Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's 2011
The first in a trilogy, Sarah Porter ventures into the darkest part of mermaid lore, twisting the threads of myth into a beautiful novel that resounds with originality. Luce is a lonely fourteen year old girl who lives in the small town of Pittley, Alaska. When her father drowned while out at sea, Luce was sent to the custody of her father's brother, Peter. In Pittley, Luce is so traumatized by the beatings she has to put up with everyday by her uncle that she doesn't have any friends, and is tormented when she has to speak. One stormy night, when her uncle crosses an unspeakable line and leaves her stranded on the edge of a cliff, Luce falls off the cliff. She knows she should be dashed by the jagged rocks and stones, but instead she changes into a sleek creature with a human's torso and a fish's tail- a mermaid. Luce is soon welcomed into a tribe of mermaids who transformed just like her, all of them having been abused or neglected. Luce is happy to suddenly feel like she belongs, but then she discovers the dark nature of these young, innocent beauties-they enjoy murdering the humans who linger on the ships close to their territory. They use their amazing and awe-inspiring singing talent to coax the ships to sink and the people to drown. But Luce still wants to retain her humanity, and in a world where humans are despised and murdered, Luce is afraid to exploit her affinity. How will she show these new desperate and abused friends that revenge is not the only way? Sarah Porter writes with a simplistic yet descriptive and beautiful style, though sometimes it seems as if the writing is meant for younger readers unsuited for the theme. Her plot is original and haunting, with a very loose feel of the original Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. All her characters had a lot of depth and dimensions, mottled with good and evil like real humans. The story was gripping, making me want to read through the night until I found the fate of Luce. I will be waiting eagerly for the second book in the trilogy, and until then I will be sincerely intrigued by the gigantic cliffhanger Sarah Porter left for us.
Rating: 4 Better than most