The Mermaid's Sister
by Carrie Anne Noble
Published: March 1st 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Paperback (236 pages)
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: Maren is becoming a mermaid and must be taken to the sea or she will die. So Clara, O’Neill, and the mermaid-girl set out for the shore. But 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 Maren.
And always in the back of her mind, Clara wonders, if my sister is a mermaid, then what am I?
“If my sister is a mermaid, then what am I?” says the the back of The Mermaid’s Sister. And I went “OMG we’re going to go into some crazy magic or mythology where they hunt down their parents and find out why their biology is different!!” Yeah, no. That didn’t happen. They’re adopted sisters. Once I got over that disappointment, it’s a well written story with a very bland plot. I knew how it would end very early on and there wasn’t a twist to surprise me. Her sister is turning into a mermaid and the story is about taking her back to the ocean. And then they do. They do get kidnapped by a traveling side show on the way that had a Pinocchio vibe to it, but I wouldn’t call that a twist. More like an obstacle along the way. There just wasn’t much conflict going on in the story. I felt like there was barely enough tension to keep me going.
A theme in the book is “There is no cure for being who you truly are.” And I couldn’t help but think that 1) that is so great and so true but 2) if she’s a mermaid, why bother with growing up on land? That would be an interesting question to explore but it’s never even brought up anywhere in the story, let alone answered.
The writing is gorgeous. Here’s a quote from the mermaid’s sister talking about how sad she is that she’s going to lose her:
“I hear nothing but the sound of my heart breaking into a million tiny pieces, each smaller than a single grain of sand.”
– Carrie Anne Noble, The Mermaid’s Sister pg 58
All the symbols in the book relate back to the ocean which made it so rich and beautiful. It has a vintage voice and style. I felt like I was reading a long-lost fantasy written by Jane Austen. The slow transformation of the girl into a mermaid was very well done. Almost every chapter ends with some kind of wish which I thought was lovely.
Overall, it’s a very cute story but it was also very predictable which I’m not a huge fan of.
Book Review of The Mermaid’s Sister on a Post-it