“A fish may love a bird, signore. But where will they live?”
~ Ever After
Evoking the classic fairytale feel of Hans Christian Andersen, Jaclyn Dolamore has woven a beautiful tale about a fish who loved a bird. Esmerine, a mermaid on the cusp of adulthood, anxiously awaits her siren’s initiation. For as long as she can remember, Esmerine and her sister Dosia have dreamed about being sirens together and a life beyond the confines of the sea. However, after Esmerine’s siren ceremony, Dosia goes missing. Esmerine, terrified that her sister has been lured to the human world to an existence of pain and misery, leaves behind sea and family determined to find Dosia and save her. Along the way, Esmerine stumbles upon an old childhood friend, the winged man, Alander. Parted by circumstances beyond their control so many years before, Esmerine and Alander have never forgotten one another, and their friendship begins evolving into something more. Can there be a happily ever after for a love that exists between the sea and sky?
As with her lovely debut, Magic Under Glass, Dolamore has once again demonstrated her incredible ability to craft beautiful fairytale worlds and characters. Mermaids who can transform their fins to legs. A race of winged people who harness the magic of the wind. Humans from exotic lands unknown. Medieval towns, cities on cliffs and craggy rocks where sirens sing to passing ships. A mysterious history,only hinted at, filled with ancient beings, knights and oracles. All these things combine to create a fantastic, dimensional canvas onto which Dolamore paints her story.
Both main characters surprised me as they were somewhat different than what I was expecting, and pleasantly so. Esmerine was not at all what I imagined a siren to be – wild, free-spirited and perhaps a little impetuous or reckless. That description would more accurately be applied to Dosia. Instead Esmerine is cautious, mindful of consequences, responsible, and rather mature for her sixteen years. She adores the world of written stories ever since introduced to books by a much younger Alander who taught her to read. Because of her friendship with Alander, she’s endured the stigma from her fellow Mer of being that “odd” girl who associated with “that winged boy.”
Alander was an interesting male lead. Bookish, serious, intense and straight-laced, he was a unique change from the alpha-male heroes that so often populate young adult romances. With his rigid ideals of the man he should be and bearing the weight of his father’s disapproval, Alander is much different than the boy Esmerine once knew and watching his character develop as his friendship with her rekindles is one of my favorite parts of the story. I also love the descriptions of him and the Fandarsee, the winged people – what they looked like, their society and how their wings worked. It felt like a very creative, original concept.
The romance. It’s probably quite apparent by now that every book I pick up has some kind of romantic storyline. And this book is no exception. I just adore the concept of two totally different creatures falling in love with each other. Not only does their love face opposition by outside forces but because of what they are, it’s also completely impractical. But when is passion or love ever practical? It’s this wide gulf that separates them from being together – the crucial problem you don’t know if they’ll be able to find a way past – that drove this story for me.
While I loved the characters, the world and the romance of Between the Sea and Sky, at times the story fell just a little bit flat. At times it felt more like a middle grade novel than young adult, but it could be that this book is supposed to fall somewhere in between. At times the story seemed a bit rushed with not enough detail and depth for my liking, but then other times it felt like the pacing was really slow. I also had some issues with the conclusion that I’m not going to share here, for obvious reasons. But despite these detractors, I really enjoyed Esmerine and Alander’s story and being immersed in their world.
Overall, In Between the Sea and Sky, Dolamore has created an enchanting, beautiful fairytale about the things that would separate and the love that binds.
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Title: Between the Sea and Sky
Expected Publication: October 25th 2011 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
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