The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan: Steph’s review


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 no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf. But her father – a former surfer himself – refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.

Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman—with a silvery tail. Nothing will keep 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 …


Fellow Novel Novice staffer Sara and I think alike in many ways, but we’ve agreed to disagree on our reactions to the ending of The Mermaid’s Mirror. In her review, Sara said the ending was “utterly satisfying,” but I actually sent her an e-mail that started like this: “NO! No, no, no, no!”

And thus was my initial reaction to the ending. So let me back up and explain.

The Mermaid’s Mirror starts out as a fantastic example of contemporary/realistic fiction, much like Madigan’s other novel, Flash Burnout (seriously, check it out.) Then it makes the giant leap into fantasy when Selena (Lena) realizes she’s drawn to the water because she’s actually half mermaid.

So far, so good — Madigan handles this nicely and readers should have no problems “suspending their disbelief.” She creates a fantastic world in which merfolk could exist, weaving mythology and lore into a modern setting rife with problems faced by many teens — nontraditional families, love vs. lust, rebelling against parents, taking risks, following your instincts, etc. It’s wonderful to dive into this new world (forgive the pun) and see it materialize.

But then Lena’s pivotal crisis happened at the same time mine did as a reader. I wasn’t convinced she made the right choice. I wanted to know more. I wanted more depth and details and time. I wanted to get to know these new characters better and I wanted Lena to have that chance, too. To this reader, the end felt jolting and rushed, which is why I hope Madigan turns this book into a series where she can address the things that got short shrift.

I asked her if she had any thoughts about writing a sequel and this is what she said: “I hope so! Sequel is in my head … I’m just about ready to start putting words on the page … ”

If she does, I’ll be first in line.

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