cover image Forbidden Sea

Forbidden Sea

Sheila A. Nielsen, Scholastic Press, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-545-09734-5

"Dirt, rags, and shabby short hair—it seemed it would always be that way for me." Fourteen-year old Adrianne Keynn-man has suffered on her island home since her father's death two years ago, the family's savings long since depleted. But scant meals, backbreaking work, and even the oppressive presence of her cruel aunt pale in comparison to the eerie call of the Windwaithe Mermaid, a legend that becomes terrifyingly real the night Adrianne's nine-year-old sister, Cecily, runs away and is nearly taken by the beautiful, malevolent creature. While rescuing Cecily, Adrianne is marked by the mermaid, a visible curse that causes the islanders to gradually turn against her. Only Denn, son of the fleet captain, stands by her—and Denn doesn't believe in mermaids. In framing Adrianne's stark choices, debut novelist Nielsen weaves together fairy tale elements with a strong first-person narrative voice. Reliance on certain stereotypes, like the cowardly bully and the malicious pretty girl, weakens the emotional impact of some events, but Adrianne stands out as a realistic and courageous heroine. Ages 10–up. (July)