Sarai's Reviews > False Mermaid

False Mermaid by Erin Hart
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Jul 08, 2010

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bookshelves: general-fiction
Read in June, 2010

I wanted to like this book more than I did. I wanted to be blown away by it based on a couple of reviews I'd read. But I was not blown away. I would like to have given it a 3.5 rating.

What didn't I like? I felt like the ending was supposed to be a surprise, but it was not. And the actions the characters took in the ending - I don't believe you, I don't believe you, oh, maybe I do believe you - seemed contrived.

There were elements of the mystical in the book, but they were not true mystical stuff nor were they explained away by science. The whole selkie subplot ended up just being kind of boring, with no purpose I could see. And, working in a library, it bothered me that she found a book her sister had left on the shelf that was still turned backward after 5 years - did no one on staff ever go in that room? Did no one on staff ever do any weeding? And then the next day the book had mysteriously disappeared from the system. Did the selkies do it? I think not. So that scene just ended up being kind of goofy.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* It’s been a long wait since Hart’s Lake of Sorrows (2004), the follow-up to her outstanding debut, Haunted Ground (2003), which introduced Nora Gavin, the American forensic pathologist who works in Ireland with archaeologist Cormac Maguire. The novel begins with Nora returning to Minneapolis, hoping to solve at long last the murder of her sister, Triona. Convinced that Triona was killed by her husband, Peter, but unable to prove it, Nora retreated to Ireland and began a new life. But now Peter is returning to Minneapolis, and Nora feels she must tackle the unsolved crime before he has a chance to wreak more havoc on her family, especially Triona’s daughter, 11-year-old Elizabeth. Meanwhile, back in Ireland, Cormac becomes ensnared in another long-standing mystery, this one concerning the century-old disappearance of a woman believed to be a selkie a (mermaid who becomes human when she loses her sealskin). The two plot elements are skillfully combined through the feminist view of the selkie’s plight: a woman torn between loyalty to her human family and the lingering need for a return to the independence of the sea. Series writers attempting to send their protagonists on road trips often invite missteps, but Hart lands firmly on her feet by intermingling the Minneapolis scenes with the Ireland subplot and by bringing both together for the finale. And, as always, the novel is rich in human drama, complex relationships, and vivid local color. Few writers combine as seamlessly as Hart does the subtlety, lyrical language, and melancholy of literary fiction with the pulse-pounding suspense of the best thrillers.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Shomeret As a library student, I had to chuckle when I saw your comment about the library not doing any weeding. I happen to be doing a weeding assignment right now for my Collection Development class.


message 2: by Hannah (last edited Nov 29, 2011 05:41AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Hannah That part got to me as well. I had a hard time believing a book would stay that way for FIVE YEARS. Give me a break!

And even worse, that an old shoe and a doll would still exist inside a decrepit cottage exposed to the elements for almost 100 years.


Martha Yes, that was my impression exactly! SO unlikely that I stopped trusting the author....


message 4: by T (new) - rated it 1 star

T "Did the selkies do it?" bahaha


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