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The Mermaid's Sister

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There is no cure for being who you truly are…

In a cottage high atop Llanfair Mountain, sixteen-year-old Clara lives with her sister, Maren, and guardian, Auntie. By day, they gather herbs for Auntie’s healing potions; by night, Auntie spins tales of faraway lands and wicked fairies. Clara’s favorite story tells of three orphan infants—Clara, who was brought to Auntie by a stork; Maren, who arrived in a seashell; and their best friend, O’Neill, who was found beneath an apple tree.

One day, Clara discovers shimmering scales just beneath her sister’s skin: Maren is becoming a mermaid and must be taken to the sea or she will die. So Clara, O’Neill, and the mermaid-girl set out for the shore. But the trio encounters trouble around every bend. Ensnared by an evil troupe of traveling performers, Clara and O’Neill must find a way to save themselves and the ever-weakening Maren.

And always in the back of her mind, Clara wonders, if my sister is a mermaid, then what am I?

236 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2015

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About the author

Carrie Anne Noble

11 books325 followers
In the wake of her checkered past as a theatre student, restaurant hostess, certified nurse aide, and newspaper writer, Carrie now writes novels and short stories. She lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with her tolerant husband, charming children, two naughty cats, a brilliant half-Corgi, and some really-not-so-bright chickens. The chickens do not live in the house. You can read her blog at http://www.carrienoble.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,984 reviews
Profile Image for Michelle.
147 reviews234 followers
October 3, 2019
First impressions do matter, and I couldn’t help being attracted to “The Mermaid’s Sister”. The cover art is gorgeous and it promises a good fairy tale-- one that weaves relatable, everyday humans with fantastical creatures. Unfortunately, the attraction faded when I was about 3 chapters through, and what's left was a feeling of ambivalence that lingered until the end. There is nothing original, nothing unique. The setting of an early 20th century fantasy rural America was charming, but the novelty wore off pretty quickly. There did not seem to be a logical structure to the world-building either, which was disappointing. Reading it didn’t really feel like a chore, but it was so easy to be distracted while reading it. I kept zoning out and had to backtrack to figure out what was going on. Half the time, I realized once I was caught up that I didn’t really missed anything important.

“The Mermaid’s Sister” is about Clara and Maren. When Maren starts her transformation into a mermaid, Clara with the help of a dear family friend O'Neill, set off on an adventure to save her--the sister she has known and wants to keep. We get to follow Clara’s coming of age, her struggles with finding herself, and her love for- - and jealousy of -- her sister whom she perceived to be prettier and have special attributes she did not have.

The characters are cute, but they could be more developed. Clara is enamored with her sister and constantly describes her beauty. Yes, her sister is a beautiful mermaid, but it sounds like Clara has a major inferiority complex, and that’s never addressed. Whenever Clara mentions herself, she talks about how she’s not pretty like her sister, not brave, not skilled, not at all noteworthy. This could have been an interesting plot point, where she realizes she doesn’t have to be a glorious, mythical creature to be special. But she never does. Even at the end, when someone tells her she’s brave and sweet, she refuses to believe it. Meanwhile, her sister doesn’t seem to live up to all the praise. The faster Maren transforms into a mermaid, the less personality she has. Once she loses her speech early in the book, all she does is primp, cry, or stick out her tongue at Clara. She seems more like the object of a video game quest than a dimensional person experiencing a major transformation. The sisters don’t feel real at all, and I find the secondary characters: Scarf, O'Neill and the Auntie more enjoyable than these two.

The plot is straightforward, simple and, in my opinion, a bit predictable. Their mission is determined at the beginning, and their mission is accomplished at the end. There aren’t any twists. They do hit a few snags to slow them down, but it still ends exactly how I expected. The resolution felt forced though, and there are still so many loose ends that are never addressed at all. I also thought the love story in the book was just thrown in, out of the blue, for the story to end neatly.

In places, the writing is beautiful, perfectly fitting for a fairy tale. Other sentences are awkward and full of flowery descriptions (sometimes that I thought, “who really describes things this way?”). It does make for vivid imagery, but most of the time I find it comical. There are also some moments with modern references that didn't seem to fit with the fact that it takes place in pre-industrial times. Maybe, if it took place in an actual fantasy world instead of pre-industrial America, it would have made more sense. Nothing about the story world is realistic besides the fact that it takes place in Pennsylvania. Some books are successful at presenting fantasy within a realistic setting. This one was not.

Perhaps this book was meant for a younger audience than YA, but the story has very adult themes of murder and slavery, and with the sexual suggestiveness that seems to be aimed at an older audience. In my opinion, there are no positive lessons for preteens, it is too juvenile for teens and too adult for younger children. The language is way too formal and there are time wasting chapters describing childhood stories and other over the top descriptions that just seemed like filler. This could have been told in less than half the time and would probably have been more entertaining. Carrie Anne Noble has great potential, and this novel could have been greatly improved by a more ruthless editor.
Profile Image for Ben Alderson.
Author 23 books13.2k followers
September 2, 2015
The Perfect Beach read! So unique and beautiful with an extremely interesting premise!
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,230 reviews1,003 followers
March 14, 2015
I love mermaids.

This book started off with a charming and intriguing premise: Two sixteen-year-old girls have been raised as sisters by their adopted Auntie, a loving and wise witch who's taught them herbcraft and more. But now, on the cusp of adulthood, one of them, Maren, is showing her birth nature: she is transforming into a mermaid.

Our POV character, her sister Clara, is emotionally torn by this irrevocable change - she doesn't want to lose her beloved sister. However, she recognizes the fact that Maren sees her change as something right and necessary - even desirable. She reconciles herself to the fact that Maren will have to go to the sea.

There's a LOT of potential here for a beautiful story, rich in symbolism about love, loss, sisterhood, and the inevitable changes that come with maturity.

Unfortunately, that's not what the author wrote.

I had three kinds of problems with this book.

First, what I'd call technical problems. The great tension of the plot is getting Maren to the sea. This would have been no kind of problem at all if the characters had just planned in advance. If they hadn't waited till the last minute, there would've been no issues at all.
And, a big failing of the book is that as the plot goes on and Maren is more affected by the change, she ceases to be a real character. It would've been fine - and effective - if she became more alien, more inhuman, but that's not what the plot does. Instead, it treats her as an object to be carted around.

The second category of problems: The awful, awful love triangle. This is crying out to be a story of sisterly love. Instead, the author switches the focus to a love triangle involving the two sisters and their adoptive 'almost-brother.' I am sorry, but to have a teenager deciding that the boy she has grown up with as a brother is her love interest is NOT appealing to me. Introducing jealousy between the two sisters - over the sexual love of their brother - weakens the story significantly. It may certainly be possible to introduce romance in this sort of situation, if written masterfully - but this book does not pull it off. It feels icky.

The third category of problems: The religious aspects. At the end of this book the author thanks her Christian writers' group, and God. Now, it is certainly possible (it's been done frequently) to write a book espousing Christian values and to have it be an excellent book, one with a powerful discussion of ethics and a strong moral compass.
However, that is not what comes through in this book. The "Christian" (in quotation marks, because I do NOT think these things are what Christianity is actually about) aspects of this book come through first, in the main character's bizarre and inappropriate obsession with "modesty" - I mean, at moments where it is literally the Very Last Thing that she should be worrying about, because so many WORSE things are going on. Similarly, she picks extremely inopportune moments to worry about violence. And finally, there's the marriage thing.

Overall, the story just didn't live up to my initial expectations.

Many thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinion is my own.
Profile Image for Ellen Gail.
835 reviews374 followers
October 28, 2022

Unfinished at 30%
I got a bad feeling at the beginning of this. Something in my gut told me in the first few pages that a vital element of the story was missing, that I was not going to enjoy this.

I should have listened. There are so many things wrong with this, I could barely get through a page without getting annoyed at something.

So, positives? Ummm, I liked Scarff? He was a pretty decent storyteller and named after one of my favorite accessories. That's a plus I guess.

The writing is dullsville. There's at least one quote every chapter about the main character constantly wishing for things. What does it mean? Does it highlight her own passivity in life? Tie in to the "magical realism"? Nope. There's no depth or meaning to be found. I felt like the writing constantly skimmed the surface of every character and gave no indication of diving deeper.

Speaking of magical realism (which when done properly is one of my favorites of favorites), I don't know what the hell was going on with the magic elements of the story. Maren is transforming into a mermaid, Auntie knows potions, there's a wyvern, and babies are literally dropped off by storks. But somehow the idea of a traveling salesman selling potions is scoffed at? And they don't want to let the village know about them?

The world in The Mermaid's Sister is incredibly flat. Yes, Maren is turning into a mermaid. Okay. How about giving a little context as to how mermaids fit into this world? Something?

But the kicker for me is Clara, our protagonist. What does she look like? No idea. What does she like to do? Well, she wishes for things. And, um...she walks and talks and eats. Probably poops and sleeps too. All of which my cats can do. They wish for more salmon treats daily.

Oh, she has the best friend O'Neill! Maybe he'll help develop her character! And he's actually not too bad. Until Clara develops feelings towards him and immediately decides it's true love. Cause when you're 16 and living in some weird ass mountains with a mermaid in a bathtub, what else is there to do but fall in love?

Long story short, I think that a story about a girl turning into a mermaid and testing the bonds of sisterhood should be magical. This couldn't even fire off a spark.
Profile Image for Rob Slaven.
480 reviews53 followers
March 11, 2016
I chose this book as my Kindle Firsts selection for the month of February. Here are my notes from the read.

General notes:

* The text is clean and well written. I sense no textual issues and my grammar/spelling radar is not getting tripped so that's good. I would say that the writing lacks any real style or flair. It's all very straightforward and not terribly unique. Nothing reaches out to grab you about this.

* Pacing is average to slow. The story takes a while to develop in any meaningful way. It's not action packed by any means.

* Not terribly original either; as I said, rather faerie tale like.

* One of my pet peeves in YA fiction is the presence of sex or drugs. This one has none of the above unless you count magic potions; it's got lots of those!

Detailed Reading Notes:

* Starts out in Pennsylvania in 1870... well, but there's a blue wyvern and a sister who is slowly turning into a mermaid. At the end of chapter 1 we've got two girls, both foundlings with oddly magical backgrounds adopted by a single woman with faerie blood. My very initial impression of this is that it's not just young adult, it's YOUNG adult. Almost pre-teen but we'll see how it develops.

* By the end of chapter 3, we've got yet another foundling, this one a boy. Adopted by a traveling peddler and friend to the other two female foundlings. Can nobody in this story take care of their own children!?!? With this, I think the introductions are over and the story is ready to begin so no more spoilers. I don't know about you but I see NO potential for romantical anything. None at all. OK. Maybe a bit.

* As chapter 7 closes, our dramatic pitch inclines. We're in spoiler free territory so I can't tell you what but suffice to say that we're approaching a dramatic climax. Somewhat problematic is the idea that our main characters seem to be the only ones you believe in magic but they're certainly not very secretive about it. The wyvern is out and about a lot and without restriction if it's also supposed to be a secret. That makes me a bit perplexed.

* By the end of chapter 11 we're REALLY in faerie tale territory. There's a evil faerie curse that keeps true love apart unless some complex series of events occurs to break it.

* Chapter 15 closes and we've reached a narrative nadir. Tragedy strikes, what will become of our protagonists? All seems hopelessly lost! But I'm guessing it's not. Again, as stated other places, nothing terribly original or unpredictable about any of it.

* OK, concluding, this turns out almost exactly as you would expect. Pretty cliche and predictable but still reasonably entertaining.

PS: As always I strive to be as helpful as possible. If you find this review unhelpful, pop me a comment so I can do better next time. Thanks!

Rob Slaven
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Profile Image for Kristina.
140 reviews18 followers
February 24, 2015
Let me begin by saying that I'm very happy I didn't pay money for this book because if I had then I may have forced myself to finish...

It was on page 57 that the battle raging in my mind over whether to push through and finish this book or to give up and read another book on my mile long to read list finally ended. Needless to say the book lost, which was a shame because I love fairy tales and mermaids are my favorite mythical creature.

My largest issues with this book can be explained in two ways: the awful writing and the horrible protagonist.

The author's writing style felt incredibly forced. Her attempts to make the scenes seem lyrical and magical fell flat and continuously jerked me out of the story. While an exceptional style of writing is, of course, a lovely treat for a reader, writing concisely, clearly, and unpretentiously is also more than acceptable. Noble's writing read as if she were unaware of this. Her obsession with annoying metaphors was also quite painful. Yet, perhaps with some difficulty, I may have been able to get past Noble's excruciating writing if the story had been at all compelling or if I had cared at all about her characters, but it was not and I did not.

Every turn of the plot felt incredibly contrived. Additionally, our young "heroine" (if she can be labeled as such) was one-dimensional and boring. Clara is a shining example of a weak female character. She does absolutely nothing about her problems, instead sits around and weeps waiting for the boy she is "in love with" to come and rescue her. The plot literally cannot move forward until outside factors compel Clara to stop crying for a fraction of a second. She also is a dull "wall flower" who has some serious inferiority issues. Clara constantly describes her sister as prettier than herself and therefore more deserving of love and gifts. Additionally, Clara describes herself as the "unfun" sister in addition to the "plain" one. One of her greatest fears is her sister going unchaperoned *GASP* to a show. I'm not actually sure if Clara likes anything or is good at anything because of the fact that she has such low self esteem and seems to dread any event that may bring her pleasure. Geeze, Clara, maybe it's not your sister's pretty face, but her ability to go five minute without crying ad actually allow herself to enjoy life a bit that causes boys to like her?

Overall, I am sorely disappointed in this book and wish I had quit reading sooner so I could have spent my time on a more worthwhile endeavor. There are better books out there, go and find one and don't waste your time on this book.
Profile Image for Jules.
1,046 reviews185 followers
May 10, 2018
The Mermaid’s Sister was an enjoyable story to listen to. It’s a sort of fantasy young adult coming of age tale. A story of love, family, adventure, magic and self-discovery. I loved the magical and fantasy feel of the story, but as it felt a little too young adult for me, I couldn’t quite give it 5 stars. Definitely one I recommend to fans of young adult fantasy, and would probably appeal to teenagers.

I borrowed this in audiobook format through Amazon Kindle Unlimited.
Profile Image for Lulu.
30 reviews10 followers
March 27, 2015
The frustrating thing about this book is that it had so much promise. The set up and feel of the world and characters had the potential to be a beautiful and touching story. Instead I felt mostly irritation at the relationships between the characters which seemed slapdash and rushed. A wanted a story about loss and sisterly bonds. What I got was a poorly construed romance with a little villain thrown in. Even as an adventure story the scale is small and while I really wanted to like the characters I was left feeling at a loss.
Profile Image for Kerry.
541 reviews62 followers
January 25, 2016
A lovely tale about two sisters brought up together on a beautiful mountain. One was brought by the stork, the other left in a shell.
Their story takes them on a journey of magic, danger, captivity, adventure & mystery, as one sister tries to save the other.
At times it felt quite young and aimed more at teen readers I felt, it was still enjoyable & magical though.
Profile Image for Hannah G.
34 reviews1 follower
February 12, 2015
Excellent selection for a "kindle first"

From the first page I was enchanted and absolutely captivated. Noble has spun a fine yarn with familiar mythological beings in an unfamiliar setting. Wyverns, mermaids, and faeries, in the U.S. during the time of curiosities and snake oil salesmen seemed a silly premise, but unfolded so magically with each page turn.

Clara is a heroine to be admired. She is a refreshingly modest and dignified character where as our as-of-late, over-sexualized culture devalues and mocks such modesty as prudish. Her devotion to her sister is overwhelmingly beautiful. In the face of her transformation and dire circumstance she does not allow herself to indulge in her longings, lest her sister share the same desire.

Clara's longing and fear to transform into that which she assumed herself to be is a very relatable struggle of finding one's own identity.

Noble wove a beautiful tapestry of visions, scents, sounds, and tastes. The story was highly sensory, enriching the visualization of America in the 1800s, while simultaneously availing the imagination to fantastical and exotic themes.

This story very much made me nostalgic for Orson Scott Card's ENCHANTMENT and Neil Gaiman's STARDUST and NEVERWHERE.

Profile Image for Elspeth.
836 reviews130 followers
March 25, 2015
To be honest I skimmed to the ending, and it was just so very boring.


This book wasn't for me.

I received this book from Netgalley in trade for an honest review.

Profile Image for ✨Susan✨.
873 reviews174 followers
September 26, 2016
3.5 stars. Three children who have special gifts are raised together and even though they are not siblings they are taught, that among themselves, love and loyalty are important above all else. Upon the verge of adulthood it becomes clear that they must embark on a dangerous expedition in order to save one of their lives. This was a good story with refreshing characters but for me it was a YA fantasy.
Profile Image for Carrie Gulledge.
139 reviews1 follower
February 10, 2015
I received this book as a Kindle First selection through Amazon.

Technically, I would like to give this book 3.5 stars (I need half star options, Goodreads!!). Since I can't give it half stars, I decided it was closer to 4 than 3. The writing was clean and well-developed, with an easy flow. Sometimes, that's hard to find in debut authors these days. As for the story... well, for the most part, I enjoyed the story. It had it's interesting twists, but nothing mind boggling. It was just that - enjoyable. You didn't have to think too hard about anything; there was no need to feel torn between different characters - there was no angst in this book for the reader. A little angst would have given the story a little... meatier feel? I mean, you got a lot of emotional angst from the main character, but it didn't make me feel much of anything (except, at times, annoyed). The sudden romantic development at the end of the book, while expected, still felt a little underdeveloped. You knew it was coming, but you weren't quite sure why it came when it did.

I would definitely enjoy reading another book from this author, as I felt that this was a good debut novel, with the usual "author getting into their stride" issues, that will get better as the author gains more experience.
Profile Image for Cyn .
129 reviews40 followers
June 4, 2018
2.5 stars

A story of a girl who's fated to turn into a stork, her sister is in the process of becoming a mermaid.

(There's a pet wyvern!)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Terri.
18 reviews
May 30, 2015
This book is a great big bucket of nope.

I went into "The Mermaid's Sister" with high hopes. Generally, if a story has elements that consist of something supernatural/magical creature/fantasy/two worlds blending, I'm in. Plus, there's the added bonus that it's a story about transition; human to mermaid, adolescence to adulthood, and I dig a good transition story. So I wanted to like it. Only I didn't.

To sum up, and there will be spoilers: As two sisters stand on the verge of adulthood (they're 16 or 17 at the start of the book) Clara, the narrator, realizes her sister, Maren, is turning into a mermaid. Scales, webbed fingers, etc. Their aunt, who is part faerie, sends Clara and "almost-brother" O'Neill out from their home in the mountains of Pennsylvania to the ocean with Maren in tow, so she can return to the sea and come fully into herself. Nothing goes smoothly and the trio of travelers is kidnapped by a traveling circus. Clara moons over O'Neill, who she believes is in love with her sister and so she will bear her unrequited love in noble silence. Bad things happen. The group gets away from the lunatic circus people and make their way to the ocean in the nick of time. Maren reunites with her true father, the Mermaid King, and goes happily into the ocean. Clara and O'Neill head back to Pennsylvania. On the way home he confesses he has always loved Clara, and they get married on the spot, and all is right with the world.

I was initially put off by the stilted flow of the books language, though I got that the character was writing from the perspective of the impossibly proper main character, Clara, who is stilted (emotionally repressed, really) in her own right. The book's pace, I thought, was steady. And by steady, I mean, it didn't speed up, it didn't slow down. It just plodded along. And the plot...

Again, I could really get behind a story that espouses the premise, "There is no cure for being who you truly are." Great! Fabulous! Let your colors fly! Amirite? I mean, what could go wrong with that?

Unless you're one-dimensional. Clara=uptight. Maren=petulant. O'Neill=nature boy. Circus owner=crazy. Circus owner's wife=ineffective. Circus owner's son=even crazier than his father. And so on, and so on. The thing is, that is all they ever are. Clara's penchant for staying buttoned up (again, emotionally, and as we hear time and time again, in her proper clothing, too) doesn't mean she lives a life deep in introspection. She's just uptight. Maren is ALWAYS the petulant, pretty one. Even when she's clearly on the brink of death, she worries about looking pretty for O'Neill. And O'Neill is like a walking bag of "you ladies stay here a moment while I go talk to the horses". Whatever. When you meet the characters, nobody--and I mean NOBODY--goes through any sort of emotional development. At the end, Clara is still uptight, but is happy because she's validated by O'Neill's love. Maren is pretty and petulant and back in the water. And O'Neill is married to world's (emotionally) oldest teenager, so he can jaunt about and converse with the crows and know there's steady (plodding, rigid) Clara, running his home like clockwork.

It could have been a real girl power, sisters gotta stick together story, but the author saddles Clara and Maren with a romantic rivalry over O'Neill, which overshadows all the book's insight into the development of the sisters' relationship. It could have been a fun romp, but the author goes weirdly dark, killing the pet (super-sentient, sort of mystical) crow O'Neill sends to the girls and feeding it to them in a stew.

Yes, the girls ate their friend/pet crow.

And it could have been a story about a family (the circus performers) coming to grips with the depths of the son's violent craziness. Instead, Clara frets about what she's wearing about him because she's worried that if he sees too much of her skin she'll be responsible for enflaming his unstoppable passion. Basically, she worries that if she doesn't stay buttoned up she'll be asking for it when the crazy son rapes her.

Jeez. One star. I'd give it a no-star, but then I wouldn't be able to write the review.

I wanted to like this book, I did. But life never works out like you planned, does it? Because really, in the end, I haaaaaaated this book.
Profile Image for Soo.
2,598 reviews255 followers
August 12, 2017
Have you ever gone back to read your favorite book of fairy tales & fables and find yourself a bit disappointed to not feel the same sense of awe, delight, worry, fright and joy from reading the stories again? I've been there. When I came across this book on Audible, I hoped that it would be exactly what it sounds like: a fable with a bit of magic, danger, excitement and joyful ending. I am utterly delighted to have read and listened to this story because that is exactly what I gained. A story full of colorful characters with hopes and fears. It's a wonderful story that would be a great adventure to share with kids.

Clara, Maren and O'Neill are three orphans that grew up together and told a tale of the beginnings of their little family. They are the children of the stork, seashell and apple tree. Auntie Verity and the vagabond Scarff raised the children with all of their love and wisdom. Each of them grew up to become exactly who they desired to be. Yet, Maren's time with them has come to pass and she needed to make her way back to the sea. Her lovely form changed in bits and pieces until she became a mermaid.

Kate Rudd did a great job of making the story rich with her characterizations. I really enjoyed listening to her spin the tale of longing, wishes, dreams and devious fortunes.

I had a lovely time with this adventure and can't wait to see what else Carrie Anne Noble has spun with her wistful, dreamer's words.
Profile Image for Jo-Jo.
140 reviews48 followers
July 10, 2016
This a wonderful, delightful story full of magic, whimsy, love, and the sorrow that comes along with having to let someone you love go when you would rather keep that person close to you for all of your days. Sometimes, what's best for the other person, and their happiness is what is most important, and you have to put your wants aside to do what you know is right. I loved all the different settings throughout the books, the characters were amazing-even the diabolical ones, and the story line was enchanting. This is not a book I will forget anytime soon. I enjoyed every part immensely.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,372 reviews1,420 followers
November 25, 2015
A charming book that has a mermaid, yes, but is mainly a love story. I enjoyed it but I can see how other readers may have struggled with the pacing.

If you enjoyed The Mermaid's Sister, you may also like The Moon and the Sun by Vonda McIntyre, another historical fiction with a mermaid, but this one set in France at the court of the Sun King- one of my favorite periods in history.
Profile Image for Kristie.
834 reviews361 followers
February 17, 2022
This book was not what I was expecting at all. I went into it expecting a whimsical tale about mermaids and travel and adventure. What I got for the first 2/3 of the book was a gloomy, depressing story involving an omnipresent love triangle.

The final third of the story was significantly more optimistic but in an overly convenient way and it contrasted with the gloom of the first half too much making the read feel very uneven.

Unfortunately, this read was mostly a miss for me. 2.5 stars

Animal trigger alert in spoiler

“There's no cure for being who you truly are.”
Profile Image for Brightness.
271 reviews65 followers
December 27, 2015
3 Stars

I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I downloaded it for free through the kindle first reads program.

Maren and Clara are sisters - just not by blood. They came by way of seashell and stork, both delivered separately to the doorstep of the woman who would come to raise them. There is also O'Neil, their almost brother, who came into the world by way of an apple tree.

Maren and Clara grew up on a secluded Pennsylvanian mountainside, an idyllic childhood, until Maren began her transformation into her true form - a mermaid.

Clara and O'Neil must fight to get Maren to the sea, before she dies. A journey that proves more dangerous than any of them could ever imagine.

I really loved the magical realism of the book. Elements of fantasy in 19th century Pennsylvania. There is a love story that's very sweet and explored throughout the book. Nothing like the insta-love that can be so prevalent in YA fiction these days. There's also a traveling carnival involved, and I really love anything with carnivals or circuses.

It's a very quick and easy read with fairy tale qualities and memorable characters.
Profile Image for Jeff Wheeler.
Author 90 books4,489 followers
March 1, 2015
I picked up The Mermaid's Sister through Kindle First and was delightfully surprised by the tale. It had interesting characters, a nice fairy tale fantasy plot set in historical Pennsylvania, and I pretty much devoured the book in a few days. There was a good Virtus angle in it (Clara trying to save her sister's life), a tension-filled love story, and an engaging cast of characters. It's mean for a YA audience, but I enjoyed it. My only criticism was the tension could have been more harrowing. It brushed with some intense things occasionally, but did not follow through. But still, worth reading.
Profile Image for autumn.
271 reviews42 followers
May 26, 2017
good: really beautiful, lovely fairy-tale style prose, pet dragon! (my all time fave)
bad: poc as villains trope, use of "g**sy" a million times and the related stereotypes, bad bad resolution of abuse, exotification/fetishization of non-white cultures, disappointing end (obvi not as bad as the rest but still) also clara (main character) continually referring to her love interest, o'neill, as her 'almost-brother'?? i don't know if they would really be considered siblings since the families only spend 2 weeks a year together (per o'neill's father's curse) but he calls clara's sister HIS sister and their parents are married so??????????????????
Profile Image for Zoraida.
Author 35 books3,963 followers
July 27, 2015
A New Classic Fairytale

The Mermaid's Sister reads like a classic fairytale. It is an adventure centered around a family of teens with magical origins, and their quest of self discovery. The language is lyrical, poetic, and heartbreaking. I can just keep gushing about how beautiful the writing is.

What I loved:

The books is told from Clara's point of view. Clara is shy and modest, but loves her family fiercely. She's the quiet shadow to her charming sister Maren. Maren is becoming a mermaid. The two of them were raised by their "aunt" Verity. Maren was brought to Auntie in a seashell. Clara has always been told that she was brought by a stork. A recurring theme in the book is what is going to happen to Clara? While Maren's mermaid change advances, she must always be kept in salt water and loses her voice. She cries tears of pearl, and shrinks every day. Meanwhile, Clara has never shown signs of changing into a stork. One of the most poignant moments in the book is when Clara wonders, "What am I without her? Just a girl left by a stork."

Clara knows she can't lose her sister. If Maren doesn't get to the ocean, then she will die. Clara enlists the help of their "almost-brother" O'Neill, left at the base of an apple tree. I was unsure of their ages in the first two chapters, but then it was clear that they are in their late teens. O'Neill travels with Scarff, Aunt Verity's boyfriend. They were separated by a fairy curse, which forced Scarff to lead the life of a traveling merchant, and take his adoptive son, O'Neill with him. Once Scarff returned for good, O'Neill and Clara set off on a journey to take Maren to the sea.

By this point, Maren is so weak that she can fit completely into a claw footed bathtub. Clara and O'Neill put her in the wagon, and then they set off on their journey. Throughout all of this, Clara displays a quiet kind of strength. She's in love with O'Neill, but wouldn't act on it because she knows Maren is in love with him. The complicated emotions are handles really well. It's a love triangle that seems like it can only end in tragedy because no matter what happens, Maren has two fates: to become a mermaid, or to die trying to get into the ocean.

But their journey to save Maren is destroyed when the trio's wagon is blown up, and they're kidnapped by circus performers. The circus family at first treats the trio like they're saving them. But soon we learn that Madame Soraya and her son want to use Maren for their own gain. O'Neill and Clara are powerless against people who survive on trickery and threats. O'Neill and Clara start to lose their way and their hope. They spend days learning to become part of this circus and it's hard to see them suffer. This is perhaps the most powerful part of the narrative: finding hope and bravery when you don't think you have any left. That, and family.

Family is what leads Clara to her emotional growth. She sees herself a certain way. For instance when she said, "I know I am no princess. I do envy Maren a little, and O'Neill as well. She is a mermaid; he is a performer. They have their places in the world. Me, I am just a girl who may or may not become a stork."

Then, there's the way O'Neill sees her: "I swore to save Maren and to protect you. But you were the hero, weren't you? You were the one who made me brave when I might have given up. You were the one who stood up to Jasper...You were your sister's hero, and you are mine. My brave, brave Clara."

What left me wanting more:
The pace of the novel is slow, but I think that's also a good thing. Every moment is poignant, and necessary. It pulls you into the story and lets you relish in the language.

Final verdict:
The Mermaid's Sister is an adventure of self-discovery, family, and true love. It's a must read for fairytale lovers.
Profile Image for Rebecca Carter.
154 reviews92 followers
May 15, 2016
The Mermaids Sister is an original fairy tale perfect for bedtime reading, or while relaxing on a beach with the waves crashing in the background.
It's a lovely magical story about two sisters who are brought up together on a mountain. One was left in a conch shell and the other dropped of by a stork. They live a blissful life until Maren begins turning into a mermaid, resulting in them having to step foot off the mountain and set off on a journey filled with magic, obstacles and danger.
The writing style is simple but beautiful, and although it felt like it was aimed at very young teen readers, it was still a pleasure to read. Just open your mind and set your imagination free and enjoy this book for what it is, fun.
Profile Image for Lex.
78 reviews
June 25, 2016
This book is quite possibly the best debut novel (and one of the best books in general) I've read. The writing is flawless. I was crazy jealous the whole time, wishing I had written every line of this book. The world is so easily grasped. Her writing is so good that we are immediately familiarized with this world. The characters are well done. The character voice and tone of the book are perfect. The tension and stakes are sky high without being overdone. I don't even know where to start with this review. The book is absolutely perfect. It will be a favorite of mine forever. And I will be jealous of its perfection forever!
Profile Image for Nicole.
20 reviews5 followers
January 24, 2016
Absolutely the best read in years! Love her writing! Can't wait to read her next novel!
Profile Image for Hayley Noble.
85 reviews7 followers
May 4, 2017
I debated between 2-3 stars for this book, because although this wasn't the worst thing I've ever read, it's all a bit dull and well, unexplained. I got sucked into this book by the blurb (obviously -that is what they are supposed to do!). It's a tale of 2 sisters raised on a mountain by their aunt (who is some kind of witch/fairy healer) except one of the sisters, Maureen, is slowly turning into a mermaid. If she does not get to the ocean, she will die. The second sister Clara must find a way to take her to the ocean and come to terms with the fact she will loose her sister either way.
I really thought this story would centre around sisterhood, growing up and finding your place in the world and how that effects your family. In a way it kind of was, for the first few chapters. Then it transforms into this weird love triangle.
We are introduced to the sisters before Maureen starts 'the change', she seems a dynamic character but as soon she starts to become an mermaid she becomes an almost object in this book, they end up carrying her round in a jar for goodness sake. It's things as well, like they try so hard to keep her hidden but never explain what the problem would be if anyone saw her?! They are in a world when things like this exist - you know that from when they get caught up with the travelling performers, so why the big secret?!
There seems to be no character development either, you are introduced to auntie and Scariff for all of 5 seconds without a satisfying answer for their parting. Again, like Maureen, they were almost just objects in this book.
The thing that bugged me the most, was this weird love triangle between Maureen, Clara and their almost brother O'Neil. They grew up together, and were always treated as brother and sister, surely, it's a bit odd that this develops into a bit of a love story?! It creeps me out a bit, I know the book is clearly fiction, and the characters are not related by blood but it's still a bit odd for my taste. Ew.
I also found the actual writing of this story to be good, but it is just so dull. It's such a slow build up and I feel that there is no pay off at all.
This whole book is all just a bit odd and, well, the worst thing about that, is that it makes the book really hard to get into.
It's all a bit meh.
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