Thursday, September 3, 2009
Daughters of the Sea: Hannah by Kathryn Lasky
Hannah wants to be normal, but she's not. The sea calls to her, and she can see a delicate traceing of scales on her legs. Billowing waves soothe her, but flat land makes her sick. She knows there's something wild in her that's different, wrong -- and deeply thrilling.
Only one person seems to know who -- or what -- Hannah is. He's a guest in the house where she words as a scullery girl, and his fascinated gaze follows her. She doesn't understand his terrifying allure, or her longing. But even as the mystery deepens, Hannah is sure of one thing. A sea change is coming.
Character Development: 7/10
Overall Enjoyment: 7/10
Total Score: 46/70
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: Mention of laudanum and opium in one conversation, and that's it.
Sexual Content: None.
Disturbing Content/Violence: Some rather freaky insanity; one violent and graphic death-by-nine-year-old-girl of a cat.
I have mixed feelings about this book. While I found it a very endearing story, I thought it was poorly written, particularly at the beginning. Middle grade readers would enjoy it, I believe, yet some of the themes and events are geared toward older audiences.
One thing I thought Lasky did a phenomenal job with were the characters of Lila and Jade the Cat. With just the right amount of creepy, she turned the two of them into one infinitely forbidding, unpredictable, soulless Thing. Those two characters made the story three-dimensional and added an element of surprise, for that was what the story lacked. There was never any mystery. The very first sentence is a complete giveaway, and the author makes no attempt to cover that.
In contrast to Jade and Lila's formidable characterization, the other characters--namely Hannah, Stannish, and Ettie--were sadly underdeveloped. Hannah was too young-seeming and clueless and then out of nowhere doing weirdly adult things. I just didn't connect with her. Ettie seemed too mature and deep-thinking -- and while this was a part of her character, it was unbelievable. Stannish was just...off somehow. There was never time to feel his love for Hannah develop, so when it manifests itself, it's odd.
To get away from the negative, I did genuinely like reading this book. The setting was wonderfully created and made me want to be on the Maine coastline. Unlike most historical fiction, I didn't feel crowded with unnecessary facts thrown into the narration about the time period. It was all very natural. Reading it was easy, quick, and light. If you're looking for a sweet, meaningful story, maybe to share with a younger friend/sibling/cousin/child, this is the one.