McAllister

Published by Orion

ISBN 1 84255 122 1

John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com