Early Review: Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

October 24, 2011 Review 0

Early Review: Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn DolamoreBetween the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on October 25th 2011
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Pages: 240
Sexual Content: Kissing.
Reviewed by: Abigail
4 Stars

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.

I remember the first time I read the original Hans Christian Anderson’s THE LITTLE MERMAID and frantically searching for the happy ending that the many retellings I‘d read/seen had reworked into the story.   It wasn’t there.  And the story leading up to the ending was rather depressing too.  It took me a long time before I could appreciate the melancholy source of this classic fairy tale, but I do still love the happily ever after of the subsequent versions.  BETWEEN THE SEA AND SKY by Jaclyn Dolamore is the latest mermaid story to end up on my shelf, and while it isn’t a retelling of THE LITTLE MERMAID, is does borrow heavily from Anderson’s work and also from the less depressing versions that followed.

The mermaid mythology borrows one of the more bleak rules from Anderson’s story: every step that a mermaid takes on land feels like knives stabbing her feet.  So right away, I realized the happily ever after I wanted wasn’t going to be an easily accomplished thing, if it was possible at all.  Especially since the mermaid in question falls in love not with a human, but with a winged folk, a sort of human/bird like race.  His wings would not allow him to enter the ocean, and every step on land is agony for her.  Their whole relationship is practically forbidden before they even meet, and once they do, the knowledge that a life together is impossible makes every moment they share together so bittersweet.

The beginning of BETWEEN THE SEA AND SKY doesn’t come close to having the depth and emotional intensity that the rest of the book has since it deals with Esmerine’s underwater life and her insipid and silly sisters, but once she is forced to leave them behind, I was completely swept away by this tender and mournful love story.  BETWEEN THE SEA AND SKY, although a YA title, is much more mature than the other mermaid tales that this genre has recently produced.  It is full of heartbreak and impossibly difficult choices, but that’s part of what made is a love story I won’t soon be forgeting.

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