The Mermaid's Mirror
by L.K. Madigan
Release Date: October 4, 2010
2010 Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Hardcover Edition; 320 Pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
4 / 5 Stars
Lena has lived her whole life near the beach - walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves - the problem is, she's her whole life just watching.
Yet something keeps drawing Lena to the water...an ancient, powerful magic. And one morning, Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman - with a silvery tail.
Now nothing can stop Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.
And soon...what she sees in the mermaid's mirror will change her life forever.
I felt a deep connection with Lena, possibly because I feel the same powerful draw to water that she feels, and can completely identify with her feelings when it comes to the mystery and magic and pull of the water. I understood her blind panic when her father threatened to move the family away from the ocean and into the city as I would have felt the same thing. I have always thought that one is born with that connection to water and when you feel that pull it is very hard to resist. When I read about men needing to go to sea, I have always understood the reasoning behind it and the longing to return when they are on land. I am born a Pisces, so maybe that has something to do with that too.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and the characters that surrounded Lena. As a sixteen-year-old girl, she never felt completely at ease in her world and could never understand why. When she began sleepwalking and waking up on the beach in the middle of the night, she was terrified there was something horribly wrong with her, something that had to do with her mother who died under mysterious circumstances years ago, circumstances no one was willing to discuss with her. As she attempted to learn the secrets to her mother's past, she also had to evaluate her own feelings and to take a good look at herself in the process; I enjoyed watching her develop from a child into a confident teenager during this process.
I loved Ms. Madigan's lyrical writing style and found it very easy to connect with the characters and the storyline because of it. She fed us little tidbits of information at a time, little teasers, just enough to keep the reader interested, and because of that, I was rooted to the novel from beginning to end. I liked how Lena questioned her relationship with her boyfriend, Kai, wondering why she didn't feel some of the feelings for him she thought she should. It's good to see that in a novel as early relationships are often about self-discovery and not about finding 'happily ever after'. There are very few people I know who have married their high school sweethearts. I also liked how she put her friends first, and stood up for herself. She was also caring and sympathetic, worried about her friend, Pem, who was diving quickly into a relationship with a boy two years older than herself.
One of the highlights of the book was the visit to the mer village. I was fascinated by this other world, particularly as I don't think I have read another book like it. I was thinking about all the books I have read and I think I have avoided mermaid books for some reason. One of the things that did bother me was Lena's relationship with Nix; not the relationship itself, but the 'love at first sight' concept that I thought was going to be avoided in this novel, and wasn't. I was somewhat disappointed by that and it did ruin it a little bit for me. Don't get me wrong; it's not that I don't ever want to see Lena and Nix get together or anything, it's just I prefer the getting to know each other concept of love, and seeing love develop, not the infatuation type of love and "I love you" right now kind of love. Does that even make sense?
The Mermaid's Mirror was an interesting tale of young love, hope rediscovered, and friendship. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end and am definitely looking forward to the sequel when it is published next year.
L.K. Madigan's first novel, Flash Point, won the William C. Morris Award (YALSA).