The Mermaid’s Tale is a fable of personhood wrapped in a murder mystery framed by a fantasy setting, peopled by familiar races that are presented in subtly original ways.
Valdron’s protagonist has no name. Most Arukh (orcs) don’t. The few that have been so graced have earned their names by distinguishing themselves from their mad and murderous brethren. Each race has its own name for the Arukh, but all of them translate to either abomination, or abortion.
The Arukh are the sterile offspring of vampires and goblins and considered to be soulless. They are housed in lodges and governed by trolls, dwarves, or vampires and are largely used as expendable troops in warfare, which the various races engage in frequently with one another.
Something horrible has happened, though. A mermaid, one of a race considered sacred, has been brutally murdered. The selk call upon the Arukh to investigate and find the killer. It is implied that this particular Arukh is known for her skill in this area, but not why.
As she investigates, the trail of the killer leads the Arukh to each of the races in turn and the world is eventually fleshed out very cleverly in the form of told tales and legends. The mystery is what first draws readers in, but the world and its stories are what compel readers to continue turning pages.
Valdron’s world is a young one of unmitigated violence and the Arukh’s life is one of degradation. She fails repeatedly in her quest and makes many wrong assumptions, but for all that, the story itself is one of hope and redemption and the climax and denouement are both satisfying and bittersweet.
Readers will be left wanting more (moar!) of Valdron’s world and more of his surprisingly complex protagonist.
I lurved The Mermaid’s Tale.
My rating: Five out of five stars. I did say lurve, didn’t I?
At the age of seven, she submitted her first story to CBC’s “Pencil Box.” Since then she has become a published poet and an award-winning short story writer. She is a member of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, a professional member of the Canadian Authors Association, a member of SFCanada, and of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association. In 1999, she received her MA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Windsor. She is currently, and concurrently, working as a learning and development professional, writing several novels and short stories, and developing her platform.