Neither vicious nor deep, the novel is mildly entertaining and will likely appeal most to dedicated mer-fans.

THE VICIOUS DEEP

From the Vicious Deep series , Vol. 1

Another mermaid book joins the flood.

Tristan Hart “was born at sea.” It’s no wonder he is the star of the high-school swim team and a Coney Island lifeguard. But while Tristan always prided himself on swimming like a fish, he never imagined he’d become one. When a rescue attempt in stormy seas nearly robs Tristan of his life and leaves him with some unexpected physical side effects, the truth shakes Tristan to the very last scale of his newly sprouted fishtail. Son of a human father and a mother whose distress over their son’s transformation never feels truly genuine, Tristan discovers he is heir to the Sea King’s throne and must compete in a tournament to lay claim to the kingdom. With his best friend and secret love, Layla, and his mer-guardians, Kurt and Thalia, by his side, Tristan battles creatures from the deep on land, at sea and in his own mind. Herein lies one of the novel's greatest problems. Despite the alluring title, the creatures in this story, with the exception of one particularly scary excommunicated mermaid, simply aren’t that vicious. In fact, their descriptions—like the small, round half-man, half–blow fish—seem more suited to one of the original Star Wars movies than contemporary teen fiction.

Neither vicious nor deep, the novel is mildly entertaining and will likely appeal most to dedicated mer-fans. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4022-6510-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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A thoughtful selection of exquisite literary amuse-bouches; it will take a little work to connect teens with it, though.

RAGS & BONES

NEW TWISTS ON TIMELESS TALES

Twelve popular speculative fiction authors riff on classic literature, but for an ill-defined audience.

Inspired by sources as old as Edmund Spenser and as recent as William Seabrook, from authors entrenched in the literary canon and those considerably more obscure, this collection is an eclectic mix of sequels, retellings, homages, pastiches and even responses with only tenuous connections to the originals. While the tone varies from witty to poignant, from lush and sensual to dry and didactic, the stories share a darkly fantastic sensibility, often with a horrific undercurrent. Though told mostly from a male—and usually adult—perspective, they also exhibit a common concern with the limited choices available to women and minorities in patriarchal, Eurocentric cultures. Standouts include Neil Gaiman’s clever, biting crossover between “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White”; Holly Black’s reshaping of the lesbian subtext in Carmilla into the intense friendship of pre-adolescent girls; co-editor Marr’s savage and heart-rending updating of selkie legends; and Saladin Ahmed’s impassioned defense of the nameless Other so often caricatured as a fantasy villain. It seems likely that adults will be the most appreciative audience, as few teens will be familiar enough with the originals to catch the subtle resonances, and most of the themes and language are as mature as the characters.

A thoughtful selection of exquisite literary amuse-bouches; it will take a little work to connect teens with it, though. (finished illustrations not seen) (Fantasy/short stories. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-21294-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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THE SHADOW MOTHER

The traditional selkie story plays out in an arc of unrequited love and abandonment in this moody iteration.

Writing in terse prose cast into short lines, Virgo begins the story with the sailor going to sea as a boy but halfway through suddenly shifts point of view to that of the dreamy child born to the silent couple years later. The author shows similar indecision in describing the selkie’s garment. It is a “shadow” when the sailor steals it and a “roll of white skin” when the boy (rather than, as is more common, his mother) at last takes it down to the sea one night and swims “out under the old / moon’s path on the waters, leaving / his memories behind.” As if the sailor’s immoral act and the ensuing picture of failed domestic life in the narrative isn’t sad and remote enough, Pérez adds a full suite of subtly tinted sketches that depict either small, slumped figures in lonely landscapes or claustrophobic assemblages of floating bodies or heads, detached hands and surreal fish with human faces. As the lead victim, the selkie woman is most likely to draw sympathy from readers, but she is the least developed of the three central figures. Not much here for children, but the portentous atmosphere may prompt readers of the inked and pierced set to overlook the story’s overall lack of clarity or cohesion. (Folk tale. 14-18)

 

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-88899-971-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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