Books Review

Review: Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

December 20, 2011

I love mermaids. As a child, I really wanted to be friends with Ariel and Flounder and Sebastian. Heck, I kind of wanted to be Ariel. Who wouldn’t? So one can imagine how excited I am that mermaids are growing in popularity again and are poised to become the next big trend. One of the more recent mermaid books I’ve read is Jaclyn Dolamore’s Between the Sea and Sky, published by Bloomsbury this past October. I haven’t read Ms. Dolamore’s other work, but I had heard wonderful things about her, so I was excited to read this book. What I found was a story that was engaging, enchanting, and all around entertaining. (Lot’s of E’s there, huh?)

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren–the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn’t seen since childhood–a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air. (IndieBound)

What I like most about this book is that Ms. Dolamore never really explains the how’s and why’s of her fantastical world. In some cases, this would be a bad thing, but here it works. The lack of explanatory sections make the world and characters all the more believable. I particularly enjoyed Ms. Dolamore’s take on sirens and how instead of separating a siren from a mermaid, she blended the two mythologies to create a sort of social class within her mermaid world. Also, her inclusion of a winged race of people (think humans w/pterodactyl-like wings and talons, not angels. sounds odd, but it works) provides a nice balance and contrast with the mermaids.

Esmerine makes for a great main character and I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to her despite her being a mermaid. The thing I love most about her is her love for books and how books help connect her with Alan. Even though the story’s told in third person, Esmerine’s thoughts and desires come through clearly, and her need to ensure her sister’s safety is both admirable and believable.

And Alan? He’s pretty great, too. He can be a bit mouthy and over opinionated, but his passion for wanting to make his peers think and broaden their knowledge is rather admirable. His hot-and-cold nature isn’t too over the top, though. It’s clear that he cares about Esmerine and I felt bad that he had to choose his expected duty over his relationship with her when they were younger. I think that’s something  everyone can relate to and it’s little hints at reality like that that further made the story believable.

All in all, I really enjoyed Between the Sea and Sky and look forward to reading Ms. Dolamore’s other work. Her take on mermaids is refreshing and original, and I hope we get to see more of them in the future. Definitely go and pick up a copy! 🙂

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Thanks for the review! It’s interesting that you point out that no explanation works here. I’m definitely going to have to pick this one up!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Hi DJ! Glad to know that you loved this book. I’ve had my eye on it for months now. And I’m even more excited now that you mentioned that the author explains everything about the fantasy world. After reading Tangled Tides by Karen Hooper, I’ve been on the lookout for more mermaid reads. Great review! 🙂

  • Reply
    January 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I haven’t read a mermaid YA book that I’ve really loved. I haven’t read many though… So this one might be the one I DO love and by your description of some of it I think I’ll have to give it a try!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2012 at 4:18 am

    Why haven’t I heard of this before!?! I have read two mermaid books so far and to me they have been meh. I have to check this one out now though!! I have so many mermaid books I have to read in 2012 now!!

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