Beyond the Sea

Beyond the Sea

 by Emily Goodwin

No doubt, it has become a maxim amongst those who follow my reviews of Mer-fiction that if I write a review, I am going to naturally say that it’s a great book. In reality, I only write reviews for books that I believe are really good/great/fantastic. Therefore, in the lines below, is my review of a Young Adult bit of Mer-fiction that I found to be really good and enjoyed immensely. As an added bonus, there is the cover art at the left. It is one of the very few depictions of a mermaid – or merman – perched on a rock that is reasonably close enough to the water’s surface that the mer-person can climb on to it without much of a struggle. Think of it; the usual illustration of  a mermaid – or merman – depicts them ensconced upon a rock that is at least five or six feet above the water. While this may be done to simply show off the artist’s lovely depiction of a mer-tail, the whole scene beggars belief. Since the mer-person is “en-tailed”, just how do they get up there? Levitate?

But enough talk about art; let’s talk about the story itself. It is natural for the new girl in school to feel like a fish out of water but in Melia’s case it is literally true. Melia is a M – the Celtic equivalent of a mermaid. Actually, Melia is only a Merrow on her father’s side; her mother is a Oceanid or water nymph. In the world that Ms Goodwin has created for us, Merrows are tied to the sea. In other words, they can’t simply swap their fins for a pair of legs and go for a stroll on the beach. Oceanids, however, can live on land as well as in the sea and since she is the product of a mixed marriage, Melia can come and go as she pleases.

Right now, Melia is spending most of her time on dry land since the murder of her sister by parties unknown. Her step-father is human and is also extremely well off. Her mother spends most of her time at his side in New York City. Melia has tried living there but the water quality is wretched  and who can blame her for wanting to stay on the left coast. There she sits; the sole occupant of a grand house overlooking the sea with only the cook cum body-guard for company. Her only friends are a nerdy girl named Jamie Foster – who is able to see into the spirit world – and Peter Anderson – football player and overall handsome dude – who, having recently ditched his girl due to a question of infidelity, is a free agent; or at least until he becomes involved with Melia.

Peter took Melia’s hands in his. The Friday morning sun sparkled in her eyes. She looked fantastic again today in another short dress. If she didn’t look so good in dresses (and if they weren’t as short as they were) Peter would think it odd that she always wore them. He liked that she rarely wore make up and her hair was almost always down.

Jamie was enlisted by Melia to divine the culprit in her sister’s murder. While Melia reveals her true self to Jamie early in the story, it won’t be until much, much later that Peter will find out and only after the two of them have become seriously involved. Jamie is quite accepting of what Melia is. Peter is a different story.

Melia is a child of the Pacific Ocean and not everything appears to be quite well there. Sightings of strange creatures become the norm. Melia tries to pay a visit to the mer-folk back home and discovers that not only has their undersea settlement has been abandoned but it appears that everyone has left in a hurry. Melia tries to keep a lid on all of this so as not to alarm Jamie and keep Peter thinking that she is a slightly odd but quite attractive person. This is her first real relationship and she so does not want it to end. That becomes harder and harder as strange creatures appear on the shore and on land. Melia does her best to protect those she cares about but her best may not be enough.

Emily Goodwin has done an outstanding job of weaving various aquatic mythologies together in order to build the world that Melia – and, increasingly, Jamie and Peter – inhabits. Melia lives at the interface between the world of humans and the world of her birth  and the conflict she feels between wanting to go “home” and wanting to be with her human friends is quite palpable. Of the three main characters, Peter is the most normal. No paranormal powers or fins for him. Yet he becomes quite real because of the burden he bears; the unwanted child of religious parents who somehow see him as a reminder of and punishment for their pre-marital dalliance. Peter is marginalised as his parents focus their attention on his younger brother and sister and while Peter’s parents may feel that they are doing what is best for their oldest son, they are, in reality, pushing him further and further away.

In that way, Peter and Melia share a common condition. Both are outcasts from the worlds of their birth. Peter wants to escape his world by going off to college but he increasingly feels the tug of his life with Melia slowing his steps. Melia would love to be able to re-enter the sea and leave the alien world of life on land behind but the pull of those she loves  above the waves keeps her where she is. It is this unconscious sense of commonality, as well as their love for each other, that binds them together.

If there is one theme that stands out in this story, it is that of loving someone for whom they are and not what they are. Humans are not exactly the favourites of the denizens of the deep but Melia most certainly loves the ones she has come to know closely. Peter’s acceptance of Melia for what she is  turns out to be a bit rough at first but Peter comes to realise that she is the person he loves and – above all else – wants to protect and be with. This mutual love and acceptance can be contrasted with the relationship between Peter and his parents. They fail to love him for who he is – their first-born child – and only see him as what he is; the reason that they had to marry.

Jamie is accepted and cared for by two of the most attractive people at school, not simply because of her paranormal abilities but because she is a brave and loyal person rather than just some nerdy kid. It is because of the acceptance and encouragement coming from both Melia and Peter that Jamie starts to come out of her shell and claim her place in the world as a person of value and worthiness. It is through Ms Goodwin’s careful crafting that Beyond the Sea goes well beyond the province of simply being a Young Adult paranormal tale and becomes a story with a deeper meaning.

“It’s a shame,” Peter whispered, sitting on the bed.

“What is?” Melia asked as she sat on his lap.

“That no one on land will know how truly brave and amazing you are.”

“You know. That’s enough for me.”

While this is not the first Young Adult novel that Emily Goodwin has authored, she can be justly proud of her accomplishments in conceiving the story, bringing the characters to life and gifting the reader an exciting plot with a deeper meaning below its surface. In its own way, Beyond the Sea is as memorable as its namesake song by Bobby Darin. This story stays with the reader long after the last sentence is read.

The second book in the Beyond the Sea series, Red Skies at Night, is due for release later in 2013. If the quality of the first book is any indication, the second book will be a “must read” for fans of this particular genre.

My Rating:   Emily Goodwin’s blog may be found at

[boxify cols_use =”4″ cols =”8″ position =”none” box_spacing = “auto” padding =”10 15 13 27″ background_color =”aliceblue” background_opacity =”80″ border_width =”2″ border_color =”blue” border_radius =”10″ height = “270”]

Paperback Kindle


Read a sample of Beyond the Sea

[embed_kindle asin=”B007PWG0IM”]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This Month’s Rants
May 2021
« Dec    
Pipe Count

Dr. Data's Pipe Count

480 (+/-)

Dr. Data has PAD - Pipe Acquisition Disorder

Professional Reader
Subscribe to my Rants

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 222 other subscribers