Author: Ananda Braxton-Smith
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: Hardcover; 240
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Content Screening: Nothing of note.
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who like stories with a folktale feel and a lot of internal storytelling.
Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
In this breathless and beautifully crafted tale, twelve-year-old Neen Marrey must separate town gossip from town lore to learn the truth about her mother—and herself.So it should be no surprise that Merrow caught my eye. Just look at that lovely cover. I dare anyone to pass up a book that clearly shows that mermaids will be involved. I'm a lover of all things fantastical, but mermaids have a very big piece of my heart. Alas, imagine my disappointment when I found out that, in fact, there may or may not actually be any mermaids hiding in Merrow. If you're looking for a very literary book, with a lot of descriptive writing, this is it. If you're looking for a book that focuses on mermaids, you may want to look elsewhere.
The people of Carrick Island have been whispering behind Neen’s back ever since her father drowned and her mother disappeared. The townspeople say her mother was a merrow and has returned to the ocean. Neen, caught in her hazy new in-between self—not a child, but not quite grown up—can’t help but wonder if the villagers are right. But if her mother was a merrow, then what does that make Neen?
Let's start with the good. First off, Neen Marrey was a character that I could absolutely get behind. She was strong, hardworking, kind, and honest to a fault. I loved that she felt realistic and, most of all, that her relationship with her Aunt was always perfect. Watching the two of them go through ups and downs, while still remembering to support one another despite what was thrown in their path, made me smile. Families, whatever their makeup, aren't always perfect, and I appreciated Braxton-Smith for highlighting that. I also very much enjoyed the story telling in this book. Neen's family history is passed down orally, which was quite a treat.
Now, as far as what bothered me, you'll actually find that my issue with this book is the same with the last review I wrote on this blog. If there is one thing I can't abide, it's books that rely solely on lyrical writing and purple prose, ignoring the actual world that they are building. Merrow reads beautifully. It's lilting, and moves like the ocean waves. What it doesn't do, is ever really pick up speed. This is a slow read and, truth be told, one that is very easy to skim. Neen's ultimate hunt for the fate of her mother was an interesting plot point but, since there didn't seem to be any actual mermaids here, one that I quickly lost track of. I still loved the family dynamic, and Neen's growth, but that initial reason I started reading this had gone out the window and so had the majority of my attention span.
As I said above, if you're looking for a book that is lyrical and reads like a folktale, then Merrow is absolutely for you. If, like I was, you're looking for a fantastical tale of mermaids? Well, you'd be better off looking elsewhere. I can see the draw to this book, and I know that many will love it from beginning to end. I just wasn't able to count myself among that number.