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by Sherri L. Swift
A small, isolated island community. A father trying to keep his motherless daughter close to him. A lonely adolescent affecting goth-like attire to conceal the fact that she looks “different”. This is the world of Lana Prentis on Safe Harbor Island.
Sheri L. Swift has created an engaging story of a teen-aged girl’s journey from being a social outcast to discovering her family heritage, love, marriage and life in the sea. Lana has always been “different”. Her father is a land-dweller and her mother, a mermaid who was killed in a tragic greed-fueled episode in the south Pacific. Lana’s grieving father attempts to keep his daughter out of the sea and away from water so he will not lose her as well. However, Lana’s destiny is beneath the ocean waves. Through all of this, Lana discovers that she and her father have more in common than she ever imagined and she strives not to lose touch with her land-based family while living and raising her children in the sea.
There is an irony in all of this. Lana is “different” on land and different amongst her mother’s people as well. She is a “Merwalker”; a person of both human and Mer ancestry who can live underwater but has legs instead of the usual tail. In this story, there are only two such hybrids to be found: Herself and her niece. Although Lana is more than accepted by the Mer and deeply loved by her husband, the reader wonders if she might not secretly long to be like the rest of them in every way.
Unfortunately, Sheri Swift’s story falls a bit short in its execution. The dialogue is somewhat stilted and awkward in places. While this may help create as sense of “Other-ness” for the Mer characters, it is a detriment to the human characters. The book is classified as Young Adult Fiction but the writing style and the dialogue make it seem that this book was written with a more younger, female audience in mind.
In reading Young Adult Fiction, I am always on the look-out for “teachable-moments”: those plot-points that can be used to convey or reinforce ideals and lessons to the target audience. There is no more basic thing to convey than the correct rules of English usage. Sheri’s story – at least in the Kindle edition – contains sins beyond the usual typos. There are mis-used words, incorrect syntax, grammatical errors, and poor sentence structure; all which lead this reviewer to wonder if proof readers have gone the way of the dodo.
Despite these problems, the author has created a wonderful and enjoyable book which is well worth reading.
Sheri Swift is currently engaged in developing a sequel to Legend of the Mer. It is this reviewer’s hope that Ms Swift will continue to exercise her wonderful ability at story-telling while striving to eliminate the grammatical and stylistic shortcomings of the first book.