Summary: Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nelson is a wonderful fairy tale with just the right mix of mystery, hardship, and tough choices. Even though it is set on the middle ages, the characters are easy to relate to, from their personalities to their dreams and despairs.
Adrianne Keynnman’s family once enjoyed a comfortable life on Windwaithe Island, where her father was the Master of Horses for Lord Durran, who rules over the island. But an accident took him away and the family lost everything – a loss that Adrianne takes the blame for. Now Adrianne, along with her mother, her sister, Cecily, and her Auntie Minnah, live in a small shack where the women do mending for the islanders to make a meager living. Adrianne does what she can to help her family, but nothing she does ever seems to please her aunt, who greatly favors Cecily, and the girls' mother shows little courage, allowing Auntie Minnah to run the home.
When Adrianne saves Cecily from the Windwaithe mermaid, a creature Adrianne had thought to be a legend, life begins to take unexpected turns. The mermaid marks Adrianne and her days and nights are filled with the haunting sounds of the mermaid calling to her.
When the other islanders discover that the mermaid has marked Adrianne, it becomes dangerous for anyone who chooses to protect her. Should Adrianne just give herself up to the mermaid to save her island? Or is there more going on than anyone truly knows?
One of my favorite aspects of this story was the romance between Adrianne and Denn, the boy who has been her friend since childhood. Adrianne loves him dearly but doesn’t feel that she is good enough to catch his eye compared to the prettier and wealthier girls of the island. Her interactions with Denn and his younger siblings (who adore her) make for some great moments that anyone who has ever experienced a crush on someone they feel they can’t have will understand.
11 and up
Areas of concern (content):
Foul Language: none
Nudity/Adult Content: none
Violence: very mild