In this debut, a contemporary teen arrives at New Hampshire’s Isles of Shoals for a coveted summer internship and discovers the liminal boundary between fantasy and reality.
Eager to begin his dream internship at the Marine Science Research Center on Appledore Island, Noah and his sister, Lo, are staying with their grandmother, Gemm, who lives on nearby White Island. Noah and Lo quickly realize Gemm and her friend Maebh are partners, while Gemm learns Lo is bulimic. Meanwhile, Noah meets an intriguing young woman named Mara, who spends a lot of time in the ocean. Attracted to each other, Noah and Mara tentatively become friends, which proves challenging after Mara reveals she and Maebh are selkies, living most of their lives as seals but with the ability to remove their skins and appear as humans. When a young selkie vanishes, Noah suspects the Research Center’s director may be involved and risks his life trying to uncover the shocking truth. In addition to her sensitive portrayal of Gemm and Maebh’s lifelong relationship and Noah and Mara’s emerging romance, Cornwell successfully incorporates themes of same-sex relationships, eating disorders and ruthless scientific research into her novel.
A haunting, atmospheric, intergenerational tale of the “inbetween,” suffused with selkie lore. (Fantasy. 12 & up)