May 31, 2011

Review: Hannah (Daughters of the Sea) by Kathryn Lasky

Title: Hannah (Daughters of the Sea, #1)
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Publication Year: 2009
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Hannah wants to be normal, but she's not. The sea calls to her, and she can see a delicate tracing 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 works 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.

My two cents: I came across this series while looking for something with mermaid to read (since I couldn't locate my 'Selina Penaluna' book). I was a bit reluctant to pick this up because of the mixed reviews it receives but it sounds like something I'd really like.

The book opens in an orphanage in Boston where our protagonist, Hannah had lived most of her life. Now fifteen, she was ready to leave the house but she was deemed unsuitable for the employment and was instead sent to Kansas. But Kansas, being far from the sea, made her sick and soon she returned to the orphanage and found a job as a scullery girl at the Hawleys' house, one of Boston's wealthiest families. It was at this house she began to slowly learn of her true identity and destiny.

I would say that the book is more of a historical fiction with a twist of fantasy rather than the other way round. Most of the book is spent on describing Hannah's life as a scullery girl in the household and the elaborate tradition of what it was like to serve in the 19th century in a house of a wealthy family. Though I would have preferred more if more pages were devoted to the fantasy part of the story, I nevertheless enjoyed it thoroughly. I never really read anything with historical settings that took place in the USA and I was kind of intrigued.

Hannah's true identity is kept secret to the readers for most of the book. Clue is given bits by bits particularly through the remarks of one Stannish Whitman Wheeler, a renowned painter who was working on a piece with the Hawleys. Though it is never made clear until a few last pages, it is very clear from the very beginning what the mystery is and who Stannish really is.

I have to admit that the romance between Hannah and Stannish felt a bit rushed. And I was kinda hoping that Lila (one of the Hawleys' daughters) was more than just evil and lunatic. Rather she is just a convenient means to Hannah discovering her true self. The youngest of Hawleys' daughters, Ettie though likable seems a bit too mature for her age sometimes and it is somehow unbelievable. I, nevertheless, love her for all the love she has for Hannah.

The only complain I have is that the story ended rather abruptly. I'd really like to know what would happen between Stannish and Hannah after all those initial attraction especially when he seems to have the answers to Hannah's many questions. However, I'm glad that there are two more books in the series and I hope some of the unresolved story lines in this one will be addressed. Though it ended abruptly, I have a pretty good idea of where Hannah's life would be intertwined with that of her other sisters.

All in all, 'Hannah' is a pretty good read. A very easy read too. I'd totally recommend it to younger readers.

My verdict: 4/5

Challenge: Historical de Tour Genre Reading Challenge 2011
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