STARRED REVIEW
November 2016

Mermaids—myth or magic?

By Ananda Braxton-Smith
Review by
All her short life, Neen has heard the rumors. They say her mother was a mermaid, a merrow. They say that when her father drowned, her mother followed him back to her home on the ocean floor. Neen’s tight-lipped Auntie Ushag swears there’s nothing to the gossip, but Neen isn’t so sure. The sea’s swelling waves beckon her in a way she doesn’t quite understand. And if her mother were a merrow, it would certainly explain the strange, almost scaly skin condition that covers both her arms.
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All her short life, Neen has heard the rumors. They say her mother was a mermaid, a merrow. They say that when her father drowned, her mother followed him back to her home on the ocean floor. Neen’s tight-lipped Auntie Ushag swears there’s nothing to the gossip, but Neen isn’t so sure. The sea’s swelling waves beckon her in a way she doesn’t quite understand. And if her mother were a merrow, it would certainly explain the strange, almost scaly skin condition that covers both her arms. 

Packed with adroitly selected physical details and stirring, folklore-inspired nested narratives, Ananda Braxton-Smith’s Merrow follows Neen on her journey of discovery and self-realization. From skeletons in caves to colloquial yarns about local sea monsters, each encounter forces Neen to reconsider her world and her place in it. Is her island home full of merrows and other fantastical beings, or just everyday people struggling to understand their everyday lives? Is she the offspring of a mermaid returned to sea, or just the daughter of a depressed widow who couldn’t bear to live without her husband? 

As Neen tries to parse the real from the imaginary and the mythic from the mundane, she comes to understand the power of stories—how they can bind and destroy us, or shape and sustain us.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Merrow

Merrow

By Ananda Braxton-Smith
Candlewick
ISBN 9780763679248

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