Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

For her sixteenth birthday, Lena wants nothing more than for her father to teach her how to surf. But Lena’s father has not so much as set a toe into the inviting waves since Lena was a small child. Unable to resist the lure of the ocean, Lena secretly takes up surfing lessons from her boyfriend Kai’s older sister, Ani, and discovers that she is a natural. Pleased by this, Lena is finally ready to take on the waves at Magic Crescent Cove, a dangerous area for surfing; but it is the only place Lena can go if she hopes to see the mermaid again.

After Lena’s disobedience is discovered, a few buried family secrets surface and Lena’s life is never the same again. Giving in to the pull of the ocean, Lena embraces her other half and must decide if she belongs on the land or in the sea with her mermaid kin. The longer she wears her mother’s seal skin, the more she forgets Kai, her father, her brother, and the woman who raised her when Lena’s biological mother returned to the sea.

Mermaids have always been my favorite mythological creatures, and I knew I had to read L.K. Madigan’s The Mermaid’s Mirror. The writing is beautiful and haunting, and I could really relate to Lena’s desire to disappear beneath the waves and transform into a mermaid. Madigan perfectly captures the bonds between brother and sister, father and daughter, and mother and daughter. I have to admit that when I reached the end and knew it couldn’t end perfectly for each character, my eyes got a little wet.

I know that Madigan herself has a fascination for mermaids, so I had high expectations for the underwater world she created. I appreciated her explanations for how mermaids communicated with one another, their sleeping habits, and their food preferences, but overall the world building is really weak. In one scene, mermaids were drinking from goblets, but realistically no liquid could stay separate from sea water. And do mermaids really need to drink anything anyway?

There is also a bit of a love triangle between Lena, Kai, and a merman named Nix, but I didn’t feel much emotion reading the scenes between Lena and either of her boyfriends. What attracted Nix to Lena, and Lena to Nix? What did they have in common with each other? I felt very little for either of them once Lena’s fate was decided.

The Mermaid’s Mirror is one of the more enjoyable mermaid novels I’ve read, but I found it to be lacking in many areas. I love Madigan’s writing style, and already have her award-winning Flash Burnout downloaded to my Kindle for another day.

Rating: 3.5/5

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.