by Marcus Rowe

Mermaid Memoirs is one of those rare gems that you stumble upon accidentally. In my case, I was on goodreads.com updating my progress with the book I was reading at that time when an ad for a  hitherto unknown book showed up on the page. I followed the link to amazon.co.uk – it’s where I go to buy printed British books as I hate the Americanised versions – and then had to go back to amazon.com because when you buy a Kindle version, it has to be from the Amazon site for your country. With that bit sorted, I made my purchase and set about reading.

Mermaid Memoirs tells a poignant and often heart-breaking story of love and rejection. Jude and Sara had been married for almost six years when he brings up the idea of starting their family. Sara is not quite as keen as Jude but, in the end, she agrees to start trying. There follows a series of three pregnancies – all of which miscarry – and each one is of  a shorter duration than the one before it. At that point trying to start a family comes off the table.

On the evening of their 6th wedding anniversary, the couple are swept up in the romance of their celebration and sleep together without a thought  for the potential consequences. As luck would have it, Sara falls pregnant and this time it sticks. A routine prenatal scan turns up the possibility that the bones of the foetus may not be developing as they should and the spectre of a deformity is raised.  After a bit of agonising, Sara settles on continuing the pregnancy.

The following months are not easy on Sara and neither is her labour. Jude is the first to see his newborn daughter and discovers that she has a single deformed leg. It’s a bitter pill but he loves her just the same. Sara, however, is another matter. She immediately rejects the child, refusing to name it as she wants to place the baby for adoption as soon as possible.  Jude names the child Macy and by the time Sara ends her stay in hospital, she has somewhat grudgingly accepted motherhood.

Jude is more a mother to Macy than Sara is and loves her unconditionally. After a number of years, Sara cannot cope with Macy being almost the sole focus of Jude’s life and walks out on their marriage. In hopes of containing home schooling and baby sitting costs, Jude decides to enroll her in a nearby school. This only lasts a number of months before Jude withdraws Macy because of the bullying she has to endure on a daily basis due to her deformity. As a result, Macy spends the rest of her academic career studying from home.

On a Saturday’s outing to the sea, Macy places her deformed leg in the water to see what it feels like and discovers that the leg has been replaced by a mermaid’s tail. On subsequent seaside outings with her father, the two are observed by a merman who informs Jude that her place is really with the inhabitants of an underwater village and not on land. The caveat is that she can never return as the mer-folk are afraid of humans and worry that she might betray the location of their village.

Jude agrees that it probably is for the best and reluctantly sends Macy to live with her own kind. She loves the new-found freedom of movement but soon runs afoul of her new neighbours as they taunt and bully Macy because she once lived with humans. Macy has now experienced rejection both on land and sea as she finds that the mer-folk are just as bad as the humans they hate and fear.

Mermaid Memoirs is a wonderful story though like a diamond in the rough, it wants a bit of polishing. There are some dropped letters and words which the reader may be inclined to overlook as this book is self-published by Mr. Rowe. The only really annoying bit is that he repeatedly uses the collective noun, mermaids, to refer to the villagers – both female and male. The mermen may simply take this gender reassignment as a compliment but at times it can be confusing to the reader.

This book is definitely YA-friendly though young American readers should be aware that since Mr. Rowe is British, he naturally uses words, grammar, idioms and colloquialisms more often found on the east side of the pond which the inexperienced may find a bit off-putting.

There are a number of plot-threads left hanging at the end of Mermaid Memoirs but readers need not be alarmed. Marcus Rowe plans to publish a sequel in October of this year. Mermaid Memoirs is only available as an e-book at Amazon.com.

My Rating:

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Kindle – US Kindle – UK

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Read a sample of Mermaid Memoirs

[embed_kindle asin=”B0087I1ZYM”]

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