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FICTION

Mermaid Moon

Candlewick. Mar. 2020. 496p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781536209594.
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Gr 9 Up–“This is just a children’s tale; would you wreck your ship for it?” Sanna and her marreminde sisters lure passing sailors to their deaths with siren songs, as their mothers did before them. Though Sanna’s voice is one of the most beautiful, Sanna’s mother was landish, not seavish, a fact so unacceptable that the flok matriarch cast a spell of forgetting over everyone involved. Armed with only a name, Lisabet, Sanna magicks herself legs and walks unsteadily ashore to find the castle and, she hopes, news of her mother. Sanna’s magic inspires jealousy in the powerful and unnatural Baroness, who manipulates a betrothal to her son. Meanwhile, floating on the seaskin, Sanna’s sea sisters and father desperately wait for a song to indicate Sanna’s progress and safety. Cokal’s moody and sea-drenched tale weaves touches of Hans Christian Andersen with a dash of Pied Piper, using language that gorgeously sets each scene, including the exceedingly creepy bone vault, with its tiny baby skulls and “the yellow-white ribs known as Mother.” Lyrical, complex, and occasionally dark, with rich rewards for patient readers.
VERDICT Suggest this to thoughtful readers looking for strong females, unexpected twists, and a relatively happy ending. A good fit for fans of Margo Lanagan’s The Brides of Rollrock Island.

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