I have heard so much buzz about this book, so I was super excited to get a signed proof copy from Hot Key Books. It's an unusual premise for a YA novel, mermaids, but worked so well. I don't think I've read many mermaid books before. The story follows Lorali, a mermaid who has surfaced in an english seaside town, where she washes up (naked) in a storm and meets a bewildered teenage boy, Rory. There are multiple points of view, with chapters narrated by Lorali, Rory, and The Sea. It's a great story, tying in all these points of view, showing the relationship between the sea and the land and the inhabitants of each. It's a modern setting, with mobile phones and blogs, but there are pirates at sea, who either hunt or respect the mer-people, and fight amongst each other. The mermaids have their home in the Whirl, a deep, hidden part of the sea, and mostly fear the people on land, for there is a history of hunting and capturing mermaids for their tapestries (tails). Laura Dockrill manages to very quickly show us this world she has built, and explain its history and people, in what could easily become a series of novels from this world (although not necessarily continuing to follow Lorali's story). A tip top story, balancing the fantastical with the mundane.
Five things I loved about Lorali:
1-The Sea chapters are great, providing an almost omniscient voice, which fills the reader in on the histories of characters, and the present goings on in and on the sea. These chapters aren't just for details and info though, The Sea is a character in her own right.
2-The lore of how mermaids become mermaids was brilliant, and I don't know much mer-lore, but I was pretty convinced of this theory. I also like the idea what this could be happening all across the world, maybe a sequel could show us mer-life in another ocean.
3-The reaction of the British public to news of mermaids was perfect too, with newspaper articles and blog posts working really well in between chapters. It again added another perspective, and gave the character narrators events to react to without them having to explain everything to the reader in an unnatural way.
4- Lorali herself was a wonderful, joyful character. Her story was a perfect fairy tale beginning, with the protected princess escaping the confines of her castle and finding adventure. Her curiosity and confusion as she slowly figured out her own story was great. I also loved the idea of female mermaids being the dominant sex, that was a nice touch.
5- The ending was perfect for the story, and I won't spoil it but it captured the theme of two separate worlds perfectly.
Bonus- The beautifully preened pirates was such good idea. The strong, menacing, pirates also being perfectly tailored and coiffed, with their fine dining and crisp white sheets made for great characters and gave them the air of an elite club.