{Review} WRECKED by Anna Davies

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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

IN MANY WAYS, WHYM ISLAND IS LIKE ANY OF THE HUNDREDS of tiny islands dotting the South Carolina Cost.  It's got year-rounders, plus an infusion of visitors that swells its population to more than five times its off-season size.  It has windswept cottages, sprawling reports, and a coastline that makes visitors catch their breath and immediately do some mental math, desperate to find some way to live there year round.  And, like all islands, it has secrets.  Everyone knows that, in the 1960s, the mayor ran off with his gardener's wife, and everyone knows people can occasionally hear an otherworldly keening by the beach on Bloody Point thanks to a nineteenth-century shipwreck.

(Page 1, US Hardcover Edition)

WRECKED revolves around an intriguing concept.  There is a sea witch who controls the waters.  She collects human souls, and in this way, reminds me of Disney's Ursula.  She's more devious about gathering her souls, however, and doesn't wait for them to come to her.  She brings down ships, drowns humans out for a swim, etc.  As the novel begins, the sea witch, Sephie, causes a boating accident that kills almost every teenager on board.  Since the boat belonged to to Miranda and she was driving, her surviving friends, classmates, and community all turn against her and whisper despite the fact that it was an accident.  Ostracized with no one to confide in, Miranda meets a boy on the beach named Christian. She discovers that Christian was the one who saved Miranda and pulled her to shore during the accident.  She doesn't realize, however, that Christian isn't human, but a betwixtman, not quite mer, but not human, either.  Because Christian saved Miranda and three other humans also survived the shipwreck, Sephie is infuriated at the loss of souls rightfully hers.  She tells Christian that he has one week to bring her Miranda's soul and right his wrong, but Christian finds himself falling in love and isn't sure he can take the life he worked so hard to save.

The inclusion of betwixtmen was intriguing, especially when the race is first described:

After all, he was a betwixtman, an ancient race from before the separation between Up Above and Down Below, when creatures were free to love and live as they chose. Betwixtmen had human blood in their veins, and legs instead of fins...

...At one point, according to legend, there'd been talk of banning betwixtmen from Surfacing, ever. It wasn't only because they could pass as humans, with two legs instead of fish-like tails, but because Sephie was afraid that even a drop of human blood would make them somehow susceptible to falling in love with humans. The legend was, if that happened, the entire world of Down Below would be compromised. That was why the penalties for breaking the rules were severe--ranging from banishment--which, in a place like Down Below, surrounded on all sides by sharks and fearsome creatures of the deep, was akin to immediate death--to death by Sephie's hand. Christian knew that. And yet, he couldn't let go of the girl. He'd already interfered. He might as well follow through...

(Page 36, US Hardcover Edition)

Davies goes on to describe the ritual of Surfacing, when a mer comes of age and is given the ability to break free to Up Above by his/her ruler Sephie.  While it would have been lovely to spend time Down Below and see the world Christian came from, most of the book takes place on land in a more contemporary setting.  It was odd seeing human names on Christian and his brother Valentine with no explanation, especially since the sea witch was more uniquely named Sephie, but the reasoning behind this never went into too much detail.  My thought is that since betwixtmen have human blood in them, the classical, more religious names are passed down, but that's just a wild guess on my part.

Miranda is going through a horrible situation throughout the book and has so little support.  Her brother is the only one who cares; even her grandmother cares more about keeping up appearances than she does her ward.  No one stops to consider Miranda's feelings or to realize that she's hurting, too.  They just want a scapegoat to blame for the tragic accident.  Because Miranda shuts down so completely, it's hard to emotionally attach to her as a reader because she doesn't reveal her depth the way other characters do.  The relationship between Miranda and Christian develops fast.  While Miranda is suspicious of Christian and his intentions at first, Christian immediately feels a pull to Miranda.  It starts out as curiosity because he's never seen a human before, but he quickly realizes he has actual feelings for her and wants to get out of his impossible situation.

While WRECKED has a few writing flaws that prevents it from being one of my favorite mermaid novels, the tale is still engaging enough to continue on to the conclusion.  I wish it had more show to it than all the tell we got, especially in the world of Down Below, and would like to see Davies write a mermaid novel that takes place predominantly under the sea because she's set up an intriguing concept of a dastardly sea witch who minutely controls everything.  While the ending was unexpected, it could either work as a stand-alone novel or leave room for Davies to return to her world and take a closer, more in-depth look at Down Below.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I love the simplicity of the monochromatic coloring.  Instead of the blue sheen most underwater covers take on, this effect leads to the water looking transparent, as water does, which intrigues me right away.  I also like the bubbles scattered throughout the cover.  

The male model's chest is covered in scales, letting readers know that he's not human.  Plus, isn't it nice to once again see a mer-man rather than a mermaid?

I really like the way the R and the K in the title are swooping.  The way the W meets is intriguing, though I'm not sure if I'm a bonafide fan of the letter as such just yet.  I also like the way there's a water bubble over the title!

This cover made me pick the book up.  How about you?

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Anna Davies
Release Date: Out May 01, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Received: Purchased


Secrets of the sea have never been sexier than this.

Ever since the death of her parents, Miranda has lived on Whym Island, taking comfort in the local folklore, which claims a mysterious sea witch controls the fate of all on the island and in its surrounding waters. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe things are out of your control.

But then a terrible boating accident takes the lives of several of her friends, and Miranda is rescued by a mysterious boy who haunts her dreams. Consumed by guilt from the accident, she finds refuge in late-night swims—and meets Christian, a boy who seems eerily familiar, but who is full of mystery: He won’t tell her where he is from, or why they can only meet at the beach. But Miranda falls for him anyway…and discovers that Christian’s secrets, though meant to protect her, may bring her nothing but harm.

Seductive and compelling, WRECKED brings a contemporary, paranormal twist to a classic enchanting tale.


  1. I borrowed a copy of wrecked and loved it! It was my first mermaid book and I can't wait to read more! ☺

    1. So glad you enjoyed it as a first mermaid book. I hope Splash gave you even more titles to look into! :)

  2. This is my entry for Alanna's giveaway...

    So I was really trying hard not to believe the mostly critical reviews that I had already seen for Wrecked, and just trying to wish them away because they couldn't possibly love mermaids as much as me, so they probably just didn't understand the book. Well...now that I am 50 or so pages into this book, I am devastatingly leaning toward a more critical review of the book myself.

    I'm really surprised that, as an editor, Anna isn't a more skilled writer--technically. I'm seeing a lot of issues with was/were and Anna herself should know this. There is no Acknowledgements section at the beginning or end of the book, so I am sort of wondering if she didn't edit this herself. I think that that's a mistake for any writer--ALWAYS have someone else edit your work...even if, by profession, you're an editor!

    I am loving the story so far, especially the setting. But I am definitely agreeing with you on this one, Bonnie. This will be my next Splash Into Summer post as soon as I can finish it.

    Literally Jen


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