Book Reviews

Bubble Talk: Jaclyn Dolamore & Between the Sea and Sky

Bubble Talk is where I interview some truly amazing authors and tell you all about their books! November is all about those elusive creatures of the sea, mermaids, and I’m so happy to be able to introduce you to ten talented authors and their stories.

Today, Jaclyn Dolamore stops by to tell us about her mermaid/Fandarsee (winged creature) novel, Between the Sea and Sky. My review of the book is below!

Angel: What kind of research did you have to do before writing your book?

Jackie: Lots of bits and pieces. The setting is based on Italy around 1800, so I read a lot of travel narratives from late 18th and early 19th century travelers to Rome and whatnot. Lots of griping about inns, some of which went into the book. One of the hardest things to figure out was how fast Alan would be able to fly. Obviously there are not any real winged people so I had to read a bunch of stuff about large birds, how flight works, and hang gliders, and cobble something together with the excuse that if I got it wrong, their flight is partly magical!

Angel: Why do you think humans are fascinated by mermaids/sirens/selkies and tales of the sea?

Jackie: The sea is almost as mysterious as space, but it’s a part of our own planet, and most of us have dipped our toes in it at some point, so I think it’s natural to wonder what it’s like far beneath the surface. Mermaids can bridge the gap between this realm and our own, so naturally that is intriguing.

AngelWhat are your favourite sea-themed stories or legends? Did any of them influence your own book?

Jackie: The Little Mermaid is an obvious influence (both the original and the Disney version) as well as the many stories in the British Isles about mermaids who carry an enchanted object that a man can steal to make the mermaid his bride. I had to put a lot of thought into how the mermaids end up being bound to this magical object in the first place, and why.

Angel: How does your novel stand out from other mermaid/siren/selkie-themed books?

Jackie: Well, it’s just as much a book about winged people as it is about mermaids, so there’s that!

Angel: If you were a mermaid, which ocean would you want to live in?

Jackie: A clean, warm, pretty one. I’m no expect on oceans but I think I’ve read that there are still some very nice spots around Australia.

Angel: Ariel (of Disney’s The Little Mermaid) is the most famous mermaid of my generation. What would you tell her if you had the chance?

Jackie: Hold out for a hotter prince than Eric? Pink isn’t your color? But really, who am I to boss Ariel around.

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren–the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city.

There she comes upon a friend she hasn’t seen since childhood–a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship…and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.

+     World-building. The world that Jaclyn Dolamore creates in this novel is, bar-none, one of the most gorgeous settings I’ve read about in the last few years. It is a kind of scrappy beauty that permeates Esmerine’s life, and I couldn’t help but be awestruck at the sheer differences between our world and hers. I loved that mermaids co-existed with humans who co-existed with winged creatures. I loved the inevitable conflicts and the medieval feel to the book. Between the Sea and Sky inspired a sense of wonder in me up to the the very last page.

+     Romance. There has always been something inherently romantic about the idea of mermaids to me. Many stories about mermaids focus on what they can’t have–relationships with humans–and what they have to give up to get it. And while I truly adore those stories of forbidden/sacrificial love, it’s also lovely to have a story where things can work out for the best. Esmerine and Alandare are quite obviously meant for each other, but their love story doesn’t feel contrived. In fact, I would say that they are at their best when they’re with each other, which is ideal for any relationship.

–      Point-of-view. I enjoyed reading this novel, but there were times that I had to work a little to make myself continue reading. My main issue was the point-of-view and the distance it creates between the reader and Esmerine. For the first few chapters, I felt like there was a glass wall between us: I could see what she was doing, and even understand why, but it didn’t really affect me. I genuinely like her as a character, however, and I wish that had been more obvious from the start.

Recommendations: Definitely check this book out for the beautiful setting and romance, because it’s worth the somewhat-slow first few chapters.

Rating: Very good.

Go visit Jackie Dolamore at her website and follow her on Twitter @jackiedolamore.

You can check out Between the Sea and Sky on Goodreads and order it over at Amazon and Book Depository.

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