Cassi aka Snow White Haggard's Reviews > Between the Sea and Sky

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
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Mar 21, 2011

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bookshelves: kindle, galleys, read-in-2011, fantasy
Read from October 30 to November 01, 2011


I'm always drawn to mermaid fiction and generally speaking disappointed. I don't know why this subgenre is so hard to master. Maybe it's that Ariel is always peaking over our shoulder as only Disney movies can. Or maybe a world of fish and fins is somehow too foreign, more foreign than land-based fantasy tales and outer space adventures.

Between the Sea and Sky is better than most mermaid stories. I suspect a lot of people will really like this book. Especially if you like star-crossed love stories. But for me, it's just not quite there.

First I want to talk about what this book did right
1. Esmerine was a likable and believable main character. I know that seems like it should be a given, but the last mermaid book I read I didn't like any of the characters. She's the type of person you could root for. Esmerine is smart, caring and loves her family.
2. Consequences for magic - So often magic has no consequences. Mermaids in this story feel pain whenever they walk on land. I know where it comes from in mermaid lore (I may have done some research on the topic lately). It's a nice touch.
3. Not a love at first sight story. I was worried about this but there's actually a friendship first.
4. Not one species is "evil" or the bad guy. The story doesn't oversimplify things. There are good mermaids, good humans and good flying people.

Unfortunately I must also talk about what didn't work in this book for me. For me, the main flaw was that the stakes didn't seem high enough. Either she stayed on land or she didn't. Neither choice seemed drastically better than the other. I wasn't invested. Partially I think this is because the enchantment of the siren's belt wasn't very well explained. I didn't (and don't) understand the consequences of giving someone her belt. It stops the pain and there's some kind of enchantment involved but what that entails I don't know.

Another problem I have with this book is that apparently a underwater society didn't have any of the problems of our world on land. In the beginning we're introduced to a world where people have different jobs, the main character's family seems distinctly lower middle-class (they talk about things they can't afford), but then Esmerine is aghast at all the problems of land based society. There's poverty, beggars, cripples and she doesn't understand this at all. I find it unrealistic that an underworld world with some kind of economic system could exist entirely without poverty or flaws. To me this felt like a continuity error.

This book is well enough to read. I have no major issues with it (like I do with a lot of paranormal YA) but at the end of the day I felt pretty ambiguous towards it. I just didn't care enough. But I suspect a lot of people will enjoy the romance and skim over the flaws but I just expected more.
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Reading Progress

10/30/2011
9.0% "So today everything I read seems to be a muddling process. My mind/heart just isn't in it. (It was the same with the end of Hounded though I loved the rest). Think I should try again tomorrow. So far I'm like "Mermaids, sirens, did they just say something about piercing tails?" lol"
10/31/2011
15.0% "See today I'm in a better reading mood! I like the main character of this novel sooooo much more than the last mermaid novel I read. Hope it keeps it up."
10/31/2011
38.0% "Right now it's moving kind of slowly again. There's Esmerine being like "Oh I'm such a burden" and Alander being moody and me being like "What's both of your problems?" I think this book is a little younger than I anticipated, at least it seems at this point."
10/31/2011
76.0% "Why are other worlds (like under the sea or in the sky) always so idealistic? Apparently under the sea is perfect, with no beggars or poverty, but it has different jobs & money/trade. This is something I find unrealistic."
10/31/2011
89.0% "I'm really confused by the sisters seeming lack of pain but Esmerine doesn't want a life filled with pain. Am I missing something?"

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Roshini I think it's something to do with the belt - once she has given it up, she no longer feels pain?


Cassi aka Snow White Haggard Roshini wrote: "I think it's something to do with the belt - once she has given it up, she no longer feels pain?"

Yeah I figured that out last night (when I finished it) but I also missed that giving the belt was an enchantment as well. Either I wasn't paying attention or that wasn't well explained.

Originally I thought giving the belt ended the pain but then Esmerine kept talking like her life had no option but to be pain and the old mermaid bookshop owner was a cripple so I got confused.


Roshini Yep, here and there it got a little confusing, but overall I did like the book. What about you?


Cassi aka Snow White Haggard Roshini wrote: "Yep, here and there it got a little confusing, but overall I did like the book. What about you?"

I liked it but I don't feel very strongly towards it. It's better than the other mermaid stuff out there but I don't know that I found myself caring enough about the outcome. (I'm giving it 3 stars as well which is what I see you gave it).


Roshini Yep, I liked some of her descriptions, but other than that, I still prefer Magic Under Glass.


Cassi aka Snow White Haggard Magic Under Glass is on my TBR list I believe (if not its on the mental one).

I just don't feel like the stakes were very high in this book. Either she stayed on land or she didn't.


Wendy Darling I've started this a few times but haven't gotten past the first page. The "3 stars" isn't really encouraging...


Cassi aka Snow White Haggard Wendy Darling wrote: "I've started this a few times but haven't gotten past the first page. The "3 stars" isn't really encouraging..."

It's better than Lost Voices, but that book was a mess. If you can't get past the first few pages then I'd just let it go.

Part of why I pushed through is I'd already decided to use a mermaid type character in my NanoWriMo because our previous conversations about mermaid books.


Wendy Darling Either I wasn't paying attention or that wasn't well explained.

I think it wasn't well explained. :/


Cassi aka Snow White Haggard Wendy Darling wrote: "Either I wasn't paying attention or that wasn't well explained.

I think it wasn't well explained. :/"


Glad to know it wasn't just me.


Nicole Shipton I agree it wasn't without its flaws, but I did enjoy it just because it was an easy, feel-good read. I would have also liked to have had the magic of the siren's belt explained more though.


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