“There is no cure for being who you truly are,” Carrie Anne Noble writes in her novel “The Mermaid’s Sister.” The book, released March 1, tells the story of 16-year-old Clara and her sister Maren. The two live with a woman, “Auntie,” in a cottage atop Llanfair Mountain. Auntie loves to tell the stories of how the girls were brought to her cottage up in the mountain. Clara was carried to Auntie by a stork and Maren arrived inside of a large seashell. The girls love to hear magical stories from their Auntie about wicked fairies, witches and enchanted lands faraway from the mountains, but they never tire of hearing where they came from.
While Clara and Maren do not come from the same mother, they are very close to one another and call each other sister. The pair is always together with their friend O’Neill, who was also found as a baby under an apple tree, but one thing sets them apart — the shimmering scales that are growing on Maren’s skin. Clara cannot believe her sister could be turning into a mermaid. One night, the girls get into an argument about what will happen to Maren and Auntie tries to set them straight. “We’ve been pretending,” Auntie says, “pretending that your sister’s transformation was something yet to come, instead of something that has always been happening bit by bit. But you can’t erase a thing by not acknowledging it.”
Although Clara listens to her Auntie, she believes that Maren is supposed to stay with her on land. Knowing that no mermaid can survive on land, Clara and O’Neill decide to take Maren to the sea. Along the way, the trio encounters many obstacles in their gypsy wagon. The largest obstacle is an evil ensemble of traveling performers who trap the trio. They must find their way out and discover a way to save Maren as she continues to turn into a mermaid. When it all becomes too much for Clara, she says, “The world is not at all what I thought it was. There is more magic in it, and more mystery, and more pain.”
The most interesting aspect of this novel is how the author tells the story as if it is an old fable. This tale is one that feels magical yet realistic at the same time. The story tells of love, fantasy, magic and finding oneself. Clara cannot help but wonder who she is and why her sister is becoming a mermaid, but she is determined to find out. Although the characters of the novel are only teenagers, the story that is spun by Noble can be read by any age because of the adult twist she puts on the fairytale. While the story is filled with magic, the author set the pace to build up to the end, which at some points makes the story feel slow. Nevertheless, if you are interested in an imaginative escape from reality and a little bit of magic, pick up a copy of “The Mermaid’s Sister” this month.