I freely admit that I am not the biggest fan of romances. The kids in my library know the drill: if you want a romance recommendation ask the District Librarian, if you’re looking for the latest SF with scenes that *might* make you vomit, ask BBC.
That being said, I’ll read anything Jaclyn Dolamore writes, and I was lucky enough to get an ARC of BETWEEN THE SEA & SKY. While romance might not be my thing, good writing, character development, and a deft touch are definitely in my realm, and I snuggled in rather happily for the one sitting breeze-through that was this book.
Esmerine is a mermaid who is about to be inducted as a siren – the highest honor that can be bestowed upon their kind. Her older sister, Dosinia took the siren plunge a few years before, and proudly wears her gold belt as proof. It is a siren’s duty to collect the merpeople’s due from trading ships, and they spend their days on the surface rocks. Only certain mermaids have the calling to be a siren, but with it comes the curse of curiosity. Sirens have a history of being lured by human men to the shore, where their belts are stolen from them and they are lost to the sea forever, chained to the land by the man who possesses their belt. Despite many horror stories of human treachery, and a strict pledge all sirens take upon their induction, sirens have a habit of disappearing.
Esmerine is determined to be a good siren, despite the misgivings she feels as she says the words of her vow. Her childhood friendship with the boy Alandare – one of the winged Fandarsee people – is still a source of amusement among her fellow mermaids, as are her interests that go beyond combing her hair. Though Alandare and their long conversations still haunt her dreams, Esmerine takes the siren vow.
The next morning Dosinia is gone, and Esmerine fears that curiosity has led her sister to be entrapped by a human. Esmerine leaves the ocean behind her, trading her fins for legs in order to find her sister. If Dosinia’s belt can recovered, they can return to the sea and remain sirens together – forever. But there are more people in the city than Esmerine dreamed, and every step is the torturous price that mermaids pay for splitting their fin.
When she finds Alandare’s bookstore and he offers his assistance, Esmerine is drawn deeper into her questioning of the mermaid life. As her week ashore passes quickly, Esmerine wonders if she’ll have the heart to take Dosinia from her human husband, and if she’ll have the willpower to return herself.