The Mermaid in the Millpond

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Title: The Mermaid in the Millpond

Writer: Lucy Strange, illustrated by Pam Smy

Publishing House: Barrington Stoke

Date of Publication:  January 6th 2022

Rating: 5 stars

‘’I’m told there is a mermaid in the millpond.

Not the sort of mermaid that sits on a rock, combing her pretty hair and singing to the moon. No, this mermaid is a monster – half-human, half-fish.

I’m told she has teeth like a pike and hands like a frog. And long webbed fingers that reach out of the water to catch animals that drink from the millpond at night.’’

Two orphan young girls have found themselves in a rural cotton mill, working day-in-day-out in inhuman conditions. Bess would never believe that London would seem like Heaven compared to the dirt, the misery, the violence of the mill. Bess and Dot are just two of the dozens of children who try to earn their living while monsters in human form take a delight in torturing their souls.

‘’I am going to be as hard as nails. As tough as old boots.’’

Monsters…Such a subjective word, is it not? We tend to use the word to refer to otherwordly creatures, but the real monsters are found amongst us all. They have a human face, and they speak in ‘’human’’ tongues and they are full of hatred for children.

Because children can see right through them. There are ample examples around us. Teachers. Parents.

There is a pond near the mill. Another ‘’monster’’ lives there. A mermaid. A creature trapped by human errors. Bess and the mermaid are two sides of the same coin and one must help the other in order to survive.

When you believe that your kindness is the reason your mother died, what kind of future lies ahead? How can a young heart survive it? How can it not turn to stone? It takes a friend to show you that condemning yourself to despair is never the solution. Two girls can change everything. When you have the will and the inner strength to walk away from the ones who hurt you, when you are brave enough to stand up to those who bully you and hurt you, then everything is possible. 

Luch Strange has created a story of Dickensian quality and the unassuming, clear and raw language of our times. A wonderful tale for children and adults alike. A call not to despair but to believe.

Beautifully illustrated by Pam Smy.

‘’Her clothes spread wide and, 

mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up…

but long it could not be till that her

garments, heavy with their drink, pull’d

the poor wretch…to muddy death…’’

Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 7

Many thanks to Barrington Stoke and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.