Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Merrow” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Secrets of Carrick)

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  574 ratings  ·  132 reviews
In this breathless and beautifully crafted tale, twelve-year-old Neen Marrey must separate town gossip from town lore to learn the truth about her mother - and herself.

The people of Carrick Island have been whispering behind Neen's back ever since her father drowned and her mother disappeared. The townspeople say her mother was a merrow and has returned to the ocean. Neen,
Paperback, 197 pages
Published 2010 by Black Dog Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Merrow, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  574 ratings  ·  132 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Merrow
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Steeped in Irish lore, Merrow is a nuanced coming-of-age that celebrates the power of stories.

Asghar Abbas
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing

I was looking for the sea
and I found it in this book, all of it.
I have to admit, my pet peeve is tenses that skip and slide out of place. Slipping from past to present and back again can work beautifully if done properly but here I simply felt that the author kept forgetting which time she was writing in!

That aside, Merrow has some really lovely moments and walks the line between fantasy and reality in a rather odd and interesting manner.
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
She is a wild girl, full of stories and covered in scales, growing up without a mother or a father. Although her aunt raised her it is the stories surrounding the island of Carrick that she lives on, stories of Other Ones, changeling's, the honey-tongued and cave people. But the stories she craves most are the stories of her own family, her great-grandfathers merrow wife, her fathers search for a sea wife, her mother's watery end.

With her affinity for water the long hot summer has driven her to
Annalise Grey
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-audio, library
I guess more like 3.5. The writing was lyrical and beautiful. But... the story ended up being more literary to the point that I was wondering what led me to pick it up in the first place. I had been expecting mermaids. You know... because the entire summary and plot revolves around mermaids! I read a few other reviews that questioned whether or not the mermaids even exist for real in this world. And I have to agree with them on this. Are there actual mermaids??? I really don't like books that ar ...more
Karyn Silverman
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nook, z2017-reads, ya
I loved so much about this - the place, the nature of story, the realness of Neen's struggle to make sense of her circumstances, the tales within the tale, the gentle flashes of humor, the tension between Christianity and paganism. So it killed me with the needless anachronisms. In the year 900-something (because Vikings and near the millennium), they didn't have figs or almonds on the Isle of Man. I want to give this five stars, but every time one of these references cropped up I was tossed out ...more
So it should be no surprise that Merrow caught my eye. Just look at that lovely cover. I dare anyone to pass up a book that clearly shows that mermaids will be involved. I'm a lover of all things fantastical, but mermaids have a very big piece of my heart. Alas, imagine my disappointment when I found out that, in fact, there may or may not actually be any mermaids hiding in Merrow. If you're looking for a very literary book, with a lot of descriptive writing, this is it. If you're looking for a ...more
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely beautiful! I felt like I was in Ireland and swimming in the ocean along with the mermaids and kelp. I loved the fantastical elements in this historical fantasy, placed at the time period where Christianity is first starting to work its way into rural Ireland. This is a slow and quiet story that portrays life in a small fishing village while exploring whether mermaids lurk below the waves. Merrow are an Irish myth that are a cross between Selkies and mermaids and I loved exploring thei ...more
Good story, but not great. A bit hard to get into it, and the characters do not elicit sympathy.

"Life is not fussy where it grows, but it is set hard on doing so."

"Soft feelings butter no parsnips."
Liz B
Nooooooot good for kids. Goodness knows I hated it. Now: there are in fact things to like about it, and I understand the award. Sometimes committees give awards to books that are literary even if they have zero audience appeal. This is one of those books.

I'm too bored to even attempt a plot synopsis.

The one thing that was interesting about it was the setting on the Isle of Man--it made me do some internet research to learn more about that island and its people.

Main character was a very realistic
Hannah H.
(spoiler alert)
For anyone who is considering reading this: know that there aren't actual mermaids in it.

I've read worse books, but I wouldn't recommend this one to anyone. It felt immensely slow and extremely disappointing. Honestly, I couldn't even explain what it was about. It kept dragging on and on with no identifiable basic plot structure (inciting incident, climax, etc.), and quite frankly, it bored me.

*Warning: spoilers ahead*

First off, the title and cover art gave me a certain expectatio
Dec 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Are stories meant to be truthful, or to make things right? There is a difference. This book is about that difference. It’s about the people who carry the stories and pass them on to those who need them. Set in a time where Christian missionaries have only begun to set foot on the farthest shores of Northern Europe, Merrow has all the necessary parts needed to make a fairytale. Instead, it’s a beautiful, rugged pastoral with subtle undertones for wildlife conservation.

« She’s not your mother. She
I need to start going with my instinct! This got multiple starred reviews and even though I thought it wouldn't appeal to Teens, I ended up purchasing it. It's exactly as I expected. Even though it's a short tale, I think it'll be a hard sell for teens. I thought it was pretty boring and I didn't really care about the characters. I'm still not sure if mermaids and mermen existed in this book or not. Frankly, I don't care at this point. There were also too many stories within the story. I felt li ...more
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Merrow is salty and murky and full of tales retold so many ways you're not quite sure what's true or if there is a single truth. If you're looking for a high fantasy, you may want to search elsewhere. This is a story of family and of longing and of magic that lurks in old traditions and wild places.
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, library
Drawing on the folklore and customs of the Isle of Man, this was a lovely read. Atmospheric and beautiful turns of phrase. Definitely recommend
Clare Snow
"Her voice is in the wind, her ears in the sea-caves and her heart beats in my stone-sack. Instead of carrying the stories, the stories now carry her."

I love this more than words can say.
Sarah Hannah
Aug 23, 2017 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, ya, fantasy
I love mer-anything, and I tried really hard to get into the writing, but it didn't keep my attention. Then I came here and saw it was part of a series, and I'm done with series. Done, I tell you.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Honestly, I don't have much to say about this book. I wasn't too interested at any point in the book. I was more bored reading it than anything and was pretty glad when it was over. It dragged on for me. The first few pages I thought it possibly would be interesting but sadly not. It started with the MC questioning her heritage, her family, where she came from. At first, I was interested and wanted her to find out what happened to her mother. But the plot took a deep dive for me.

One thing is tha
Rach H
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a marvelous twisty little book! It’s so full of secrets and stories and magic, and the setting and language are so vivid. Quite enthralling!
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya
The plot is hard to follow and a lot of the specialized vocabulary acts more as distraction than enhancement. This is not the book for someone looking for a fast-paced and compelling mermaid YA read. It might appeal more to an older audience interesting in Irish folklore and culture.
3.5 stars: Where does belief end and truth begin?

Neen, an orphan, lives with her Aunt Ushag on a small homestead next to the sea. Her father died before she was born and her mother left when she small and never returned. Stories abound about what happened to her mother, but the 2 main ones are that she drowned herself from grief, or that she went back to the sea to live with her people.

You see, Neen's family has had stories told about them for many long years now. They are touched by the Other
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
These was too much suspense and no mermaids!! I thought there were mermaids. :( It was more like a children's book about people on the Isle of Man that talked about Merrows, which I thought were mermaids.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Maggie Stiefvater
Recommended to E by: ARC
I received an advanced reading copy (ARC) of Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith from my local library. I found this book to be an excellent, quick read with an intriguing plot and inventive characters. I would highly recommend it to fans of Maggie Stiefvater. This book is definitely not for everyone due to it's fanciful, 'up in the air' writing, in which an unreliable young narrator attempts to discern fantasy from reality in a coming of age tale. In some ways the ending is the indecisive sort, leav ...more
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was not what I was expecting at all! I imagined it to be a bit of a celtic story about people turning into Selkies and Mermaids (in other words, a bit of a light-hearted read). In that regard, I must say this review will be slightly tainted by my expectations. I liked Neen's character, her inner turmoil, her quest for answers about her missing mother. I LOVED Ushag, learning what she went through, realising that she was only 14 when she started to bring up Neen in a reclusive area. In ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: coming-of-age
Orphaned Neen, yearning to be of merfolk descent, searches for the truth of her origins as she threshes through stories, folklore, gossip and events she believes, imagines, or knows to be true. She finds that “some stories are truer than facts” in a haunting coming-of-age story on the Isle of Man.

Raw, lyrical, beautifully written voice. “A yell got stuck in my gullet, and I couldn’t breathe. Like something out of Ushag’s traps, I was both skinned and gutted. Held in the thinnest of sacks
Samantha-Ellen Bound
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the dilemma facing Neen: marked by her scales, she is both an outsider in the community and a young girl eager to reclaim the truth about her family and her self. This is what feeds the story and gives it an emotional brevity – we all want to know where we fit in the world.

And it is a wonderful world Braxton-Smith creates. I love the way the characters speak; their vernacular, their quirks, and the stories they tell. I love the relationship between Neen and Ushag and the way it develops.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, fantasy
Neen is an orphan girl living in a seaside village. Her father drowned, her mother disappeared, and Neen can't help wondering if she herself is connected somehow. If the selkies that the townspeople whisper about have something to do with it, too. And she's bound and determined to discover the truth for herself. But is Neen prepared for the reality of what she will find?

Ooh, I enjoyed this. I don't know what it is about Australian young adult authors, but they tend to write mysterious, atmospher
DNF...although I DID really try.

Although I really liked how poetic and atmospheric the writing was, I didn't feel the book was getting anywhere as far as plot/action (from other reviews, I see that a lot of you had the same opinion). I know I've paraphrased this sentiment before: A good story cannot be built on descriptive writing alone. Also, I felt things were a bit deceptive. Going on the cover and synopsis, I thought there would be mermaids involved somehow. Really, really wanted that magica
Recommended if you liked Among Others by Jo Walton or The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. Mckillip. The writing has it's own distinct lyrical style combined with a strong character voice filled with yearning. Neen's realistic way of navigating magic as a part of life reminded me of how magic is imagined in Among Others. Also, the poetic and magical aspect of the seaside setting reminded me of The Changeling Sea but Merrow twists traditional tales in a slightly grittier realistic way. ...more
Victoria Whipple
Neen is being raised by her Aunt Ushag. Her parents both disappeared when she was very young. She lives on the wild side of an island, where she and her aunt mostly keep to themselves. Island lore contains tales of the Other; mermaids, merrows, and fairies among other creatures. Neen is trying to find the truth that she feels her aunt is hiding from her. She also discovers that the truth can greatly change certain aspects of her life, but is she willing to tell the whole truth, or hold some secr ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Plot twist? 2 10 Sep 26, 2017 10:59PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Death Wins a Goldfish: Reflections from a Grim Reaper's Yearlong Sabbatical
  • In the Country of the Blind
  • The Year's Top Short SF Novels 8
  • Cat Stories
  • Selkies are a Girl's Best Friend (Mystic Bayou, #3)
  • Cats of the Louvre
  • The Wind's Call (The Broken Lands, #4)
  • Shatter City (Impostors, #2)
  • Kristy and Mr. Mom (The Baby-Sitters Club, #81)
  • Heather the Violet Fairy (Rainbow Magic, #7)
  • A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clotee, a Slave Girl, Belmont Plantation, Virginia 1859 (Dear America)
  • Dawn and Whitney, Friends Forever (The Baby-Sitters Club, #77)
  • Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower
  • Maybe a Mermaid
  • The Toxic Parents Survival Guide: Recognizing, Understanding, and Freeing Yourself from These Difficult Relationships
  • Lily's Crossing
  • Dawn and the Big Sleepover (The Baby-Sitters Club, #44)
  • Claudia and Mean Janine (The Baby-Sitters Club, #7)
See similar books…
Ananda Braxton-Smith is a journalist and children’s writer who is passionate about communicating history to young people in new and innovative ways.

Other books in the series

Secrets of Carrick (3 books)
  • Tantony
  • Ghostheart (Secrets of Carrick #3)

News & Interviews

Ashley Poston made her name with Once Upon a Con, a contemporary series set in the world of fandom, and her two-part space opera, Heart of...
22 likes · 4 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“The facts of things do not store well. They rot and fall apart. But the stories we tell last and even grow.” 15 likes
“The living turn quickly from the dead. We can sit deathwatch for a time, but at last their great absence will remind us that we are still present, and we will need to get on with being so. Life is not fussy about where it grows, but it is set on doing so.” 2 likes
More quotes…