cover image The Oyster Thief

The Oyster Thief

Sonia Faruqi. Pegasus, $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-68177-791-7

Faruqi, author of the factory farming exposé Project Animal Farm, takes to a fairy tale format to urge human empathy with ocean life, creating an ecologically informed but whimsically imagined underwater culture as the setting for her magical, if rather cynical, mermaid-human love story. Apprentice mermaid apothecary Coralline is uninspired by her immanent, upwardly mobile wedding. After an oil spill makes her little brother ill, she embarks on a quest for an elixir that could heal him. Coralline and her anxious animal friends rescue human Izar, who has been tossed into the ocean by his enemies and transformed into a merman. Izar shares an important clue to aid their search, but keeps secret his identity as heir to the mining corporation Ocean Dominion and inventor of an underwater fire device that’s poised to destroy all mermaid life. Coralline and Izar’s bonding leads them to question their respective commitments. Adult fans of movies such as The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo will find Coralline’s adventures delightful, and Faruqi’s caricatured villains are satisfyingly hateful, but romance fans will be disappointed that Izar and Coralline’s personal connection lacks fire. This parable is more endearing than enduring. (Oct.)