- ISBN-13: 9780763679248
- ISBN-10: 0763679240
- Publisher: Candlewick Press (MA)
- Publish Date: November 2016
- Page Count: 240
- Reading Level: Ages 14-UP
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.85 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-09-26
- Reviewer: Staff
Twelve-year old Neen Marrey has been raised by her maternal aunt, Ushag, and brought up on stories of merrow (mermaids), selkies, krakens, and changelings. When Neen was a toddler, her fisherman father drowned and her mother disappeared soon after, leaving whispers and speculation in their wake. Neen harbors the secret belief that her mother simply rejoined her true family, the merrow that live below the sea, and that she will soon return for Neen. The discovery of a hidden cave and the arrival of a near-drowned Northman lead to unexpected revelations about both the local lore and Neens mother. This quiet, introspective novel from Australian writer Braxton-Smith sparkles with lingering imagery and expressive writing. Readers will be easily drawn into Neens determined efforts to piece together a true understanding of the mother she barely knew, whose story has been muddied by the unkind stories and rumors shared by locals. Neens sense of displacement fades as the wall between herself and Auntie Ushag, created by long-kept secrets, begins to crumble, earning them hard-won contentment and kinship. Ages 14up. (Nov.)
Mermaids—myth or magic?
All her short life, Neen has heard the rumors. They say her mother was a mermaid, a merrow. They say that when her father drowned, her mother followed him back to her home on the ocean floor. Neen’s tight-lipped Auntie Ushag swears there’s nothing to the gossip, but Neen isn’t so sure. The sea’s swelling waves beckon her in a way she doesn’t quite understand. And if her mother were a merrow, it would certainly explain the strange, almost scaly skin condition that covers both her arms.
Packed with adroitly selected physical details and stirring, folklore-inspired nested narratives, Ananda Braxton-Smith’s Merrow follows Neen on her journey of discovery and self-realization. From skeletons in caves to colloquial yarns about local sea monsters, each encounter forces Neen to reconsider her world and her place in it. Is her island home full of merrows and other fantastical beings, or just everyday people struggling to understand their everyday lives? Is she the offspring of a mermaid returned to sea, or just the daughter of a depressed widow who couldn’t bear to live without her husband?
As Neen tries to parse the real from the imaginary and the mythic from the mundane, she comes to understand the power of stories—how they can bind and destroy us, or shape and sustain us.