Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic
on March 1st 2015
2014 Winner—Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award—Young Adult Fiction
There is no cure for being who you truly are.…
In a cottage high atop Llanfair Mountain, sixteen-year-old Clara lives with her sister, Maren, and guardian Auntie. By day, they gather herbs for Auntie's healing potions. By night, Auntie spins tales of faraway lands and wicked fairies. Clara's favorite story tells of three orphan infants—Clara, who was brought to Auntie by a stork; Maren, who arrived in a seashell; and their best friend, O'Neill, who was found beneath an apple tree.
One day, Clara discovers shimmering scales just beneath her sister's skin. She realizes that Maren is becoming a mermaid—and knows that no mermaid can survive on land. Desperate to save her, Clara and O'Neill place the mermaid-girl in their gypsy wagon and set out for the sea. But no road is straight, and the trio encounters trouble around every bend. Ensnared by an evil troupe of traveling performers, Clara and O'Neill must find a way to save themselves and the ever-weakening mermaid.
And always, in the back of her mind, Clara wonders, if my sister is a mermaid, then what am I?
How far can sisterly love take a person and is there such thing as too far in such a case? Those questions never occur for the mild mannered Clara when it comes to her sister Maren.
The Mermaid’s Sister is what I would think a modern day fairy tale should be. It is full of unusual people who are put in extreme circumstances that call on a perseverance of will and character to make it through. No, it is not modern in the truest sense of the word but, relative to more traditional fairy tales, it’s brand new.
As with many fairy tales, the cast of characters is relatively short. For this story that works very well as it adds to the feelings of isolation or separation at various parts. While the player list is shallow, the character are not. While they occupy many of the archetypes we come to expect in stories, there is uniqueness in their development and even a few minor twists and turns as we get to know them.
The setting of the story was never completely clear to me though we do find out bits and pieces about where they are headed at times. It is set in the U.S. seemingly at an earlier time in the country’s history. It put me in mind of The Wizard of Oz or Tom Sawyer as far as the era it came from. I thought that using a time where technology is so underdeveloped helped keep the story at a pace that allowed for things to seem as they were occurring more naturally. While there are times of urgency, the story is never rushed and we can see things and people for what and who they are.
This is a story that is definitely written with the younger readers in mind. I would caution that, though it does have a fairy tale feel to it, it is a bit violent in spots and there are some mature subjects discussed. I would have know problem letting my 14 year old read it that’s why I would rate it a soft PG13.
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