A website dedicated to books in the Young Adult genre, featuring book reviews, author interviews contests and much more!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book Review: The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan

Reading level:
Young Adult
320 pages
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (October 4, 2010)
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

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 spent her whole life just watching.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf.

But her father – a former surfer himself – refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.

Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman—with a silvery tail.

Nothing will keep 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 …

Book Opening (Prologue):

"Lena woke up on the beach.

She knew she should feel afraid-sleepwalking to the beach in the middle of the night could not a be a sane thing to do- but the salt scent and roar of the ocean calmed her. The moon shone down on the waves, making them glitter like thousands of tiny lights flickering just beneath the surface, rolling over and over. "
Notable Scene:

Just my luck, she thought with a sigh. The one day I manage to snag a board and get away for some stealth surfing, the waves are almost un-surf-able.

No one was in the lineup, but there were four guys in wet-suits hanging around onshore. The size of the waves must have discouraged them.

Not me, thought Lena. She stood up. "Okay, mermaid", she whispered. "Here I come." - Page 126
Fifteen-year old Lena is surrounded by people who genuinely love her. Together Lena, her brother Cole, father Brian and step-mother Allie are all a tight knit clan. Surfer boyfriend Kai is crazy for her and she's been best friends with him and Pem forever. But though her life may seem sun-kissed and perfect, Lena is not happy. Her dad won't allow her to surf, something which she yearns for more than anything in the world. As her birthday approaches, Lena must make a decision- should she continue to respect her father's wishes or learn to surf? It's a dangerous decision; one that will propel her into a different life with consequences that affect her whole future. For while love can exist in both worlds, sadly, Lena can not. So she must must search her heart and decide once and for all-where does she truly belong?

THE MERMAID'S MIRROR  is a story about self-discovery, love, loss and healing. Much like the sea, the plot unfolds in a way that swells and ebbs when you least expect it. The California backdrop and surfing lessons added a great deal of enhancement to the story as well.  When I was reading the book, I wanted to learn to surf alongside Lena so badly. L.K. Madigan did a great job capturing the freedom and thrill of surfing. The vivid imagery made the scenes within the ocean spring to life for me.  I was right there with Lena, feeling the cool breeze on my face as if it were me riding the wave that first, thrilling time.  

Lena was an engaging character, struggling with the good and bad sides that we all have. Her relationship with Kai was a bit one-sided though and tended to frustrate me. While I didn't always agree with Lena's choices, I could still understand and relate to her. It was also refreshing in a YA novel to have the parents on the scene and not used as props in the background (or completely out of the picture altogether). The family dynamics were actually the strongest aspect of the book for me.  The way they supported one another, grieved and healed was beautifully written.

THE MERMAID'S MIRROR can essentially be divided into two parts: land and sea. The strongest section of the book for me was surprisingly that portion set solid on land. Once Lena became involved with the part of her life existing underwater, I felt like some of the suspense and mystery seeped out of the plot. Things also seemed to wrap up way too fast toward the end and I walked away without enough closure. I'd also love for Lena to meet up with Nix again - he was ripped away from me way too quickly. With that being said, it's important to note that the world L.K. Madigan crafted under sea was well written, simple and elegant. I enjoyed the merfolk culture; hearing their songs, learning their politics and survival rules. While completely different than humans, they were like us in many ways. I felt for Lena, the choices she was forced to make would've been difficult for anyone.
I hope that there is a sequel to THE MERMAID'S MIRROR.  Such a large part of Lena's heart and soul belongs to the sea, I would think love would eventually lead her back again.


L.K. Madigan lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, son, two big black dogs, hundreds of books ... and quite a few items of mermaid memorabilia.

To learn more about L.K. Madigan and her books,
visit her Official Website.


Bere said...

Fantastic review, Kim! This is the first review I've read on The Mermaid's Mirror and it sounds fantastic. I would definitely love to read it. Just added it to my wishlist. Thank you, Kim! =)

justpeachy36 said...

Great review! I really love the cover on this one and the premise for the story. I'm adding it to my Wish List.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I did like that opening line :)

Preternatural said...

This reminds me a little bit of Sue Monk Kidd and Carol Goodman's work. It sounds really good.