Jessie (Ageless Pages Reviews)'s Reviews > Between the Sea and Sky

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
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Sadly, much like Cayla Kluver's Legacy or Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison, this mermaid tale is another case of Beautiful Cover, Big Ol' Mess inside the alluring facade. Though this young-adult novel is technically not a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's famous Little Mermaid, the story is obviously influenced by and similar to that long-loved tale. Both the pain of land, the belt/chastity allegory are all in tune with the familiar story - and very little is done by the author to differentiate her version. Between the Sea and Sky is the tale of a bookish teenage mermaid - though she is soon to be elevated into the exclusive and respected sirens - named Esmerine. Esmerine's tale is about her search for her sister Dosinia, a fellow siren disappeared from the sea abruptly. It's a simple story in a very simple style that somehow manages to still take quite a bit of effort to finish. I have been on the look out for a good mermaid story, but sadly for me, Between the Sea and Sky failed to deliver a well-rounded, interesting, or even wholly appropriate mermaid tale.

Esmerine is not a very well-rounded or even developed young-woman. Her personality seems too-perfect at best and mismatching or altered to appeal at worst. I never felt invested in the young mermaid; from her dialogue and her actions, she constantly came across as too young and too immature. As "the brain of the family" Esmerine sticks out from all other merfolk: she can read and write, and has even been friends with one of the detested and avoided "sky people". I can't say I really rooted for Esmerine during her search for Dosia- it's a fairly boring trek that seems to consist of Esmerine sitting and waiting while another actually searches for her sister. The role of the sirens as well, that of luring men to their deaths using song/beauty/etc., also seem strangely out-of-tune with the almost MG tone and feel of this novel. Between the Sea and the Sky occasionally borders on uncomfortable side with the random mentions of (and fixation upon) breasts, in addition to the more mature themes randomly mixed into the story.

The "winged people" that Esmerine knows and talks to are the Fandarsee - winged humans that are essentially Mercurys - they transport messages. One reason (among many) that this novel irritated me: the merfolk and Fandarsee resent/avoid/hate the other but no real reason is provided for the animosity between the races. So naturally, when Esmerine has feelings for a 'darsee, they cannot be together because. . . of an obvious plot device by the author. It's obvious, unreasonable and needed better plotting. Alander or "Alan Dare" is the male love-interest for Esmerine; a friend from her childhood she has since (6 years) not seen. Speaking of which, Alandare reminds me of my second quibble: humans/their normal world are mentioned often throughout the story, but no information is given as to if the mermaids/Fandarsee are known outside of those encountered personally by humans. It just felt like a glaring error: I never knew what the status of the characters were and the worldbuilding suffered. And when I say worldbuilding, I'm being a tad sarcastic. There's barely any time devoted during the narrative to describe or enliven the underwater realm, which seemed by far the most interesting and with the most unique possibilities of all the places in the novel.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Wendy Darling Bleh. It didn't get any better.


Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) No, a mess from start to finish sadly. I am trying to figure out how to write a review that nails it as thoroughly as yours.


Wendy Darling Your review is dead on, Jessie. Such a disappointment. :/


Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) Thanks! And yes, I wanted so much more from it :(


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