Disclaimer: I listened to the audiobook version of this book.
What can I say about this book? A lot really. I absolutely loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it!
You know how we always read stories where the main character is the chosen one, the magical one, or the one all the adventures are about? I was interested in this story for the very thing it’s not.
Auntie, the guardian of two young teenagers, tells the story a hundred times – perhaps more – for they love to hear it. She raised two girls from babes. The first arrived in a conch shell. The second was delivered to her doorstep by a stork. When Maren starts becoming a mermaid, it is up to her sister Clara, the stork’s delivery, and their childhood friend, O’Neill, to take her to the ocean where she belongs.
Clara is an ordinary girl in a lot of ways – beyond her odd stork-ish beginnings. She loves her family, loves a boy she realizes loves her sister and hates herself for her jealousy and her love, and she doesn’t believe in herself. She isn’t brave. She isn’t as beautiful as Maren. She fully believes she might become a stork, as her sister is becoming a mermaid. She is full of doubt and modesty, but beyond that, she is a loving and caring soul. She’ll do anything to save her sister. She’ll doubt herself along the way, but she will do everything humanly possible to see her sister returned to the sea.
That’s one of the things I loved about this book. Maren was a mermaid, a fantastical creature. O’Neill and his father, Scarf, were traveling people who sold their wares and told fantastical stories and played a bit of magic or tricks. Auntie was a healer with a bit of fae blood and able to cure anyone of any ailment they had. It was Clara who was the most ordinary of them all, unless you want to count her friendship with their pet wyvern, Ausbert. So many times, the main character is someone who is magical themselves, and it was so refreshing to have someone who wasn’t as fantastical as those around them – and still managed to find a way to use their skills to keep themselves out of trouble.
And trouble did indeed find them as they journeyed from the mountainside in their attempt to return Maren to the sea from which she came. Who wouldn’t expect trouble when one travels with a mermaid? Again, these troubles were – in their own way – magical and odd, and Clara was still the most ordinary among the people surrounding her.
I loved that there was no real love triangle. There was the possibility of such, but Clara’s feelings were always clear, even if she did try to deny the way she felt about one of them as she believed (with all her heart) that he belonged to someone else. She never led either boy on, and it was fantastic because it allowed us to see more of her personality. Her loyalty to her friends and her sister and her own feelings was amazing. No one could sway her in her emotions. She hid them from some, mainly the young man she had feelings for, but when the other young man tried to draw her out, tried to turn her affections toward him, she spurned him, and she spurned him hard. It was amazing.
There was so much faith and love and promises and magic and music and stories in this tale. It was, by all rights, a magical piece of storytelling that I can’t wait to read again.