Title: Between the Sea and Sky
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
May Contain Spoilers
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 Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare 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.
I enjoy Jaclyn Dolamore’s writing style. She reminds me a lot of Patricia McKillip or Robin McKinley, with gently flowing prose and interesting world-building tidbits, but she doesn’t spoon-feed a ton of details to the reader. The plot is slowly unraveled, a thread at a time, in a somewhat leisurely fashion. While there are moments of extreme danger for the protagonists, the challenges they face never seem insurmountable, and you know that they will eventually be overcome. The protagonist in Between the Sea and Sky is Esmerine, and I had total confidence in her from the first page. So the reading journey wasn’t so much about whether she would accomplish her goals, it was about how she would achieve success, and how much she would change because of her journey.
Esmerine has eagerly waited to become a siren so that she and her beautiful older sister, Dosia, can sing together with the other sirens and warn off ships when they don’t pay tribute to the mer-people. When Dosia disappears, Esmerine is frantic with worry. Was she kidnapped by a human? Is she being held against her will? Ignoring the concerns of her parents, Esmerine determinedly strikes out after her sister. She can’t rest until she is certain that Dosia is not in danger.
I liked the world-building for the mermaids. Some of them are drawn to be with humans, even though it means the risk of having their magical belts stolen. Whoever owns their belt owns the mermaid and her powers, so it’s imperative that Esmerine protect hers at all cost. When she is away from the water, and when she walks in human form, her feet and legs are in constant pain. There is a price to be paid to be away from her sea, and Esmerine must endure the agony if she is to find her sister.
Esmerine meets up with an old friend in the city, and at first she is delighted to see Alan again. Soon, though, she begins to fret that he considers her a nuisance. Did she read too much into their childhood friendship? I enjoyed the sweet romance between Alan and Esmerine. Alan is of a winged race, and a future for them seems impossible. Esmerine convinces him to help her find her sister, though, and the two head off to face the unknown. With the odds of them finding Dosia stacked against them, and peril on the road, their journey appears unlikely at best. It’s Esmerine’s stubbornness that keeps them moving forward, and her sheer force of will that propels her toward success.
Between the Sea and Sky is a character driven fantasy that may not move fast enough for some readers. Events build upon themselves, slowly gaining momentum and crescendoing to a satisfying conclusion. I am looking forward to more of Jackie’s books!
Review copy provided by publisher