Title: The Mermaid's Mirror
Author: L. K. Madigan
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Cover Designer: Carol Chu
Age Audience: YA
Summary: Lena has lived her whole life near the beach—walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves. The problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will learn to surf. But her father—a former surfer himself—refuses to allow her to take lessons. After his near drowning years ago, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport. Yet something keeps drawing Lena to the water...an ancient, powerful magic. And one morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman—with a silvery tail. Now nothing can stop Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove. And soon...what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life forever.
The Mermaid's Mirror (which I don't think is a good title, because the story actually had little to do with the mirror) is the first mermaid book I’ve read in a long time, the last one I read was a children's book called The Tail of Emily Windsnap. While I admit that "The Little Mermaid" is one of my favorite fairy tales/Disney movies, I’m not really into mermaids when it comes to literature.
You see, mermaid stories are always predictable. The main character always lives by the sea and needs to have always been “mysteriously drawn” toward it. And for some reason their parents are overprotective when it comes to the water. And then they discover that one of their real parents is a mer-person and spends time with them underwater before they choose whether to live on land or sea.
Anyways, I really enjoyed the first half of this book. It could have passed for realistic fiction. While the detail surrounding Lena’s town and school was chalky, the lush descriptions of the beach made up for it. You could tell that the author actually spent time at the beach rather than just looking at pictures online.
Kai and Lena’s relationship, with Lena unsure of how she really feels about Kai, was pleasantly realistic. However, I didn’t like Lena at all. She was very self-centered. Especially when she goes to the movies with her friends and then tricks them so she can sneak off to go surfing. Lena had so little regard for others!
The second half of the book, in which Lena (this is sort of a spoiler, but this happens in all mermaid stories, so you knew it was coming) goes underwater with her mermaid mother, feels completely different from the first half. In the Afterward, Madigan mentions that The Mermaid’s Mirror was originally going to be a middle grade/children’s book. I think that most of the second half stayed true to the original children’s manuscript. Madigan’s underwater world was underdeveloped and too simple; the mer-people and their way of life were full of clichés. I have some issues with the relationship Lena has with a mer-man, but I don't want to give away too many spoilers. Also, I think that because Lena was half-mermaid, she should have had more magic. For example, she could have had legs when on land and a tail when in the water or something like that.
The ending was good in my opinion. It was conclusive, but the plot wasn't wholly resolved so there's still room for a sequel.