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April 16, 2012 / Chersti Nieveen

book review: BETWEEN THE SEA AND SKY by Jaclyn Dolamore

Dolamore, Jaclyn. Between the Sea and Sky. New York: Bloomsbury, 2011.

Similar Books: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore; Sun, Mon, Ice, Snow by Jessica Day George; Sirena by Donna Jo NapoliForbidden Sea by Shelia A. Nielson; Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren–the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn’t seen since childhood–a dashing young man named Alander, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alander band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air
Excerpt

It was not every day that a mermaid became a siren, and not every day that Esmerine attended such a party. It seemed just yesterday that she had moped at home while her older sister, Dosinia, had spent the week in a whirlwind of ceremony and celebration for her siren’s debut. Now Esmerine’s turn had come.

The Review

When it comes to renewing one of the Classics with a genre twist, Dolamore is masterful. Magic Under Glass was Jane Eyre in a steampunk world. And now we have Between the Sea and Sky, which retells the story of The Little Mermaid mashed with Pride and Prejudice in afantasy setting.

While the book didn’t hit the emotional depth of either original (or some of the other mermaid stories, like Donna Jo Napoli’s Sirena), it does have a great world with amusing characters to share. The storyline loosely follows the Pride and Prejudice plot, within a world of such beauty and intensity that I’d love to vacation there. All the side characters the protagonist runs into along her journey are unique and memorable, with special focus on the differing worlds and cultures in the book. I loved the unique element of the sky people with wings, and how the world has to interact with them as well as the mermaids. Rumors spread and prejudices happen. The romance is so sweet and earnest that I was just begging for Esmerine and Alander to get together by the end of the book.

Overall, a very satisfying read.

Suggested Reader Age:Perfect for middle-grade or YA readers, with no older themes to cause concern for younger readers.

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9 Comments

  1. Kimi Liskin / Apr 18 2012 7:38 pm

    This book looks awesome – thanks for the suggestion!

  2. britters / Apr 18 2012 7:41 pm

    That sonds like an good mashup – pride and prejudice + the little mermaid. i love both of those stories!!!! thx. hopefully my library has it.

  3. Writer Jessie / Apr 18 2012 7:50 pm

    I really liked Magic Under Glass, so I’ll have to go buy this one. I’m not so excited about mermaid stories anymore, but this one sounds intriguing. What are the sky people like? And is there a ‘Jane’ character?

  4. Chersti Nieveen / Apr 19 2012 3:04 pm

    Kimi Liskin: You’re welcome!

    Britters: Honestly, I think this book is good enough to buy. I know I’ll be reading it again.

    Writer Jessie: Mermaid stories aren’t my favorite, but I’ve seriously found a few I just adore. They stand out of the crowd, and just have such an interesting world and fabulous, in-depth characters that I can’t help but love it. And to answer your question, there is and older sister who is kind of more like Lydia than Jane. And the Sky people are amazing. Wings and flying, and just so unique!

  5. Tiffany / Apr 19 2012 3:17 pm

    Ok, so this book looks awesome but what intrigued me most about the review is your comment about a different book being a mashup of Jane Eyre and steampunk–must find this! 😀

  6. Chersti Nieveen / Apr 19 2012 3:22 pm

    As much as I liked this book, I absolutely adored MAGIC UNDER GLASS. Not only does it have an amazing cover, but it’s just so creative and a brilliant read!

  7. Shallee McArthur / Apr 19 2012 4:33 pm

    I saw this in the bookstore and seriously contemplated buying it. (No book budget currently, though.) Thanks for the review, it piques my interest even more!

  8. Joel Smith / Apr 19 2012 8:55 pm

    Was I the only one who saw the cover and thought, “What is this cover trying to portray?”. I mean, really. Apparently it’s all “romantical” between the sky and the sea ;-).
    That aside, it does sound intriguing!

    • Chersti Nieveen / Apr 21 2012 11:03 am

      Yeah, maybe it’s not your kind of book from that angle. The book goes for a very strong romance storyline, which is pretty fun. But maybe Natalie will like it 🙂

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