Saturday, November 3, 2012

Book Review: The Mermaid Collector

Author: Erika Marks
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: NAL Trade

More than a century ago, lighthouse keeper Linus Harris left his beloved wife and waded into the ocean with three other men to reunite with their mermaid lovers. The mysterious Mermaid Mutiny of 1888 has become legend for the residents of Cradle Harbor, Maine, honored by the town’s Mermaid Festival every August, when wind chimes are hung from seaside porches to drown out the alluring sound of mermaid song.

For thirty-five-year-old Tess Patterson, the legend is more than folklore; it’s proof of life’s magic. A hopeless romantic who is profoundly connected to the ocean in which she lost her mother, Tess ekes out a living as a wood-carver and longs to find a love as mystical as the sea. But when she’s hired to carve the commemorative mermaid sculpture for the coming festival, a chance to win the town’s elusive acceptance might finally be in her grasp.

For Tom Grace, life’s magic was lost at eighteen, when the death of his parents left him to care for his reckless brother, Dean. Now thirty-five and the new owner of Cradle Harbor’s prized lightkeeper’s house, Tom hopes the quiet town will calm Dean’s self-destructive ways. But when Tom discovers Tess working on her sculpture, an unlikely and passionate affair ignites between them that just might be the stuff of legend itself—even as it brings to the surface a long-buried secret that could tear everything apart.

“But that was the thing about life on the water: Tides went out and, eventually, they came back in.” – Finished Copy pg. 19

“The keeper would have trudged through that barren stretch of grass twice a day, sometimes more, the wind, or maybe snow, needling his skin. Tom had read of lighthouse keepers as a boy after visiting a tower on the banks of Lake Michigan. He’d been awed at the great weight of responsibility they undertook, their mission as both tenders and rescuers, seeing nature at her most treacherous and trying to intercede-and always under the sweep of that lamp.” – Finished Copy pg. 37-38

“The previous keeper left quite a few things upstairs. Papers and books and such. Most of it was dreadfully boring, but I did find the most amusing book: The Seafarer’s Wife’s Handbook, it was titled. You can’t imagine it. It even contained instruction on how to hang chimes to quiet mermaid song, which is apparently very dangerous to susceptible men’s ears. Have you ever heard of such a thing?” – Finished Copy pg. 54

I have found such a treasure in a new author and her amazing work of literature! Not to mention she is a local author as well. I cannot convey my enthusiasm about this book, but I am going to try as I put my thoughts into this book review. This book was full of history, love, and even a tad bit of mystery. I enjoyed every single aspect about this book and am so hungry for more. I am going to encourage readers now to go and pick up a copy of this book because I cannot wait until I get to the end of this review to do so!

Erika Marks is highly talented as a writer and I say this because she did something successfully that I am usually not a fan of in any book. She paralleled two stories that happened in two completely different time periods and had several different main characters. She did this flawlessly! In one story readers are given present day Cradle Harbor, Maine, and in another story readers are given a story from 1887 that explains the legend of the Mermaid Mutiny and the lives of Linus and Lydia Harris. Essentially we are given two amazing love stories for the price of one! Erika, you are an absolute literary genius!

Linus and Lydia Harris was the young couple that were lighthouse keepers in Cradle Harbor, Maine in 1887 and there story is not one to be missed. The mystery/ghost story that I referred to comes from these two. Their story is raw and emotional and yes, highly eerie, so much that it gave me chills. I loved Lydia and her devotion to her husband even though she had a strong dislike for the sea. She had to love him, right? I loved Lydia’s character the most and I was so drawn to her story. Erika weaves in a beautiful piece of history by including the lives of Linus and Lydia. The story of Cradle Harbor, Maine and the Mermaid Mutiny wouldn’t be the same without them.

Tess Patterson is our heroine in the present day and she also has a strong pull to the lighthouse and the town of Cradle Harbor. I found myself constantly comparing her to Lydia, which I thought to be a good thing. Both Lydia and Tess are and were hopeless romantics just trying to hang on to a love that was destined to go out with the tide. I loved Tess’ artistic and creative side and I especially loved reading about her career as a wood-carver. That type of art just fascinates me. Tess’ story is equally as brilliant as Lydia’s because of the fact that Tess has somewhat of a quarrel with the sea as well. The sea took Tess’ mom, Ruby, years before and she has never quite gotten over it. So many elements made Tess up to be a very relatable and passionate figure.

Can we just talk about the sea? I would love to visit Maine, seeing as I have never been North of New York City. I find the calm, majestic scenes that I sometimes pictured while reading this novel to be so tranquil, but I would also love to hear the cry of the Mermaid song. This story has such a mystery and a pinch of something supernatural involved. I felt like Maine was a perfect setting and the most alluring backdrop for a story about Mermaids who crave the torment of the love thirsty men ashore!

I am in love with this book! I will forever cherish it on my shelf!

***A lot of hugs and warm wishes to Mrs. Erika Marks for my own copy of this book, which she provided to me in exchange for my honest review***

It says, “with best wishes and mermaid dreams.” Thank you, Erika! I absolutely loved it!

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