Eel’s Reverence, Marian Allen has created a delightful fantasy world and a great cast of characters. The "Eel" is similar to our world in more agrarian times. Battles are fought with knives, fists, clubs, and crossbows. Travel is by horse or cart. Humankind and mermayds come into contact and conflict with each other in a complex, prickly relationship. The complexity of relationships is not confined to race. Aunt Libby unwittingly stumbles into the role of foil to an alliance of reaver priests who have taken over the Eel. She and the belligerent, brooding “tad” who befriends her must sort through a tangle human and non-human agendas.
I enjoyed following the adventures of her protagonist, Aunt Libby, an aging "true" priest of Micah, who grows tired of watching parishioners abandon the true faith for the showy temples of reaver priests. She intrigued me because she is not in the usual vein of the scantily clad and beautiful heroine. Aunt Libby’s naiveté, her adherence to the true faith, and her age are both strengths and weaknesses in the struggle to peacefully resolve differences between races and faiths.
In Marian’s world, nothing is quite what it seems. The machinations of the rich and powerful to control the masses is one of the oldest, but Eel’s Reverence gives it a fresh and inviting treatment. In the Eel, everyone has their own agenda and Aunt Libby is pushed to both resist and collaborate with the revers. Often her faith is tested. Her friends and enemies shift allegiances and forsake her at the most inopportune moments. Through it all Eel’s Reverence shines with humor, great pacing, and plot that is filled with mystery and tension. I highly recommend you read this book. Better yet, have someone read it aloud to get the full impact of Marian’s skill with language.