Deep Blue, Book One of The Waterfire Saga

Publisher: Disney Publishing Worldwide

Year: 2014

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One the eve of her Dokimi ceremony, which will determine if she is worthy of the crown, Serafina is haunted by a strange dream that foretells the return of an ancient evil.

The Story

Serafina, daughter of Isabella, Queen of Miromara, has been raised with the expectation – and burden – that she will someday become the ruler of the oldest civilization of the merfolk. One the eve of her Dokimi ceremony, which will determine if she is worthy of the crown, Sera is haunted by a strange dream that foretells the return of an ancient evil. But her nightmare is forgotten the next day as she diligently practices her songspell; eagerly anticipates a reunion with her best friend, Neela; and anxiously worries about Mahdi, the crown prince of Matali, and whether his feelings toward her and their future betrothal have changed. Most of all, she worries about not living up to her mother’s hopes.

The Dokimi proceeds, a dazzling display of majesty and might, until a shocking turn of events interrupts it: an assassin’s arrow wounds Isabella. The realm falls into chaos, and Serafina’s darkest premonitions are confirmed. Now she and Neela must embark on a quest to find the assassin’s master and prevent a war between mer nations. Their search will lead them to other mermaid heroines scattered across the six seas. Together they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood as they uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world’s very existence.

The Inspiration

Can a dress change your life?

If it was made by the late Alexander McQueen, then quite possibly yes.

I’ll explain.

Two years ago, I was casting about for a new idea for a novel, and I was coming up dry.

Which is a terrifying thing for a writer.

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I’d written five historical novels and I wanted to do something new. Ghosts from the past  had inspired all my stories: A Northern LightRevolution, and the Rose books, and I was grateful to them, but I needed to get away from them.

Ghosts are beguiling creatures, but sitting with them in a room day after day is tough. They give you their stories, but take pieces of your heart in return. I was spent. I was done. My next story was going to be different.

If only I could come up with it.

Looking for inspiration, I went to the Met in New York City. The museum was staging a  retrospective of Alexander McQueen’s work. As you may know, McQueen was a clothing designer – a brilliant, troubled man who took his own life in 2010.

In hindsight, this might not have been the best place to go for ghost-avoidance.McQueen Dress

McQueen’s collections were shown in dusky jewelbox rooms and walking through them felt like walking through a dark fairytale. In some rooms, music played. In others, the wind howled and wolves cried. And the dresses – they were so beautiful and fierce, it almost hurt to look at them. They were made of cloth and thread, but of other things, too. Of antlers and skulls. Thorns, flowers, feathers.

And emotion.

Love, longing, desire, regret – these things were bound into every stitch. I could feel them. As I could feel him. McQueen. He was there, moving through those rooms.

moved through the rooms in a daze, past dresses inspired by history, pop culture, wild animals. And then I came to the last rooms, to collections inspired by the sea. And they  blew me away.

There were dresses that looked as if they’d been cut from white waves or fashioned from seaweed. There was a gown made of razorclam shells, another made of abalone. There was the sound of water lapping, and overhead – on a large screen – there was a video of a young woman sinking slowly through the water, her dress billowing around her.

Who was she? Ophelia? Viola? I didn’t know. All I knew is that I was spellbound by McQueen’s vision of the sea – a sea that was beautiful and captivating, but also treacherous and dark.

I knew then and there that I had to write a story about it.

But what would that story be? I still had no idea. I left the museum in a daze and took a train home. The minute I got in the door, my husband said, “Call Steve. Tonight. It’s important.”

Steve is Steve Malk, my agent. So, I called him and he said – and I swear I’m not making this up – ‘Hey, Jennifer, I have this project from Disney I think you might be interested in. It involves mermaids. And the sea.”

So yes, I was done with ghosts, but they weren’t done with me. Because to this day, I believe that Alexander McQueen sent me a gift from that great catwalk in the sky.

So there you have it. My new project. It’s a sea change for me on one level, I suppose, but to me, it doesn’t feel that way. It’s another story that has consumed a big chunk of my heart. Another piece of me committed to words. Another group of characters who have set up shop in my soul and are now family.

Deep Blue is as mysterious as its title suggests. And (hopefully) funny, carefully-wrought, and full of the emotion and the truth I try to bring to all of my stories.

I’m looking forward to sharing Deep Blue with my ten-year-old daughter and her friends. Theirs is an age group that I’ve long wanted to write for – one that’s fearless and full of wonder. Bemused by boys. Fierce about friendships. Standing at the borderlands of childhood, suitcases in hand.

I hope they find the mermaids of Deep Blue worthy travel companions, and that they come to love them as much as I do.

I hope you do, too.

View an Excerpt from Deep Blue:

Buy Deep Blue at, Barnes and Noble, or your local independent bookstore.


  1. Liz says:

    Dear Jennifer, I read Deep Blue a long time ago, right when it first came out. I’ve always been an avid reader and secretly had hopes to write something someday. I was ten at the time, so I didn’t fully appreciate the rich language or intensity that you were able to create, but I’ve been on a nostalgia trip these past few weeks, and I decided to reread the series, seeing as I had loved them so dearly when I was a kid. I’m seventeen now, and I haven’t really read a YA novel in quite some time, and honestly, I missed it.

    I’ve always been mesmerized by the cover of Deep Blue. I saw the book when I was at some school book fair, and as someone who frequented the library quite often, (by the time I graduated from elementary school, I had read all of the fiction books in my school’s library!) I was quite privy to fantastical creatures. I’ve always been fascinated by fairies and mermaids, sirens and sprites, etc., and in the split second I laid my eyes on that cover, I was hooked. I was going to buy the book. Even if the material inside didn’t fascinate me, (which it did, thanks!) I would have gotten it just to stare at the cover. I’ve always loved fashion (and as I begin to look into colleges to apply to, I’m thinking of majoring in Fashion Design/Marketing with a minor in Film or English– emphasis on creative writing) and the mermaid wearing that green dress submerged in water, with fabric and green kelp all spilling into each other, I was absolutely enchanted. I loved reading this blog post about McQueen, he’s always been one of my favorite designers, and I find it very fitting that his work was what inspired all of this.

    God, I’m thinking about your actual writing now, so good. I finished rereading the whole series in a week. Some of my favorite books are by Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, and the Bronte sisters. Your writing resembles that same, beautiful quality. Though the language is much more modernized, it still has that flowery feel. As an aesthete, I absolutely adored rereading this series. You depicted so many gorgeous cultures with a flourish that felt flawless, and all of your characters felt genuinely interesting. Everything was so rich and vibrant, and most importantly, it felt real. So thank you for making the past week just a little brighter.

    TL;DR: This is just a long, winded, love letter for the magic that is Deep Blue and the Waterfire saga.

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Thank you so much for this, Liz – it makes my day! Yes, Alexander McQueen’s work took my breath away and inspired much of the Waterfire Saga!

  2. Razia says:

    Hi Jennifer donnelly! I really love your books, and you are my role model! I loved this book, ever since I was 13. Actually, a friend intreduced it to me. So, I keep on reading, and reading. I think I’ve fallen in love with it.

  3. alexandria parsons says:

    I just read deep blue. This is not the typical direction of fantasy that I would usually approach but I finished it in about 6 hours starting yesterday and about 2 hours this evening. My brain is trapped in merl land. Interesting to go to the store and instead of thinking about normal things you are far off in another land thank you its been a long time since my mind has traveled completely to a new place as it once did with Harry potter and now with serafina.

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Alexandria! I know what it feels like to be living among the merls — I did that for several years while I wrote the books … and now I miss them!!

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      There are indeed crushes — and at least one true love! So maybe it’s not the right book for your cousin.

      • April says:

        I have been wanting to read the books for what feels like FOREVER!! I finally got the chance when I was at the library and saw ALL 4 BOOKS!! since we are only allowed to check out 3 at a time I got the first 3 I have had the books for 2 days so far and am already on chapter 43. I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I recently found out that there is also a movie but I haven’t been able to find the right trailer could you possibly inform me of where I can watch it and maybe the link? <3
        P.S. YOU ARE MY FAVORITE AUTHOR!!!!!!!!!!?????I'm a bookworm.?

      • Rebecca says:

        Dear Jennifer I loved your book it was so interesting I wanted to read the second book thank you Jennifer for making these books I wish you made another series of the deep blue we all love your book thank you for making it

  4. Alejandra says:

    Oh my gooooosh!!! I love love love LOVE the Waterfire Saga!!! It’s so amazing!!! I fell in love with the books the moment the first page of Deep Blue started with the dream of the river witches and the monster Abbadon. Ling is definitely my favorite mermaid.

  5. Abdulkarim Mubarak says:

    Hi am from Nigeria and I found it hard to get in touch with your books cos I really love reading them. So is there any alternative for getting the PDF or ebooks?? Am desperate in need of these books: rouge wave, deep blue, dark tide……

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Hi Abdulkarim: If you have an English library or bookstore where you are, maybe they can get them for you. Or perhaps one of the e-book sources (Amazon, Google, Apple) can make them available to you (I’m sorry, the publishing laws between countries are complicated so I don’t know if I am giving you good advice here!!).

  6. Isabelle says:

    I have all four books and have reread them at least five times now. When I was younger, I would love to go on the website and take the quiz, look at how the mermaids actually look like, etc. Now, I can’t find the website or the quiz. (The website I’m talking about is Is the website still up?

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Hi Isabelle: I think that website address now points to the book page on Disney’s site. (I don’t control that, obviously!) I have pages for all the books on my site, though — and you can find the quiz in downloadable form on the Rogue Wave page!

    • jasmina says:

      hello Isabelle but your books are in Italian, because I managed to read up to the second I would also like to read the last 2 you can answer me as soon as possible.

  7. Michael J. Huckstep says:

    Hi there Miss Donnelly. I’m a big fan of Water Fire since book 1 came out. And I gotta say it’s amazing! I love the characters and all the heart felt development you put into them and their own stories when they were getting the talismans. And all the plot twists are great and the way you describe their world is beautiful. You are a true artist! Thank you for writing these awesome books. But I think its time Sera and the merls got back into action. I know from other comments I’ve read you don’t have any plans for book 5, but if you like I’d like to bat you some ideas for one. I was thinking yeah have Lucia come back and start another war but the real villain is that dark priests she works with trying to resurrect Morsa. And to beat them the merls are going to need help from the decadent of the 7th sage of Atlantis. Merlin! Who’s heir is a human named Ashley. I think you should make the mere and human realms get more involved with each other. Like terrorists attacking Cerrulia with subs for Lucia and the U.S. Navy helping out Sara. Cause Ashley’s dad’s a captain. And she acts as a good bridge between us and them. She reminds them, “Hey your ancestors were humans to ya know. Before Mara turned them to meres. And from what I’ve seen your just as good and bad as we are. There’s no real difference between us accept fins and feet.” Too true right? I thought that make a good story. Please feel free to use or edit any of it. And maybe you could give Ashley a few books of her own before this dealing with surface magic like Morgana Leafy. To better symbolize 2 worlds coming together.

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Hi Michael: I’m not likely to get back to the merls’ world in the near future — much as I’d love to; I miss them! — but you might want to check out one of the Waterfire Saga fan fiction sites on the internet … and share your idea there!

  8. Danielle Spann says:

    I truly Loved these books! they were so captivating that reading them i felt as though I was apart of the story. It has inspired me to write my own story of mermaids. I really hope that one day you could continue this series! It would be even more amazing if they were to be a movie or series. I would love to see who could play the girls to get a better idea what they each would look like. Keep writing more stories Your an amazing writer!

      • Jazmin says:

        Hi I’m barely getting into the story and I have to do a 12 paragraph book report any ideas or advise . And can you please tell me how you came up with this amazing book well what I read so far . I think this is my favorite book. 🙂 thanks!!!

          • Marie MUshinzemungu says:

            Hello Mrs Donnely, I am a teacher and one of my 11 grade student chose
            Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly as an independant book to read, do you thinks it’s educational?

      • kamyra horton says:

        I only have one book and didnt know there was more at the end of dark tide was my favorite ” Good luck Astrid Kolfinnsdottir “

        • kamyra horton says:

          Is there a way for me to get the books i have no money because im a kid im turning twelve but how do i get them if i dont have and money

          • Jennifer Donnelly says:

            The library! Either at your school or in/near your town – I bet they can get them for you!

  9. Amelia says:

    Hello, it’s been a while since I’ve started to write. I am fifteen with a dream to be a write among others as yourself. I remember reading the waterfire saga two years and it was beyond enchanting to my emotions. It gave me inspiration to be one with my thoughts and ideas, to tell a story and illustrate a world I’ve created like the Realms of the Mer. Thank you for writing this amazing series.

  10. Olivia Wohlberg says:

    Your series is genuinely one of my favorite I’ve ever read in my entire life ? I always read it on my kindle whenever I go on a flight, and it gives me this really warm sense of wonder reading it. I was wondering why you have no plans for a book 5, as I sorely miss the characters 🙂

  11. Ashley says:

    Hello Mrs. Donnelly,
    I just want to say that this series has really changed my life. I actually picked up this series, but unfortunately set it aside when I was in high school. Recently, I decided to pick it back up and found this series not only set the imagination on fire, but it also inspires me to reach outside my comfort zone and reach for goals that I have been set aside. I went ahead and ordered the rest of the series and finished all of them about 2 days ago and I was wondering when book 5 would be coming out. Thank you, Mrs. Donnelly, for sharing this amazing world with us.

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Hi Ashley: Thank you for your lovely comments — and so happy to hear you’re stretching to pursue your goals!

      There’s no fifth book in the series in the works at this point — but maybe one day! I’d love to catch up with the merls again … I miss them!

  12. Haley K. says:

    Hello Mrs. Donnelly,
    I am a big fan of your WaterFire Saga books. As soon as I saw “Deep Blue” I was pulled into the world that you created. I begged my parents to buy me the rest of series. I absolutely love your books. I often reread them. So to my questions: Have you won any awards for the WaterFire Saga? I am also recommending your book in my English class. Thanks!
    – Haley

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Yes! Deep Blue won the Green Earth Award for environmental stewardship (, and I’m incredibly proud of this award. The series is very much a plea to readers to take care of our precious water systems and the creatures who inhabit them, and it means so much to me for the books to be recognized in this way.

  13. Arieona Holmes says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Im Arieona from Utah and I’m curently reading the first book of the Waterfire Saga series, Deep Blue. I never really like reading at all until I found this book and started reading. I am literally hooked to this book!! This book is my inspiration to read. And I hope one day I will be able to get the rest of the series. I have a couple questions. As I’ve been researching the rest of the series I found that there could possibly be a 5th book. Is there? And also is this series going to be a movie? Thank you

      • Nathaly Benavides says:

        I made it my tradition to read the series after Christmas each year since I got all the books in the series. This is my third year doing this. Each time I finish the series I also research to find out what’s next for the six mermaids.
        I get so connected with the characters every time I read the books.
        I never want to stop reading, whenever I finish the series it always leaves me wondering whats next for six mermaids what will they encounter next?Especially with Lucia still out their making plans of her own. My question is will their be a fifth book coming out soon?

  14. Anna Cer says:

    Dear Jennifer,
    Y\I love you so much, you are one of my biggest inspiration as a writer. I’m corrently doing a 17 paragrapgh boock report, and I had to do Deep Blue. The romance, tragideiy, and adventure was what I love most about the book. Thank you for wrting such a magnifient story. One day I hope to wrie as well as you.

    ~ Your biggest fan, Anna

  15. Salomé Laguille says:

    Hello , my name is Salomé and I am french I had read the waterfire saga and it was revelation for me , althougt the story is exciting I was touched by the universe and the imagination , I love reading books and I love also the story of the world. I am in awe in front of the universe of these books. I read these four books in four days. I have plunged into the books as the mermaids have plunged into the mirror. You brought me an extraordinary new feeling. Thank you for all.
    I have got just a question. Is there a sequel to the waterfire saga ?
    I am sorry for the linguistic mistakes this is my fourth year of English.

    • Jennifer Donnelly says:

      Bonjour Salomé! As of right now, there’s no sequel in the works, but maybe one day. I miss Serafina and the rest of the mers so much — and there’s still evil lurking out beneath the waves …

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