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Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith
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So it should be no surprise that Merrow caught my eye. Just look at that lovely cover. I dare anyone to pass up a book that clearly shows that mermaids will be involved. I'm a lover of all things fantastical, but mermaids have a very big piece of my heart. Alas, imagine my disappointment when I found out that, in fact, there may or may not actually be any mermaids hiding in Merrow. If you're looking for a very literary book, with a lot of descriptive writing, this is it. If you're looking for a book that focuses on mermaids, you may want to look elsewhere.

Let's start with the good. First off, Neen Marrey was a character that I could absolutely get behind. She was strong, hardworking, kind, and honest to a fault. I loved that she felt realistic and, most of all, that her relationship with her Aunt was always perfect. Watching the two of them go through ups and downs, while still remembering to support one another despite what was thrown in their path, made me smile. Families, whatever their makeup, aren't always perfect, and I appreciated Braxton-Smith for highlighting that. I also very much enjoyed the story telling in this book. Neen's family history is passed down orally, which was quite a treat.

Now, as far as what bothered me, you'll actually find that my issue with this book is the same with the last review I wrote on this blog. If there is one thing I can't abide, it's books that rely solely on lyrical writing and purple prose, ignoring the actual world that they are building. Merrow reads beautifully. It's lilting, and moves like the ocean waves. What it doesn't do, is ever really pick up speed. This is a slow read and, truth be told, one that is very easy to skim. Neen's ultimate hunt for the fate of her mother was an interesting plot point but, since there didn't seem to be any actual mermaids here, one that I quickly lost track of. I still loved the family dynamic, and Neen's growth, but that initial reason I started reading this had gone out the window and so had the majority of my attention span.

As I said above, if you're looking for a book that is lyrical and reads like a folktale, then Merrow is absolutely for you. If, like I was, you're looking for a fantastical tale of mermaids? Well, you'd be better off looking elsewhere. I can see the draw to this book, and I know that many will love it from beginning to end. I just wasn't able to count myself among that number.
( )
  roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
Neen's father is dead, her mother is gone, and she lives with an aunt who won't tell her anything. She thinks her mother was a merrow, or mermaid, and that her yearning for the sea may mean she is one, too. Over the course of one unusually hot summer, Neen explores and ponders her ancestry and her place. Set in an ancient time on a Celtic island, Braxton-Smith uses place as a character and dialect as shifting moods. A slow start develops into a folkloric weave that grasps the reader, tugging them into Neen's frustrations while gentling Neen with the beauty and presence of place. A Note from the Author and a Glossary explain the Manx words, an old language from the Isle of Man that is being revived. ( )
  bookwren | Dec 22, 2016 |
"Everything turns into a story the moment it's done. The facts of things do not store well. They rot and fall apart. But the stories we tell last and even grow."

The Marrey family has long lived on a remote cove on a remote island in a Northern Sea. Twelve-year-old Neen Marrey has lived there all her life with her sour Auntie Ushag whose appetite for hard work and subsistence living leaves no room for the distant townsfolk's talk of the Others and the Otherwise. Besides, most of the talk centers on the Marreys anyway, especially since Neen's father drowned and her mam disappeared. Townsfolk say her mother was a merrow and returned to the sea. Even the Marreys only friends, Ma Slevin and her blind son, Scully, gifted with the Othersight, are filled with stories of the kraken, merrows, water horses, and the like. And what of Neen herself - afflicted with the Scales? Could her mother's merrow blood be running in her veins?

""All right?" asked Scully.
"I suppose so," I said. I wanted to be by myself. "Thank you."
I couldn't sleep that night. The sun going down made no difference. For a long while, there wasn't enough air to breathe. The weird blood swarmed in my chest, and I longed for morning. Not only that, the story stuck to every part of me: to my body with its scales, my mind with its waves and silver flashes, and my soul with its homesickness.
Scully Slevin is a true seer, and a honey-tongue with it. He has a word hoard bigger than any wrecker's haul, and he sees things nobody else does. That needs no proof. You only have to see him and hear him to know what he says is true.
Proof is for those with no eyes or ears in their heads."

Merrow is a coming-of-age story steeped in old world folklore and swimming in the atmosphere of a bygone time when Old Irish legends still held purchase in the hearts and minds of the island's people. The lines between truth and legend, dreams and reality, Catholicism and Celtic ways, are be blurred in this haunting, wistful story. Whether it is fanciful or realistic is for the reader to decide.

First published in Australia in 2010, as part of the Secrets of Carrick series, Merrow is coming to the U.S. this fall.

(Advance Reader Copy provided by the publisher at my request)

http://shelf-employed.blogspot.com/2016/05/merrow-review.html ( )
  shelf-employed | Jul 17, 2016 |
Beautifully written, but I found it a bit slow. ( )
  mmacd3814 | May 30, 2016 |
There is a mystery about what happened to Neen’ parents. Her Aunt Ushag says that Neen’s father drowned and her mother ran away but people in the village say that her mother was a merrow or mermaid. Neen isn’t sure what to think but her dreams of merrows disturb her and her aunt seems cold and distant.
The setting and language of this book adds charm to this story of a young girl’s search for identity. Suitable for teen girls. ( )
  RefPenny | Oct 14, 2010 |
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For Nigel, my own true Northman
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Auntie Ushag said I wasn't fit to be around.
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Some people think that facts are the only truth.
Some stories are truer than facts.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Enduring whispers about her absent mother's alleged merrow origins after her father drowns, twelve-year-old Neen questions her identity as she becomes increasingly torn between the worlds of the sea and her island home.

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