This book is a 2007 Science Fiction & Fantasy Cybils Award Nominee.
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that does fade,
But doth suffer a sea change.
The Tempest is one of my favorite Shakespearean tales, and it is all about surface and depth. As is Peter McAllister's life: on the surface, he's kind of a middle-of-the-road kind of guy - pretty good grades, pretty good friends with Rosemary, pretty good life. Underneath, there's a hole in Peter's heart where his parents used to be. His uncle is away on business too much, and though Rosemary is his very dearest friend in the world, he's too afraid to cross the last gap between them. And can Rosemary really fill the emptiness of coming home to an empty house?
Peter tries to make the leap from friends to more-than-friends, and Rosemary panics. Their friendship is the anchor of her whole life. How can Peter be thinking of tampering with something to precious to them both?
Peter's heart breaks -- and then freezes. Now he's left with nobody.
Except... there is a woman, Fiona. He knew her, from before his parents died, he thinks. He recalls she was the babysitter. He dreams about her, hears her voice, wishes she would return to him. She loved him once, didn't she? Desperately seeking family, when the woman appears, Peter finds it easy enough to go with her. She says he's going home.
She says he was only a foster child in the human world. Peter is really a siren's child, and it's time to return to the world beneath the waves. Peter is seduced by the idea of a family -- his family -- waiting for him, and leaps at the chance to reunite with them. He's sure he will never miss land on the surface, that no one can truly care for him like his parents. He's sure he will find them in the sea.
But Rosemary doesn't think so.
Even though Fathom Five is the first of The Unwritten Books that I've read, I really enjoyed it. Peter and Rosemary's relationship rings true, and thus engaged, the reader wants to know everything about them, and roots fiercely for humanity to prevail. I did wish that Rosemary had been a little quicker to act, seeing as she did have another adventure earlier, but the reader doesn't have a clear idea of how long ago that was, so it may be that she has forgotten, except for the mark on her hand. Still, I enjoyed the action, non-sappy romance, and theme of knowing where one belongs.
As a bonus the author has posted an unpublished story in the Fathom Five universe. Rosemary's father has always teased her about Peter... until it turns out they're serious. Then Rosemary's Dad get serious too. Fast.