Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith is a quiet and beautiful tale of a girl trying to understand her mother’s disappearance and the rumors that have been circulating about her fantastical parentage. This book combines a rich historical setting of Ireland as Christianity is just starting to come into the land and the question of whether the Merrow (Irish mermaid/selkies) are real or not. If you’re looking for a book that sneaks up on you before sweeping you away to a mystical land, this is the one.
Note: I received an advanced copy of Merrow from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith (Secrets of Carrick #1)
Published by Candlewick Press on Nov. 8th, 2016
Genres: Historical Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 240 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley, Publisher
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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, caught in her hazy new in-between self—not a child, but not quite grown up—can’t help but wonder if the villagers are right. But if her mother was a merrow, then what does that make Neen?
- I loved the historic Irish setting. Neen lives in a small fishing village on Carrick Island and meets both monks from the new Christian religion and a viking far from home and unable to communicate much with the locals.
- I think I’ve finally found a book that I can conclusively point to as magical realism. The existence of the merrow is simultaneously an established myth of the community and a fantasy to take away the pain of Neen’s mother abandoning her. The entire book will have you waffling back and forth on whether the merrow actually do exist.
- This is one of those books that approaches the story in beautifully quiet voice. Neen is actually a pretty spunky girl, but she tells her story with a solemnity often found in children who have had to grow up too fast. The tone of the story just further builds the atmosphere of historic and magical Ireland.
- Merrow often emphasized the beauty of the everyday in Neen’s life. The joy of a full cooking pot over the fire, stories around a campfire, a small but important feast with friends. These details seem trivial to explain now, but as I was reading, they felt immensely important and almost soothing to read about.
- Merrow is definitely a slower book that builds gradually and doesn’t necessarily give you all the answers you were hoping for. If you are looking for something fast-paced and attention-grabbing, this isn’t going to work for you.
Merrow is a delightfully atmospheric book, perfect to curl up with when you want to feel like you are really swimming the Irish oceans and looking for merrow. If this sounds like a book you’d like, consider subscribing to Books on Dragonwings since its our December box and you’ll get lots of mermaid and Irish goodies to go along with it!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith
© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.