Book Review: Kerrigan’s Race (The Syreni: Book 1) by C.M. Michaels
I’m really looking forward to having children, but I want to contribute a hell of a lot more to our society than just my womb.
Kerrigan’s Race tells the story of the Syreni, the merfolk race that is now endangered because of the death of their last fertile female. They abducted three female prodigies in swimming for them to breed a new generation of Syreni. We see the transition of Kerrigan from an Olympic shoo-in and fiancée of a famous MMA player to becoming the future warrior Queen of the Syreni and the compar (spouse) to Aristos, Camithia.
This book is a mix-and-match of different genres such as science fiction, fantasy, mythos, romanticism, and erotica. Michaels wrote a picturesque world of Teresolee, the Syreni water world. Their ethos centered on praising the gods from Olympus, especially Neptune and Poseidon, their creators. Let’s get the biggest issue out of the way first. Sometimes the plot can get a little messy because of the different tones of the elements. Moreover, the story struggles to find its identity in the middle part of the story.
I was hooked by just reading the first three pages of the Prologue. The author didn’t hold back. From the start, it was action-packed and has a nice emotional grip. We saw from the earlier chapters the almost-perfect life of Kerrigan Everett. She has a loving family and an enigmatic yet caring fiancé, Austin. Just as she accomplished her biggest achievement in her young career, the Syreni people tried to abduct her and three of her friends. During the process, one got killed.
The beginning scenes are fast-paced. They don’t have the time to mourn the death of their friend because they felt that they needed to escape quickly. I really thought that the plot will revolve around that motivation. However, there are so many things that happened in the story. It is rich with great description, vivid world-building, and interesting characters.
I love both the leads, Aristos and Camithia (Kerrigan’s new Syreni name). Kerrigan might seem like a Mary Sue, but Camithia definitely isn’t. She earned everything that is given to her. She had to fight off a griffin with only a dagger, marry a general that she barely liked, forced to believe in gods even though she was an atheist, train to become a warrior, and even sexually pleased the gods! Camithia adjusted well to her new life and accepted her new role, becoming more badass along the way. What I love the most is seeing her progress but that slowed the story’s momentum a little bit. I definitely believe that some parts in the second act can be cut without having much effect to the story.
Aristos is one of the most likable characters in the story. He is valiant, caring, smart, and forgiving. He developed this infatuation with Kerrigan when he saw her revived a friend. Also, Aristos admired her bravery when she fought off a Griffin alone. Despite him still being in pain with the loss of Pulchra (his first compar, the former Queen) and his unborn daughter, he loved Camithia for who she is.
The characteristics of Olympus gods are spot-on just like in Greek myth. They are greedy, hates insolence, demanding, and lustful. But, Michaels also showed their good side. The Olympians are very generous to those who are faithful to them.
Last I checked, I didn’t have a fucking unitard on with a big S on the chest and gaudy orange boots.
I love the writing of this book. The humor and sarcasm are very clever. The sassy remarks are also inserted nicely within the context of the scene. The erotic scenes are sexy and sensual. The action scenes are nail-biting where every move is detailed. There are times when the information gets too overwhelming. The exposition of the details could be done much better.
The swarm of griffins that soon appeared on the southern horizon resembled the plague of locusts described in the book of revelations.
These metaphors took the storytelling into different heights. My only problem is the inconsistency of the tones. Michaels tried to incorporate a bunch of stuff in his writing. I think, cutting the romanticism and erotica scenes and just focusing to the darker themes could make me more invested of the story.
The Syreni people have a highly-advanced technology. At the same time, they still believe in writings on the tablet and the Fates. Most importantly, they dedicate their lives to the servitude of their gods. Camithia is no exception. She needed to take on her human form again and work for the priestesses in order to fulfill her duties. It only shows that rising to power, in this case being a queen, is not always given easily. One should work hard for it, even if it takes sleeping with different gods, goddesses, and priestess.
Towards the end, I was afraid that there will be no clear antagonist. Then, the Hive Queen got introduced as well as the treachery of a general. The action scenes during those moments are marvelous. The push-and-pull of the two leads made me sit on the edge of my seat. I thought that the antagonists could be a lot stronger. Although, it’s understandable since there is no strong build-up for their character and their story. We just figured out that the Syreni are not the only ones fighting for the survival of their species. Other races, like the Water Faes and Snow Elves, are striving hard to thrive.
Just as I thought the story reached its denouement, another scene, in the end, proved otherwise. The final scenes are epic and very tactical. It is it as if both sides are playing chess with king versus queen angle. The ultimate battle landed with a coup de grace, redeeming what happened in the prologue.
The main theme that is tackled in this book is how important the role of women in the society. Heck, even for the survival of a race. The Syreni’s culture is still dominated by man, despite their modernized society. All of that changed, with the citizen seeing the strength of women. At the same time, they still also view women as the bearer of their offsprings. Queen Camithia showed that she can live the best of both worlds.
I accept my fate—it’s our god’s will, and I’m their faithful servant—but not knowing when I’ll need to act makes it hard to focus on anything else.
Kerrigan’s Race also values servitude to higher beings and having faith. No matter how high your rank is, you should still bow down to higher beings than you. This book has a lot of alluring and impactful parts but it sometimes struggles with its identity and tones. Michaels created a world that is worth delving into and getting lost at.