Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Mermaid Collector-Erika Marks

The Mermaid Collector

Erika Marks

NAL, Oct 2 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451237927

Thirtyish woodcarver Tess Patterson has a schizoid relationship with her hometown of Cradle Harbor, Maine. On the one hand, the artist wants to leave without looking back; while on the other she desperately needs acceptance from the townsfolk who consider her a chip off her bohemian mom who committed suicide years ago by walking into the ocean.

Tom Grace thinks he might as well be dead ever since his parents died when he was eighteen and saddled with caring for his foolish brother Dean. He inherits the town’s historic lighthouse, which he thinks is his Hail Mary last attempt at helping his addicted sibling.

When Tess and Tom meet, they share a night of bliss with both wanting more. Meanwhile the town celebrates the annual Mermaid Mutiny of 1888 when four men including the lighthouse keeper strolled into the ocean to join their mermaid lovers.

This is an engaging poignant character study that looks at the benefits and costs of fulfilling dreams especially those that cripple a person mentally. Although a major subplot seems unnecessary padding, fans will appreciate this deep tale that deftly switches between the present and the late nineteenth century as desires can lead to self-esteem or self-destruction.

Harriet Klausner

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