Poseidon's Children (Legacy of the Gods #1)
by Michael West
Seventh Star Press (2012)
Maybe it's just me, but I don't read many books involving sea creatures, let alone mythical ones. One of those little oversights from my reading habits I suppose, so this novel was going to be a departure for me, at least in that regard. When I first read about this new urban fantasy from Seventh Star, I wondered if the "urban" actually meant Atlantis. I don't know if I could read an entire novel set underwater with mermen swimming about, so I was relieved that a lion's share of this book takes place above sea level.
Colonial Bay is one of those quaint seaside towns along the New England coastline. The island on which it sits is a nice little tourist trap just off New Hampshire's shores, but things turn bloody after a supposed shark attack and a young couple goes missing. Sound a bit like Jaws? Well, maybe if Jaws had a baby with Jason Vorhees, because what artist Larry Neuhaus saw from his balcony didn't look entirely like a shark--it looked more like a man.
Meanwhile, off the coast of Portugal, scientist and explorer, Carol Miyagi has discovered what she believes is Atlantis, relics of a long-lost city shrouded for centuries in a giant cavern beneath volcanic rock. The place is a veritable paradise for anyone in her field, but her claim on the spot is threatened as her team is running out of funding from their billionaire benefactor, and she doesn't want to risk having to leave the place unattended searching for more backers in case another team swooped in and takes the spoils. The billionaire in question, Roger Hays, however, is distracted from his business dealings because his son is one-half of that couple who went missing in Colonial Bay. As the assorted players converge on Colonial Bay, each for their own reasons, the violence escalates and it becomes clear that the town holds more than one secret, including a connection to that lost city, and there are forces at work attempting to let those secrets out.
Where most urban fantasy novels I've read focus on the viewpoint of a single lead character, with a deeply personal narrative most of the time, Michael West has created a story that is as much event driven as it is character driven, with several characters offering viewpoints for the action and mystery to play out. Michael doesn't hold back on the gruesomeness, either. The introductory scene involving the "shark" attack gives a pretty clear idea that there will be more horrific elements than what readers might expect from conventional urban fantasy. What comes as no surprise, however, is the richly laid out history of the underwater progeny that are making their presence known. And by the time you reach the third act, all bets are off, and you wonder just where the story is going to lead in the next book.
The ensemble cast, while engaging most of the time and offering several viewpoints, got mish-mashed for me at times. Just as I was settled into one character's take on events, the focus would switch. It didn't happen enough to really detract from the story, but it was a distraction for me at times. A couple standout characters for me really hit their stride towards the end of the novel, namely Earl Preston and Horror Show, a Coast Guard officer and hitman for Roger Hays respectively. Their interactions as the descendents of the underwater city come out of their shells--pun intended--and Roger Hays true intentions come to bear added a great bit of unlikely chemistry. Aside from them, I had trouble rallying behind the good guys, and really found the so-called villains to be the scene stealers.
It's a very good start to a series that offers a broad scope, but I have the feeling it will be the second book where the series really hits its stride. Poseidon's Children is a strong blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, and it seems like it's about time some Atlantian-style source material got the spotlight.