This was absolutely charming.
I got this through Kindle First just because it looked kind of interesting and hey, free books! I wasn't really expecting to like it a whole lot, but it seemed short and like it had some potential and I thought the cover was beautiful.
This was very much a fairy tale, and it followed the basic fairy tale format, but it was lovely to see something new being written and not just a rehashing (much as I love them!) of an older fairy tale. Having a mermaid being a central figure was also interesting; I feel like it is relatively rare and when they do show up in YA fiction they exist the same way vampires seem to lately: they have only the good aspects and none of the bad and they do not end up feeling like anything other than "special" humans.
Maren feels like a mermaid. She has some serious problems because of her transformation and it is how dangerous this transformation is that sets up the central conflict of the story.
But it is not her story.
Clara, the titular "Mermaid's Sister," takes center stage in this fantasy. She loves Maren like the sister she was raised as, but has appropriately confused feelings about watching her turn into the mermaid she was born to be. She wonders how this is going to affect her life and their relationship, and she wonders whether she will ever feel as sure of her destiny as Maren does.
It is a coming of age for both sisters, really, and for their friend O'Neill as they are forced to band together without their guardians on a journey to try and save Maren. There are twists and turns and they end up learning a lot about themselves and what they are capable of as they work towards a solution that seems sure to part them.
The relationship between the three orphans, raised sometimes together and sometimes apart, is the central focus of the story. It is a story about family and what it means, and about love and all of the different types of it. The conclusion is both uplifting and a bit bittersweet, and suits the tone of the novel perfectly.
I'm really happy I read this. I'll be keeping an eye on the author for further novels, too; this was remarkably well done for a first novel and I can't wait to see what else she may write.