Do you want to read The Little Mermaid story but with a big twist? Okay, maybe that is not enough. How about do you want to read about a young girl who is dealing with the death of her mother, her father’s drinking, keeping the lighthouse light burning and a real do-gooder teacher? I will loss in a boy who lives in the houses tower and likes biting people as they come into his room (after all, he has to keep up that “monster” persona), has a tail instead of legs and is not properly taken care of by a housekeeper (after the death of his beloved caregiver). Said housekeeper has a son who likes cutting up newspapers and secrets. There is a handyman who has been handier in days past and a circus filled with colorful characters. There are pirates, mermaids and crazy storms.
If any of that made you want to read a story, then you do not have to farther than Of Salt and Shore by Annet Schaap.
From page one I knew that it had to be a translation (and the fact it is translated by Laura Watkins reinforced that) as the language can be choppy and does not flow. The version read was from a few eBook ARCs I was sent by a publisher; therefore, I am not sure if the pages will stay the same (large margins and other spaces between lines, larger than usual text size). Or the artwork continuing to be a few quick images at the start of a new chapter, with a couple of full pages breaking up the section. This book is coming out in October 2020 and I’ll be curious to see what kind of press the publishers give it. I’m not seeing it becoming a classic.
The story is simple: Lampie is a young girl living with her lighthouse keeper father. She is naïve to the world, but when forced to live in the Black House (home of a respected Admiral and a”Monster”) she starts to learn more about right and wrong, love and secrets. As said, the story is choppy and never truly fleshed out. Nor do the characters seem to really take responsibility for their actions. The open ending makes this not a perfect book, but an interesting one. The translation might make it harder for some Western readers, but most kids 9 to 11 probably would enjoy. However, there are some intense scenes and a death of at least one character, therefore the sensitive reader might not be the first choice.