Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 240
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page


From Goodreads:

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.


I'm a mythological racist

I realized something about myself when reading Between the Sea and Sky: I totally stereotype mythological creatures. And I don't really like it when their books deviate too much from my preconceptions.

When it comes to mermaid books, I expect and want them to be light frothy fun with a sweet romance and an "easy read" plot. Luckily, Between the Sea and Sky perfectly fit my mermaid stereotypes and gave me exactly what I wanted.


Esmerine is my perfect mermaid. She's super sweet and a little naive. She has an almost childlike openness and I couldn't help but love her.

Will we be sleepover best friends? Eh, I don't think I got to know her well enough for that, but I would totally invite her to my book club (she's a reader! I love characters who love books.)

And, ok, we would also gush about her romance with Alan. Even though they met when they were kids, they hadn't seen each other for years and their reunion was kinda rocky. I could sympathize with the one-step-forward-two-steps-back progression of their relationship. No insta love or messy love triangles here!


Ugh, what a jerk. He had such a pole up his butt.

Wait! Don't run away yet! He's supposed to be jerky in the beginning, but I promise he gets a LOT better.

Still, even though he turns into a stand up guy, I spent a good part of the book thinking Esmerine could do SO much better that it was sort of hard to love him. I like him though and I think he and Esmerine make a cute couple. She'll mellow him out and I can see him doting on her and being all sweetly protective of her.

A message worthy of Disney

The big message here is following your heart, and every character struggles with the expectations of others versus their own desires. Can you really go wrong with such a heartwarming message? That kind of Disney-sweet message pretty much gets me every time, and Between the Sea and Sky was no exception.

I could also relate to the characters' feelings of not quite belonging. Many of the characters march to the beat of a different drummer, and I liked how Jaclyn Dolamore emphasized that it is okay to be different.

Wait, is this historical fantasy??

Um, not so much (unless you're a real Anything Goes-er). So why are we including it? Well, Jaclyn Dolamore's other series IS historical fantasy (as far as our definition is concerned) and this is her latest book so we thought we'd give our support. Afterall, our goal is much more about highlighting good books than it is about being strict with categories.

Bottom line

Cute, simple, sweet. It didn't blow my mind and I doubt I'll remember the details for very long, but I'd happily read it again sometime.

This is not an action-packed story, so don't expect a whole lot of plot depth or excitement. But there IS a good, simple plotline that works and sets a nice frame for the characters to move around in. The pacing is moderate and steady and the third-person narrative voice reminded me of a fairy tale (distant, but nice). 

Good for YA/adult audiences looking for something in the lighter fairy tale vein, but probably appropriate for MG readers as well.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Between the Sea and Sky that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

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  1. Well I was intrigued by this book's cover but honestly I'm not really into sirens so while I like the sound of light fairy-tale vibe, I'm not sure this is the book for me. Thanks for the review so I could make up my mind!

  2. I really liked Magic Under Glass and am eagerly awaiting Magic Under Stone. Between the Sea and the Sky sounds cute, but from the reviews, I'm getting the impression that it's not a must-read.

    I have to disagree with you a little about mermaid stories needing to be light and frothy. Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid is the most famous after all and her story is not light. Or it wasn't before Disney got its hands on her, anyway!

  3. ooh, but really want it still

  4. I'm still not quite sold on this one. I'm going to put it on my maybe list. I love reading your reviews, Small. There's so entertaining and informative!

  5. This sounds very cute. I've read a few mermaid books that were very dark and I much prefer the light and fluffy ones - like Forgive My Fins. I'll be checking this one out.

  6. I really like the sound of this one! I so enjoy a good, sweet, Disney-esque type story, and I haven't read many mermaid books so I think I need to make time for this one:) Loved your review, you're always so entertaining!

  7. This sounds cute and like something I would really, really like, even if it's not a blow your mind read.


    I think I'm a bit into stereotypical mythical creatures, too! *lol*

    Anyway, thanks for the review.

  8. I keep seeing reviews about the lightness of this one and how it's got more of an MG than a YA tone so I'll probably recommend it to my cousin. I still haven't read a mermaid book yet but The Little Mermaid is my favourite Disney movie :)

  9. Oh Good! I'm looking forward to reading this one! I don't know if I have it. I think I do. I'll have to check the bookshelf. I think I need to file books by the author's last name so I can keep track! yes, this is how bad it is! Thanks to your reviews and a few others. But yours especially!


  10. Bookworm1858, The cover is really beautiful. She isn't a siren in the "mean seductress" kind of way, if that helps.

    TG, I'm looking forward to Magic Under Stone too! I wouldn't say Between the Sea and Sky was a must read, but I did think it was a nice read. You're so right about the Andersen version! I prefer the Disney version :P

    Roro, I hope you like it!

    Rummanah, It's so short that I think if you have any interest in reading it and can get it from a library, then why not? Thank you for your sweet words! :D

    Alison, Yup, me too. Forgive My Fins is my type of mermaid book. I hope you like Between the Sea and Sky.

    Jenny, This is a good mermaid book to start with. Thank you for your sweet comment!

    Alex, Yup, I can see you liking it. :D (Good, we can stereotype them together!)

    A Canadian Girl, Yeah, I can see a MG reader liking this one. You might like this if you like The Little Mermaid :)

    Heather, Haha, I understand that! I've bought books before that I didn't even remember I already owned because I have them stashed everywhere.

  11. See, I knew I had to read a review from a reader who could appreciate a good mermaid story. Now I'm even more sure of my decision to read it.

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

  12. I've been really excited for this one for a long time! Glad that you liked it, even if it wasn't the best ever.

  13. Ahhhh, you racist. ^.~ Me, I love books that deviate, especially with mermaids. There are so many out there!! I adored this book so much and the "fairy tale-esque" aspect of it.

  14. Ha ha! Mythological racist, that was very amusing! Light and frothy is good but if they're mean and the story's great, I'm fine with that too.

    It seems like we're going to be swamped with mermaid/siren, etc. books soon. Have you read any others? If so, how does this compare?


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