The Flowing Queen has always protected the people of Venice. Till now.
When Merle and her pickpocket friend Serafin overhear a plot to betray the city of Venice to the Egyptians, they are plunged into a thrilling race against time to save the Flowing Queen - and even Venice itself. But can a pair of lowly apprentices get past an entire mummy army?
...... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1, Mermaids): The gondola carrying the two girls emerged from one of the side canals.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 187): "What is magic but a kind of technology that most people don't understand? Either they don't understand it yet or they don't understand it any more."
KEEP IT OR NOT?: Ex-library stock, I shall be donating this to a charity shop.
The first in a trilogy of books, written in German by Kai Meyer and translated into English by Anthea Bell, I can't help but think that with the 'poisoning' of the canals of Venice as part of the story there is a subtle ecological message to this novel, whether or not this was the authors intent I do not know.
I think this is a first for me as whereas I am used to books that form part of a series carrying on certain aspects of the story into future books I don't think I have ever read a book where the story comes to such an abrupt end only to be continued in part(s) 2 (The Stone Light) and 3 (The Glass Word). Disappointing enough for me as an adult reading this children's book (it's aimed at readers between the ages of 10 and 16), I think it would be even more so for a child as, yes, we all like a bit of mystery to our reading but this left to many loose ends and questions unanswered.
A slow starter, it wasn't really until page 100 or so of this 280 page book that much seemed to happen and even then the plot at times dragged and, then there was the fact that I was left wondering why many of the characters and events had been included at all such was there insignificance - having finished the book I can only presume that The Flowing Queen was something of a scene-setter for the future books, with some of the events and characters only introduced at this point as they have a part to play in parts 2 and/or 3.
As well as the 'main' body of the story, the author also delved into the story of two of the characters ('mermaid' Eft and, stone lion, the Traitor of Old, Vermithrax, who to be truthful I found very touching and of much more interest than the other characters who, apart from Merle, remained a bit of a mystery.
The most interesting parts of the book for me? The breaking of stereotypes - everyone knows mermaids are beautiful creatures, and stone lions are, well, inanimate objects made of stone, right? Think again - And, having visited Venice, the author's description of the canals, St mark's Square and, most of all, the Bridge of Sighs brought back many memories.
The 42nd book read for the 100+ Reading Challenge.