4.5/5 StarsTHREE WORDS: Enchanting, Lush, Mesmerizing MY REVIEW: A few weeks ago I reviewed another mermaid book that was unfortunately a miss, so I was very happy to discover a mermaid story that is a great big hit! Ciye Cho’s Florence is a refreshing and captivating mermaid tale that had me enthralled from beginning to end.After the death of her father, seventeen year old Florence Waverly doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere: not at school or even in her mother’s posh world. During a class field trip to the beach, Florence is kidnapped and taken to the mer world of Niemela. She’s meant to be a gift to the young Prince Kiren on the eve of his coronation. But Florence soon finds herself caught up in a fierce struggle between the Niemelans and the Darnkess, a dangerous enemy. She also finds herself caught between two brothers: the charming Kiren and his older, mysterious brother Rolan. Florence must summon the strength and courage she never knew she possessed in order to save this new world she’s come to love.Diving into the world of Florence was a completely enchanting and fantastical experience! Cho has created a wonderfully refreshing and imaginative new take on mermaids and filled his underwater world with delightful characters and electric romance.One of the things I love most about this book is how lush and vivid the underwater world is. Cho’s world-building is phenomenal! The ocean world of Niemela shimmers and shines on every page. I could image every color, texture, smell, sound or taste easily in my mind. There’s something absolutely exquisite and breathtaking about the world of Niemela, yet, at times, it’s equally chilling and forbidding. And I love that the merpeople in this world are not your usual Disney-esque mers. The Niemelans are beautiful in appearance with their multi-colored hues, and have an essence that is both mesmerizing and dangerous. These beings and this world are as lovely as they are layered. Cho has crafted a dimensional and believable political/social/cultural mer world as well. Florence is a really likable and relatable heroine. I loved her natural curiosity, cleverness and determination. She’s definitely the type of heroine that is easy to root for and whose journey readers will be fully invested in. Yolee, the young Niemelan princess and Florence’s “hostess”, is such a gem. She’s endearing, sweet and funny. I loved the close friendship (an almost sisterhood) that develops between these two girls.Prince Kiren and Prince Rolan make for two very different, yet equally enticing, love interests and heroes. Kiren is very charming and fun, while Rolan is more serious and thoughtful. I’m not a huge fan of love triangles, but this one never felt contrived or in my face. I ended up really liking both of these guys and appreciated Florence’s believable feelings for both Princes. There’s a definite spark between our heroine and each fella.Cho has created an awesome and sinister villain with the Darkness. This is an entity that is as captivating as it is eerie and frightening. There’s resolution in the conclusion, but it is also open ended and leaves plenty of room for a sequel…and I’ve been told by the author that there will be a sequel! *squee*MY FINAL THOUGHTS: There are quite a few new mermaid books popping up on the YA scene and Ciye Cho’s Florence definitely stands out with its originality, dazzling underwater world, engaging characters and intriguing villain. This is one mermaid book not to be missed!