Saturday, 22 January 2022

'The Mermaid in the Millpond', written by Lucy Strange, illustrated by Pam Smy, reviewed by Pippa Goodhart


As soon as I first heard about this book I wanted to get my hands on it. I’ve always loved Pam Smy’s beautiful and powerful illustration work. Isn’t that cover a beauty? Note that the mermaid looks a standard mermaid at first glance … but that left hand is clearly froggy-webbed; as strange as the author’s surname!


I had spent a happy couple of years researching and then writing my own children’s novel about a London girl sent from a workhouse to work in a northern cotton mill in Victorian times, just as Bess does in this story. But my novel (‘The Twisted Threads of Polly Freeman’) has no mermaid in it, and it was the mixing of a mythical mermaid with a historical setting that particularly caught my interest. We don’t often see fantasy and history played together in a new story.


This is a compelling story of two orphans trapped and owned by a terrifying Victorian mill system, and facing the menace of a monstrous sounding mermaid in the mill pond when they decide to run away. That mermaid is said to eat people! She is definitely wild and beastly, eating a fish live with her sharp teeth, breathing through gills. But maybe she, too, is trapped and in need of help? 


This is a brief but exciting adventure, which also explores freedom and the need we all have for friends. 


This is a Barrington Stoke novel, short and accessible to read, aimed at a reading age of eight plus, but of interest to older children (and adults) too. Many readers are going to love it. 



1 comment:

Penny Dolan said...

Enjoyed your Twisted tHreads novel, Pippa, so I'm sure thsi one must be good too. A very interesting mix of historical and mythical, especially thinking about the dark waters of mill-ponds.