Transformation is the final book in Kara Dalkey’s Water trilogy, beginning with Ascension and continuing with Reunion, both of which are essential reads if you want to understand this final book. Previously, young mermyd called Nia from the underwater city of Atlantis came ashore in order to find Gobiath, a squid-like Farworlder that rules Atlantis. He is one of the last of his kind after Atlantis was betrayed by the evil mermyd Ma’el and his Farworlder Joab, and now Nia is an Avatar (someone with physic links to a particular Farworlder) and the only one who can save her home. In book two she met up with Corwin, a young boy who unwillingly also became an Avatar to Gobiath and helped Nia in rescuing him from the tyrannical King Vortigern.
Now the two of them face their final hurdle: together they swim down into the depth of Atlantis only to find the people enslaved and Ma’el ruthlessly ruling them all. Organizing a rebellion, they use Nia’s newfound power and Corwin’s upbringing of trickery and theft. They feel the only way to gain the upper hand is to retrieve Eikis Calli Werr, the magical sword that promises peace, and with this they race once more up to the surface world to defeat Ma’el and his terrible kraken.
The romance between Corwin and Nia was inevitable, but perhaps a little too simplistic, and the two of them are betrayed no less than three times in the course of the trilogy, rendering them a little silly for trusting everyone that comes along. Their mysterious parentage is hardly dwelt on (we never uncover the details about Nia’s mother, and never hear anything about Corwin’s parents at all) and so I’m not sure why Dalkey even bothered to put this in. But Transformation is a great end to an original and enjoyable trilogy, and Dalkey adds in some moments of genuine humour: “glowing sea snails!”
Corwin continues his role as the protagonist, as most of the events are seen through his point of view, but thankfully Nia has a few shining moments of her own. The villains come across as genuinely powerful and threatening, and throughout Dalkey sprinkled touches of real lore and legend. Overall, a good read, especially for young fantasy lovers between nine and twelve.
Whatever you do don’t read the final pages before you get there (I know of several people who do this the moment they get a new book), as the small twist at the end is ingenious. If you’ve had a sneaking suspicion all along that Nia and Corwin were familiar faces in legend, then you may just be correct…
Water — (2002) Young adult. Publisher: The sea is the birthplace of legends. Nia, a young mermyd of the Bluefin clan, has had one wish all her life — to be an Avatar in her beloved home of Atlantis. The ten Avatars rule the beautiful and peaceful undersea city alongside the ancient Farworlders, whose magic keeps their world alive. To be an Avatar is an honor and a great responsibility, and Nia dreams of taking her place among the noble ten. Now, at sixteen, Nia has a chance to see her dream come true. Atlantis is choosing its next Avatar, and Nia knows she is supremely qualified. But there is something Nia doesn’t know — if she gets her heart’s desire, it could mean the end of her treasured world of Atlantis forever.