Lorali – Laura Dockrill – Hot Key Books – Published 2 July 2015
Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn’t exactly how Rory had imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from.
Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and become human.
But along with Lorali’s arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory’s bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp-collared shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a Tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong, anyway?
What a strange and yet intriguing book. A mix of modern-day setting, bawdy pirate story and old-world writing style, Lorali reads like a twenty-first century, less humorous Pirates of the Caribbean.
When Rory discovers a naked girl under the Hastings pier, he has no idea she has just emerged from the sea, transformed from a mermaid princess to human form. Lorali is running from her home in the Whirl, far below in the sea. Soon everyone from a nasty group of pirates to Lorali’s mother are searching for Lorali, but it is when the mer announce themselves to the human world that things get interesting.
Lorali reads with a dreamlike quality, both due to the writing style and the setting. I couldn’t quite tell at first if it was set in the present day or in a past era. It has the feel of the nineteenth century but is definitely present day made clear by the technology referenced.
It took me a while to connect with this story, but once I did I was better able to appreciate the details of this world. This isn’t a clichéd mermaid story, but one that is cleverly constructed with intricate details. Take the mer’s tails, for example. Called their tapestries, their colouring and patterns reflect the mer’s life, emotions and even viewpoint. Very cool. The more I read the more I learnt about the mer, their history, politics, environment and how they interact with the human world. This is done very gradually, but it is worth continuing to read to discover this information.
The story is written in alternating chapters told by Rory, Lorali and the Sea. Each has a distinct voice. Lorali’s chapters are punctuated by short, choppy sentences. Lots of adjectives. She is confused. Scared. Learning. Discovering. Rory’s chapters are more like that of a regular teenage boy, albeit a British one that reads like a teen from another era, as he has that old-world tone. The Sea’s chapters are particularly interesting, as she covers the sections of story about the mer and the pirates. She has a more humorous voice and tells her story directly to the reader in second person. The resulting story is a strange combination, one minute you are reading a passage that could come straight from any historical novel and the next you have a reference to 140 characters or less.
Pirates, social media, sirens vile enough to turn your stomach, and a simple romance? If you are looking for a mermaid story far different from any you could have imagined, then Lorali is the book for you.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: mermaids, pirates, romance, friendship, family.
Age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: frequent sexual references, implied sexual scenes, rape scene. Gory descriptions (eating humans). Frequent coarse language, s***, f***, and any variation of sl*t and sk**k.
Published: 2 July 2015
Format: Paperback, ebook. 208 pages.