Lorali was this summer’s unashamed cover-buy, with its rich dark blues and shiny silver accents. Also, can I get a ‘hell yeah’ for mermaid fiction? Thank you. If you need further convincing to give this book a shot, let me just say that the Sea is one of the narrators. That’s right, you did read that correctly. The Sea. Now let’s dive straight in to the review, shall we?
During the summer months my family almost always stay in the UK for our holidays, and we nearly always head to the coast, so to read about that kind of setting in a beautifully written UK YA novel was nostalgic in the extreme. As a Brit I can confirm that British beaches are indeed that wet and rainy for the vast majority of the year. And let me just take a moment to appreciate how the teenagers in this story actually sounded like teenagers. Rory was a great character because he was naturally sweet and caring, unlike the snarky bad-boy stereotypes I’ve gotten so used to reading about. He matures as a character and as a person – his development was great and I will fight you for his hand in marriage!
I love love love the writing style used here; it was just so completely immersive with its descriptive approach to settings and the clever use of shorter sentences (at the beginning of the novel especially) to create this sense of how chaotic and overwhelming our mermaid Lorali initially finds life on two legs. As a main character Lorali was special as she is so very naïve. This made her so trusting and thirsty for knowledge, but also made her vulnerable to manipulation in some ways. However my favourite thing about her was her growing confidence, relentless positivity and willingness to see the best in people. In a world of YA women who have troubled pasts and jaded outlooks on life I found this change refreshing.
The mermaid mythology Dockrill created here was unique and exciting. The idea of humans having been ‘Salvaged’ and given a second chance at life was so interesting to read about and swapping out the word ‘tails’ for ‘tapestries’ that were a physical manifestation of their memories and feelings was a wonderful and well executed idea. Plus the inclusion of various forms of media in response to the mermaids revealing themselves was a fantastic spin. This was one of my favourite aspects to read about: a kind of social commentary of the media response to everything that was going on added another layer to the story.
The ending of Lorali seemed to divide opinion among reviewers, but I personally liked it quite a lot. Just because everything wasn’t wrapped up neatly with a ribbon doesn’t mean a story can’t feel as though it’s reached a natural conclusion. There’s certainly room for a sequel, but I liked the sense that the story had come full circle.
Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of the way certain supernatural elements were woven into the story. Take the Harpies for example. We’re told they dwell on an island and only these pirates ever seem to visit, along with the occasional lost sailor that quickly gets devoured, but I was finding it hard to believe that such an island could ever manage to remain such a well-guarded secret. Considering the emphasis the author put on how the country might react to the revelation of supernatural creatures, I was disappointed that this wasn’t addressed. Also, I’m still on the fence when it comes to my feelings on the pirates. They seemed to be neither one thing nor the other; not old-fashioned yet not modern; not bad guys nor good. I love a few grey areas but sometimes they didn’t quite seem to fit.
I wouldn’t say that Lorali was quite what I was expecting, but wow. What a brilliant and unique story. Four and a half shiny stars for this book, and I shall definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever future stories Laura Dockrill releases.