When Mermaids Weep ~ Book Review of ‘The Mermaid’s Mirror’ by L. K. Madigan

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on September 14, 2012 0 Comments

I have read several books aimed at the young adult market all with great hopes to be the next Twilight franchise.  Goodness there have been supernatural creatures of all sorts; of course, vampires and werewolves and then fallen angels came into vogue which then detoured to trolls (not quite the stuff for a Bella and Edward type of romance) however the mermaid angle was a new one and I was willing to give it a chance.  I can’t say that L. K. Madigan’s The Mermaid’s Mirror would be a smash if it found the right audience; I can say that due to Ms. Madigan’s 2011 death from cancer a sequel will not be written by her which is unfortunate.

            Lena is just a regular Northern California teen who would love to learn how to surf however her father absolutely forbids it because many years ago he almost drowned.  It is puzzling that a man who once loved the sport in which he excelled now won’t even go into the water.  It is one thing to be more cautious about the ocean after having a brush with its power; it is another to completely forsake it.  However things are starting to happen to Lena such as sleepwalking to the ocean and fainting spells in tall buildings along with a healthy dose of wanting to assert her independence (which translates into taking surfing lessons from a friend on the sly).  When Lena thinks she spots a mermaid then all bets are off and no fatherly edicts or the concerns of friends are going to keep her from surfing at Magic Crescent Cove (known to the locals simply as Magic).

           What I liked about The Mermaid’s Mirror was that Lena has a close family where despite the usual speed bumps of adolescence Lena, her father, stepmother, and brother (half) all take time to give group hugs.  I thought it was a nice change of pace from many of the young adult offerings I have read recently.  Lena’s stepmother has nicely filled in the role of Lena’s deceased mother to the point that she is the only mother Lena can remember.  Although readers know what the big reveal is going to entail it doesn’t happen until half way through the novel because Madigan bid her time well by establishing the characters first.  It was also nice to read about a girl who technically probably shouldn’t fit into the typical California girl role, but does because she has friends and family.

          After the main plot divulge I thought Madigan did a nice job covering Lena’s partial amnesia.  Yet for a book that came in at 308 pages I thought things were rushed in the second half ergo my suspicion Madigan was planning on a sequel in which the undersea world would clash with Lena’s human life.  I also thought Lena’s merman romance felt flat since the readers didn’t know too much about her underwater Romeo except he was cute.  Added to the mix was a mother abandoned, grandparents who may not be on the up and up, and a Goddess who dates back to the Greeks who lives in a sea cave.  I finished the book wanting more and then I read about Madigan’s passing which made me feel melancholy for the loss of a writer which I had only just discovered.  Her other book aimed at young adult readers, Flash Burnout, also sounds like an interesting read (it won a William C. Morris Award).


         I recommend The Mermaid’s Mirror with some trepidation since it is the genesis of a larger tale that probably will never be played out.  There were sweet observances that Madigan gave her characters that stood out and left the audience wanting more.  The sadness of the novel is that it exposed a writer’s potential which has now been silenced – much like catching a glimpse of a mermaid before she ducks under a wave.

        Happy Reading!

Westerfield © 2012

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