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Literature / The Waterfire Saga

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We’ve gathered here from sea and river
With a purpose brave and true
We vow to drive an ancient evil
From our home, the vast deep blue.

The Waterfire Saga is a fantasy series by Jennifer Donnelly, completed in 2016.

Four thousand years ago, Atlantis was a beautiful city where life and joy flourished. It was led by six powerful mages; Merrow, the charismatic queen of Miromara, Navi, a bright-hearted philanthropist, Pyrrha, a pyrokinetic soldier, Nyx, a Blind Seer, Sycorax, an Omniglot judge, and Orfeo, a beloved healer. The Six Who Ruled, as they were known, were True Companions committed to protecting all Atlantis.

Obviously, this didn't last. But as Atlantis was destroyed, the goddess of the sea took pity on its fleeing citizens, transforming them into the first merfolk. These merfolk lived on, gradually adapting to their new lives under the waves. Merrow, the only one of the Six to survive Atlantis' fall, took command and founded the realm of Miromara, the first of many kingdoms merfolk would build.


Present day. Princess Serafina is being crowned heir to the throne of Miromara, but a surprise attack interrupts the ceremony. Abbadon, a monster sealed away by the Six, is stirring once more- and only their reincarnations can kill him. The six teenage mermaids- Serafina, Neela, Becca, Ava, Ling, and Astrid- quest across their war-torn ocean, seeking the ancestral keys with which they can open Abbadon's prison.


This series contains the following tropes:

  • Geas: A bloodbind allows the merfolk involved to draw on each other's magic, but it commits them forever to a specific goal and each other's welfare. Bloodbound mer cannot give up on that goal, or attack each other for any reason. This compulsion is why bloodbinding is illegal. On the other hand, you can make a hell of a statement by telling someone that you are bloodbound to kill them.
  • Magical Girl Warrior: Like a European version of the trope. A team of teenage girls, half of whom are princesses, save the world with magic and The Power of Friendship. It will come as no surprise to you that the books were published by Disney.
  • Magic Music: All merfolk spells are sung, because sound enhances magical power and carries quickly through water. There are three types; mirus, used for elemental or complex magics, prax, used for basic or practical spells, and malus, Black Magic used to brainwash, steal objects, and directly attack people.
  • Royal Blood: One of the ways Miromaran princesses must prove themselves worthy is by meeting Alitheia, a monstrous sea spider who will kill them if they don't have royal blood. Serafina has never had the slightest reason to doubt her heritage, but Alitheia is so terrifying that she can't help but wonder.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Orfeo betrayed the rest of the Six Who Ruled by creating Abaddon to destroy Atlantis. His motivation for doing so is one of the series' big mysteries, deepened by the fact that his current incarnation (Astrid) is just as heroic as her fellows.