Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn’t exactly how Rory had imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from. Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and become human. But along with Lorali’s arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory’s bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp-collared shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a Tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong, anyway?
I was extremely cautious to not confuse this book’s ideas with The Little Mermaid, as I felt like that film did a similar thing with Twilight… it seems like nowadays whenever there is a mermaid reference there is this unspoken rule that red hair is mandatory! The choice for Warner Bros to not make Ariel’s hair blue shocked a lot of people… I am guessing they are just trying to be indie. Anyway, I think it is interesting how one film could change the world’s viewpoints on a certain ideal. The marketing is strong in this one… anyone get it? Star Wars? *sigh*
I found that the writing style was very much describing the appearances of characters in great detail, and less about their surroundings. This could indicate that the location almost was not that necessary and it was more about what they looked liked and their characteristics – but what I found interesting about this wonderfully written book, is that the formatting of sentences was completely different, depending on the person who was speaking. Rory’s style is relatively standard, and talks in detailed but short sentences. Lorali’s has short, punchy sentences which can symbolise her trying to find her voice and not being used to vocalising her thoughts. The Sea has a long-winded but calming sort of flow, reminding me of an old man sitting on a tree stump (maybe with a pipe in his hand) telling this grand tale to his grandchildren. I only really clocked this until two thirds into it, but it was a detail that I very much appreciated.
I felt like this book raised some really interesting political topics, and yet it was subtle enough that you did not feel like everything said was a symbolic message. Take Opal for example, she came into the human world with good intentions to build bridges between the Mer and the Walkers, but when she is suddenly showered in gifts from Christian Dior and Prada she cuts her mermaid ties and decides to live a life of luxury. Maybe a reference to politicians? It is definitely something to ponder about…
*Spoiler alert in this paragraph*
Another thing that got me thinking… I was extremely shocked when Otto decided to leave Elvis for the bird-women, but what made me even more shocked was when Elvis was begging for mercy, calling for his mum and dad… it was devastating to read. It made me think about mercy and forgiveness. What Elvis did was awful, yet the act in itself has a very immature mindset – the “I thought if she didn’t like you anymore, things would be back to normal.” mindset is common in most teen flicks… it just happened to involve a mermaid. I think what Dockrill was trying to communicate was that maybe Elvis might not have died if The Ablegares maybe thought a little bit more rationally and could have saved a life. In their eyes, he was a weasel and an awful friend… but in my eyes, in his final moments, I saw a scared boy who just wanted to be recognised by his loved ones.
As a feminist, of course I want female characters that I could relate to, someone that I could identify with. When meeting Rory’s mother, I assumed she would be a soppy, absent mother, who would do nothing but mope about all day. It is understandable why she might have been like that, but there would not have been much character growth. What made me extremely excited about this character was when she said, “I want to be strong.” That made a huge impact on her and Rory’s relationship, showing that she no longer wants to wallow in sadness and is determined to finally be a proper mother to him… which I find incredibly and depressingly ironic, considering what happens with her encounter with the bird-women…
I admit I was sad at the way the book ended, as I felt there were too many loose ends. The one thing I did wish was that Rory had more time with the pirates, it seemed like a rushed Marvel montage when the superhero is training for the big climactic moment in the film. I really wanted this relationship with The Ablegares to be fully fleshed out, and I wanted to see a real bond with all of them. To me, it just felt rushed.
Plus, I felt Lorali’s supposed love for Rory was underdeveloped. I believed Rory when he said he loved her because of the build-up – the way he described his heart beating faster, the way he was speechless when he touched her skin.. it was the small things that really made the relationship believable. Whereas for Lorali, I only really noticed that she loved Rory until she said it out loud… in the last 100 pages of the book. Maybe there were some signals that I missed, but it just felt like Lorali’s feelings for Rory were hurried to let the audience know that they do love each other.
In summary, though the ending may have left me wanting a sequel, I felt that this book was absolutely gorgeous. I loved all of the characters, all of them had brilliant character development and were believable. The way Dockrill described the tapestries on the Mer made me read in awe. This book, I think, would be perfect for young adults and for teenagers (hence why I found it and bought it at YALC) – just… go and buy it now!
I shall not be writing another review before Christmas, so I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and that your holiday includes snow falling off of your rooftops! I shall see you in two weeks!