294p. Clarion. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-92772-5. LC 2012022415.
Gr 8 Up—Contemporary issues merge with Irish lore in this richly detailed, lyrical fantasy set off the coast of New England. The narrative, which revolves around mythic creatures called selkies, starts slowly but quickly gains momentum. Eighteen-year-old Noah Gallagher spends his summer with his grandmother and his bulimic sister, Lo, while working as a biology intern for a highly respected scientist. He falls in love with Mara, whom he learns is a selkie. Mara's Elder, Maebh, enjoys a long-standing relationship with his grandmother, and as such Gemm is aware of the selkie pod's secrets long before her grandchildren. Mara's younger sister was kidnapped five years earlier. Now her younger brother has been taken, and Noah is determined to help rescue them. Character development is complex, and the story builds suspense as Noah discovers the horrifying purpose of the abductions. Atmospheric details enhance the quality of the book. Subtle themes of turning weakness into strength are threaded throughout the story and ultimately create a nuanced debut novel. The book jacket mirrors Cornwell's visual imagery. An insightful and compelling work.—Magdaline Henderson-Diman, formerly at Bass Harbor Memorial Library, Bernard, ME

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