3 of 5
The Mermaid's Child
288 pages; Vintage
Malin Reed, the tough, lonely, adventurous heroine of Jo Baker's novel, has never known her mother, but her dad insists she was a mermaid. Her grandmother, unsympathetic to fairy tales, uses a worse name—"sugared, smutty, not-to-be-mentioned-again"—that the child doesn't yet understand. When her father dies, Malin loses her only protector and is left alone to survive and figure out her real identity. Baker's writing seduces as she recounts Malin's outlandish journey, which takes her from the crew of a slave ship, through the desert with a broken-down circus to becoming adrift in the ocean with an ancient scholar, all the while remaining on the lookout for a glimpse of her missing parent—and the love that is, as she put it, "all I’d ever wanted."
— Joanna Scutts