Review of Between the Sea and Stars by Chantal Gadoury

A Legend, 
A Magical Shell 
A Girl Who Dreamed Of Something More… 
Lena, a Merrow girl, lives in the Skagerrak sea with her father, Carrick and her brother, Javelin who tells her of the legend of the Merrow Queen murdered by her human lover when greed takes over. But what’s worth spilling the queen’s blood? Gifted from Poseidon, himself, a magic shell gives any human the ability to control both land and sea. 
When Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land. 
With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner. 
Trying her best to hide who she is and remain safe from the dangers of the human world, will Lena finally find where she belongs, or will she be swept into a strong and stormy current by lust, greed, and jealousy?

Between the Sea and Stars follows the current trend for fairytale retellings and appears very loosely based on the tale of The Little Mermaid, that’s not to say that it’s a retelling by numbers though.  The story has great mix of content with a nod to Disney in there too, but mainly it has a whole world of imagination in the direction the story is taken. Lena is the perfect example of a sheltered child, one who has not had much to fear in her life and is therefore more reckless. Sadly her inability to recognise her own recklessness has dire consequences.  I liked how Lena’s transformation was not sugar coated, not just focusing on the creation of her legs but also the impact on her lungs as she went through the realisation that the water that she breathed now had the capacity to drown her.

Through seemingly good fortune Lena quickly finds herself with a roof above her head and a plausible story as to how she came to be on the beach that night. She comes to care for the elderly Edwin, an utterly charming character, and befriends the bookish Soren and so her life starts to be pulled in different directions  – those who believe in the Merrow folk and those who believe it all to be simply legend. Around it all hovers the villainous Lord Jaarl, always there to cause fear and spout cryptic clues that give Lena pause. Pieces of the story start to slot into place as Lena finds out more about those who inhabit the land so close to the sea where she grew up, these appear in tantalising morsels and I really loved how the parallels were delicately weaved.

There are some beautiful lines as well, a stand out for me was “sorrow drops anchor in the eve, but it often sails away with the dawn.” but there were many in this story which truly is beautifully written, I never found it lulled or was a chore to read.  That being said I was kind of disappointed that it left of where it did, going into this I was surprised to see it was part of a series as many retelling’s are stand alone.  There is a lot of of world building and character development, which is awesome but the action seemed all to take place within the last few pages and left me clawing for a few pages more!  I also have to say well done to the author as writing action isn’t always easy, especially when it goes against the tone of the book up to that point, but this action was fast paced, heart pounding and seamless and I look forward to more of it in future books in the series.

The end of the book had a helpful phonic section (and a beautiful illustration!) as quite a few of the words appear to have a nod to its Scandanavian origins, I have to say I found this a little frustrating as I found I had been pretty much mispronouncing all of them in my mind as I read, it would have been helpful to have this at the front as none of the words could be considered spoilers.

I really enjoyed Between the Sea and Stars and look forward to future books in the series! 4*

Between the Sea and Stars is released on the 19th June and is available through Amazon via Paliament House and is currently available to pre-order by clicking here

 

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