July’s books from Hot Key books arrived in the post on Saturday morning, and I was super excited, since I had to go answer the door to the postman. I was lucky enough to get an uncorrected proof of Lorali which is signed by the author in really cool purple marker, but I forgot to take a picture of it.
The only regret I have about this is the fact that I missed out on the (amazing) cover art of Lorali, which is a vision of sweeping, rolling blues and greens, evoking the sea and scales which play such a prominent part in this mermaid tail (heh heh heh).
Colourful, raw, brave, rich and fantastical – this mermaid tale is not for the faint-hearted.
Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn’t exactly how Rory had imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from.
Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and become human.
But along with Lorali’s arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory’s bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp-collared shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a Tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong, anyway?
This book was beautifully written, really evocative, really unusual. A host of engaging characters, from three disillusioned teenage boys to a crew of, quite frankly, fabulous, pirates, a mermaid princess, and even the sea herself, added depth and variety to a twist on a mermaid story which was beautifully realised.
Lots of things about this book really grabbed me, and I finished it within two days – the unusual characterisation was beautiful, the Mer society was developed and well-realised, while still remaining mystical and alluring, and the characterisation was, for the most part, really enjoyable.
There were a lot of threads in this story – Rory, Lorali, the Mer people, two crews of pirates, Opal’s story – and I felt like at times there was a little too much going on, and too little time given to development. I really felt like the Cetus and the cavities could’ve been more fleshed out.
But there were lots of things I really liked about this book! None of the characters were special snowflakes who could instantly do everything required of them – they were human (or, you know, not…) and real and fallible and they had thei difficulties and they made mistakes and they made impulsive, stupid, cruel, decisions, and it all felt like these were real people who could do real things, and I loved that!
The sea, as a narrator, was a really interesting take on the omniscient perspective, and the way it switched between that and individual perspectives was, I thought, really effective in giving both an overview, and the personal insight which comes with the first-person narrative.
Lots of the writing style was really beautiful, evocative, and effective. I had one major quibble, though, which was that I hated how Lorali descended into short, punchy sentences all the time. As I read the prologue (or it might’ve been the opening chapter), I found myself thinking ‘God, I hope it doesn’t carry on like this for long, I couldn’t stand reading a whole book of this!’ but thankfully, it really only resurfaced when Lorali was under stress. And I can see how it works as a narrative tool, but it wasn’t one which endeared me at all.
While I appreciated the ending of the book, especially the epilogue and the resolution, I felt like it was a little too rushed, and I would’ve liked to have seen a few more things resolved properly. Actually, only one thing, really.
The rest of it, though, I was delighted with. Gorgeous story, wonderful characters, inevitable, beautiful resolution. A few things in the book which rankled with me, but certainly matters of personal preference.
If mermaids are your secret passion, Lorali is certainly the book for you. And if they’re not, as they’re not for me, then it could still be a beautiful little beach read, which might just make you want to walk into the sea and see if you can find the Whirl for yourself…