Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Mermaid's Mirror

Author: L. K. Madigan
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Release Date: October 4, 2010
Genre: YA Fantasy

This is a case where you can judge a book by its cover - it matches the cool, misty atmosphere of the whole book!

Lena is a normal girl living in her beach-side town - except that her father won't let her learn how to surf. And then she starts sleepwalking and finding herself on the beach, and she keeps reaching for something that isn't there. And then, on one of her solitary works along the beach, she sees a mermaid far off in the sea. Determined to see her again, Lena takes surfing lessons from her boyfriend's sister and goes surfing alone on the waves where she saw the mermaid - the most dangerous beach. There, the mermaid gives her a key, for which Lena sets about finding a lock. She finds out startling information about her supposed-dead mother, information that her father had kept from her all these years, and she goes to meet her mermaid mother when she calls for her. She joins her under the sea in the mer-village, but eventually has to make the choice between her land family and her sea family.

As I said, I love the atmosphere in the book. Fitting for a sea-side - and in-sea - setting, the feeling of mist in the air followed me throughout the story, adding to the mystical quality of the events. The tone is just so great. Especially the parts about Lena losing her memories - it happens so gradually, interwoven with the other events, that it feels real and natural.

And the characters in The Mermaid's Mirror are so real! Early on, I noticed that Kai has a distinctive voice and I could tell when he was speaking (or texting) without reading the dialogue tags. Although his is the most obvious, every character's personality is unique and fully developed, and I was able to feel along with them (or dislike them, in Max's case) the whole time.

The one complaint I have about this book is about the resolution of the problem. It seems to me that the main problem of the story, the one which everything else built up to and which seems to be the theme of the story, is solved very quickly without much explanation. It's a hard choice she has to make - stay with the mother she's been missing for so long or return to her father, stepmother, and little brother who are grieving so terribly - and I felt we should have seen her thought process more clearly.

Still, this is a book I think I'll return to, because even though I find it lacking in that way, I love the style and characters of the story!

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy for review!

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