The Mermaid's Mirror, by L.K. Madigan
Lena has lived her whole life near the beach — walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves — the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching.
As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf.
But her father — a former surfer himself — refuses to allow her to take lessons. After his near drowning years ago, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.
Yet something keeps drawing Lena to the water . . . an ancient, powerful magic. And one morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman — with a silvery tail.
Now nothing can stop Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.
And soon . . . what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life forever. -Plot summary borrowed from Good Reads
I loved this book. Lena and her family were really likable and well-developed characters and I enjoyed following their stories. There was a lot in this book that could easily have felt forced or artificial (teen dialogue, family drama, IM conversatios, surf lingo) but to me Madigan pulled it off and made everything feel pretty natural. Her writing is uncluttered but still full of lovely descriptions and gives the reader a great sense of setting, and really lets you get to know the characters. The plot was never too predictable and the ending leaves you wanting more.
I especially enjoyed the underwater setting. All of the undersea dwellers were named for famous merfolk of various extractions (Lorelei, Rusalka, Merrow), which I thought was a nice and non-cheesy way of adding in some mermaid lore. At times the story veered close to the Hans Christian Andersen story, and Lena references it herself a few times, but this is definitely an original story and not a fairytale reboot. Still, I think fans of retellings would enjoy this story as well.
Sadly, the planned sequel is not to be. L.K. Madigan (real name Lisa Wolfson) passed away in February 2011. :(