"The Other Nereia" is the second novel in J.A. Clement's On Dark Shores series which follows on directly from the finale of the first novel entitled "The Lady" which I have previously read. As Nereia lies unconscious, recovering from the injuries inflicted by the nefarious Copeland, her mind is taken to another plane of existence where she meets a being that appears to looks exactly like her. This other Nereia wants help to restore the damage within her own world, but this help is based around taking control of Nereia's body. Whilst she tries to come to terms with this request, the other inhabitants of Scarlock are faced with their own choices as Copeland's increasingly violent fall into madness and the arrival of soldiers within the town threaten to end the lives they all had previously known.
I was happy to see that the Clement has tried to progress the development of Scarlock and the various characters that inhabit the town. I really found that both the town and characters to be interesting, believable and easy to imagine which really helped me relate to their troubles. Without doubt, the main push of this novel appears to be in developing the characters and their history which is good as it was lacking a little bit in the first novel due to its short length.
The only issue with this concentration on character development is that the plot suffers a little bit due to the novel's short length. The overall progress made is very limited and whilst we learn a lot more about the characters and how they think, it didn't really feel like any of their individual adventures moved forward much. Don't get me wrong, the story is still full of dark suspense and intriguing mystery to the point that it was still entertaining but just don't expect any real forward momentum.
One of my biggest issues with the previous novel was that it was rather unsatisfying as an individual story due to its sudden ending and concentration on developing an overarching plot. Whilst the ending this time does feel a little bit more refined in terms of the point reached in the story, I still think it struggled to stand as a satisfying novel in its own right. In fact, the first chapter in the novel is actually quoted as being "Seven" which follows on from "Six" which was the final chapter in "The Lady". This to me really shows me that the author had no real plan to make the book stand alone in some manner which disappointed me a little.
Overall, I found this to be a rather interesting, if rather short fantasy novel like its predecessor, however it once again didn't feel like a story in its own right. I do think that anyone who has read the previous novel should appreciate the character development even it did come at the expense of some of the plot's forward momentum. For those of you who haven't read the previous novel, then I have to warn you that if you are someone who dislikes unfinished stories, then it would maybe be best for you to wait on the series being completed first. However, if you are interested in following the progress of an intriguing and enjoyable fantasy world as it is developed then you should look at picking up this series now, but just be willing to accept that each novel is more like one chapter of some overarching story.
(reviewed 61 days after purchase)