A Magical Tale

The Mermaid’s Sister, by Carrie Anne Noble, (Skyscape), 237 pages, release date 1 March, 2015

The Mermaid’s Sister is a fairy tale. Not a clumpy, damsel-in-distress story that’s been told for generations. The Mermaid’s Sister is fresh and heartening—and the damsel is perfectly capable of looking after herself.

From the moment I started reading this book, I found myself slipping into its world with an internal sigh of pleasure. The prose is beautiful: unadorned, but with sparkling clarity. I quite honestly could not put this book down once I started it.

Clara and Maren are foundlings being raised by an old woman, Aunt Verity, a healer who is of part-fairy blood. Clara was brought by a stork. Maren arrived in a seashell. All three of them have known that someday Maren would turn into a mermaid. As this transformation begins, Clara realizes she will eventually have to bring Maren to the sea. She doesn’t want to lose her sister, but as Aunt Verity says, “We have to be who we are.”

Clara is helped in this undertaking by O’Neill, another foundling, this one raised by a traveling peddler. The three of them leave the girls’ mountain-top home, journeying east toward the sea. The don’t know that they are being pursued by an unscrupulous trio who run a circus and patent medicine business and who hope to use Maren in their sideshow. As Maren grows smaller and weaker, Clara and O’Neill struggle to save her, aided by Clara’s pet wyvern.

This book is marketed as young adult fiction, but it will make satisfying reading for anyone ready to embrace a bit of magic.