Poseidia is a dream. It is a vision that its author simultaneously builds for herself and shares with us. I do not imply that events in the life of its protagonist – Anna – are not real. They are very much so, and tantalizingly redeeming. The latter, in fact, is what I am referring to. Unlike actual dreams that tend to be vague (in sleep) or ambitious (in our wake), this book is a fictional account peppered with a more realistic condition – human emotion.
The story begins with a disturbing tragedy, as can be said of any ill fate that befalls a pregnant woman. This one, though, meets a resurrection of sorts – under water in a city of mer-people called, well, you-know-what. This is when we begin to truly enter the mind of Ms. J. L. Imhoff as she describes each aspect of this alien world of Poseidia to imaginative detail. Her first task is to dive into the anatomy of a newly-turned Mer-Anna or in other words, the mermaid version of our heroine. As she begins to explore her surroundings, we encounter gelatinous walls, cloudy floors et al. Soon enough, we hear of kingdoms, councils and yes, the lost city of Atlantis. Yet, none of these make the core message the author intends to convey.
To both credit and emphasize the need for control over emotions is meant to be the central takeaway here. It is touched upon beautifully through various windows. For instance, we have a would-be mother who has just lost her baby and has had a most improbable escape from death but still manages to pull a smile as her fingers trail along a new infrastructural surface, soaking up the cool feel of some mysterious shimmering material. On the other hand, we have a very casual dismissal of lost human treasures that now appear stacked up in this underwater city, refreshingly undervalued, under-cared. Or perhaps we can recall the principal requisite of being a mermaid/man – to learn to forgive and forget so that one may establish the psychic bond that binds everyone here. These are all different aspects of the same grappling need that Ms. Imhoff draws our focus to – control.
I called this book a dream. Let us not confuse that with idealism. The author treads on her objective cleverly, not sacrificing practicality for an easy ride. Therefore, we find Anna give in to her passion, guilt, fear or anger several times, despite actually being a far more powerful character than she had ever imagined herself to be – thanks to her history as is revealed much later in the book. The author has a brilliantly simplistic way of keeping us attuned to the above: she devotes much of the lines to Anna’s thoughts. It feels as if the book is talking to itself.
Imaginations demand a careful mix of the unimaginative to make them believable. J. L. Imhoff does not rush with her plot as she is clearly building this into a series. She gives us mere hints of what may prove to be central drivers later on. There is talk of other dimensions, an aggressively active exposure to near-complete nudity as routine part of life, and even the incorporation of human technology underwater, such as computer-controlled lighting, electro-receptors on the body and genetic engineering. But what really takes the cake away is the arrival of a cute, little character who is, if one is quick to calculate, part-royalty part-villain – all ingredients of a perfect entertainer. Dive in.
Book Review by The Fly
Edited by Malay Upadhyay for the s's!
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