by Carrie Anne Noble
Review by KM
Look at this gorgeous cover; it was immediately attention-grabbing and rendered it inevitable that I’d be picking the book up. I know that we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but gosh, that one certainly makes the idea appealing.
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?
One of the aspects I loved, but had a hard time getting around, was the style and diction. The Mermaid’s Sister is written like an old-time fairy tale, the kind you’d find in a Grimm’s book, though not as gory. The antiquated way of speech is a delightful novelty, but definitely threw me off when I was expecting more of a modern-fantasy (though, I admit that expectation was my own assumption and my fault).
Clara, our main character, is a humble and quiet girl, always thinking of her gorgeous sister. Maren, on the other hand, is the dazzling personality that Clara seems to admire. Through the first half of the book, I wanted to smack Clara upside the head and demand she give herself more respect — you are always braver, smarter, and better than you think.
The first half of the book was slow-winded, revealing secretly and allowing the plot to advance at an enjoyable, if somewhat too-patient pace. As soon as the orphans were on their own, it quickened and became so much better.
Between wyverns, ravens, mermaids and storks, this was a truly original story that I can’t even place a match near. Well, nothing recent. A true treasured anachronism in this time, I suppose.