The Mermaid's Mirror

The Mermaid's Mirror

by L. K. Madigan


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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 a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.  

Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman – with a silvery tail.

Nothing will keep 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 …

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547577357
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 09/27/2011
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 280,749
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.02(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 630L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Lisa Kay Wolfson, who published two novels under the pseudonym, L.K. Madigan, died on February 23, 2011. Wolfson's first novel, Flash Burnout won the 2010 William C. Morris Debut Award, a prize given by the ALA for the best YA book by a first-time author, and she was chosen as a Flying Start author by Publishers Weekly in fall 2009.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

A patchwork of paper waves surrounded Lena. The walls of her room were covered with every shade of blue, green, and gray water imaginable-some images were photos she had taken herself, and others were pages torn from magazines: surfers riding through translucent green barrels . . . surfers surrounded by miles of limpid blue tropical sea . . . surfers about to be flattened by dark gray walls of water. 

As Lena lay sleeping, the oceans of the world sparkling all around her, her cell phone rang. It was the Kai ringtone. Eyes closed, Lena rolled over and reached out from under the covers, fumbling on her nightstand for her phone.

 "Hi," she croaked. 

"Her name's Selena, and she dances on the saaaand," sang Kai, mangling the words to some old '80s song. His voice sounded overly loud to her half-asleep ears. "Leen? Did I wake you?" 


"But it's seven o'clock. You never sleep this late. Are you okay?" 

Lena squinted at her clock-7:04-and blinked in surprise. She was usually up by six, or six thirty at the latest. "I'm fine." She yawned, then added, "And I don't dance on the sand." 

"You know what's weird? I don't think I've ever woken you up before. That means . . . oh, wow. That means you're just lying there in bed." 

"That's what it means," she agreed, closing her eyes. She felt like she could go right back to sleep. 

"Leen! I just realized that I don't know what your pajamas look like. I'm a terrible boyfriend. I'll be right over to check." 

She snickered. "Great. Just knock and my dad will let you in." 

"Oh, yeah. Your parents," he joked. "They're always messing me up." He lowered his voice. "But what are you wearing?" 

Lena stifled a laugh. When he used that sexy voice, it always made her feel like cracking up, instead of flirting back. "My wetsuit, of course. Doesn't everyone wear rubber pajamas?" 

Kai groaned. "Oh, nooo. My eyes . . . my mental eyes! You've scarred them. But since you've already got your wetsuit on-" 

She giggled. 

"I'm heading out to Back Yard. No school today, remember? Want to come?" 

At the mention of the local surfing spot, an image of moonlight on water floated into Lena's mind. Her eyes snapped open. 

She sat up, looking around her room. Her hoodie hung in the closet, and her sandals sat in the shoe rack, same as always. Was it all a dream? She slid her feet out from under the covers and examined them. 

There were grains of sand between her toes. 

"Leen? You there?" 

Lena lay back down slowly. She didn't remember getting out of bed, or going downstairs, or unlocking the back door. All she remembered was the shock of finding herself on the beach. "Yeah," she said. "You're going to Back Yard. Right now?" 

"The early bird catches the wave, Leen-you know that." 

I should tell Mom and Dad, she thought. 

Almost before the idea could take shape, she backed away from it. No, they would just worry . . . maybe even make her go to the doctor. Lena frowned. It was a completely random episode, probably a one-time thing. 

"Lena, helloooo? Are you falling back asleep?"

 "No, sorry," she said. "I'll meet you there. Is Pem coming?" 

"She is." 

"Okay. I'll be there in twenty minutes." After she hung up, Lena realized she hadn't told Kai about her sleepwalking. I'll tell him later, she thought. 

But she knew she would not. 
• • • 

Lena stood in the wet sand, foamy wavelets lapping at her feet. The surf at Back Yard was breaking long today. Lena could see that the surfers in the water were spending a lot of time waiting around for decent waves. 

"Hey," said Pem, joining her at the water's edge. "Where's your wetsuit? You're not going to swim?" Even wearing a full-body neoprene suit, lips coated with sunblock, and long black hair secured in a braid, Pem looked like a model. 

"Not today," said Lena. "But you know cold water has never stopped me from a good game of GOTCHA!" Before she had even finished speaking, Pem had anticipated Lena's move, and they bent down simultaneously, flinging water up at each other. Lena took off down the beach, splashing through the ankle-high surf, Pem right behind her. Lena stopped and faked to the right, throwing Pem off long enough to spatter more seawater up at her. 

"Don't you think"-Pem laughed-"we're getting a little old for this?" 

Lena paused to catch her breath, clothes and hair drenched. "Way too old!" Then she spun and scooped. 

Pem yelled, dodging the spray. 

"Okay, okay," said Lena, laughing, hands on her knees. 

"I'm only showing you mercy because you're already wet," said Pem, "while I'm nice and dry in my wetsuit." 

They headed back to the blanket spread out on the sand. Pem's surfboard, an eight-foot board with blue hibiscus flowers painted on top, was lying next to it. 

"See you in a few," she said, grabbing her board. "Want to go for coffee after?" 

"I can't," said Lena. "I'm going to the city with my dad." 

"Oh. So you just came to watch Kai?" 

"Well, yeah." Lena hesitated. "Both of you." She knew that Pem was sensitive about the fact that Lena and Kai were together now. 

The three of them had been best friends since sixth grade, but a couple of months ago, on a warm July evening, Kai had called and invited Lena to the movies. When she got there, Pem was nowhere around. Even when they were walking out of the theater and Kai took her hand, she just thought, Huh? Kai doesn't usually hold hands. As they made their way down Main Street, he pulled her into the skinny alley between the art gallery and the bookstore, where creeping vines of honeysuckle covered the fence. Then he turned to her with smoldering eyes, and Lena had finally understood. When he leaned close and kissed her, she was ready. 

Pem snapped her leash around her ankle. "Here comes Kai. I'll talk to you later, okay?" 

Lena nodded and watched her friend paddle out. 

Kai dropped to the blanket next to her. "Hi," he murmured, pulling her close. "Oh, Leen, you're soaked!" He opened his duffel and pulled out a huge towel, wrapping it around her shoulders. "You must be freezing." 

She let him fuss over her, though she didn't feel cold. 

"Hi, Lena," said someone behind her. 

Lena turned to see Kai's sister, Ani. "Hi," she said. "I didn't know you were home from school." 

"Yeah, I don't have classes on Friday, so I can drive home for the weekend." She knelt down and rubbed wax onto her board, using circular motions. 

Kai studied the waves. "Long lulls," he said. 

"Yeah, not perfect," said Ani. "But better than a day not surfing." She grinned and headed out. 

Kai waxed his board, gave Lena a kiss, then followed. 

Lena watched her friends in the water, smiling at the way Kai tried to conquer every wave, while Pem was more cautious. Ani had a breathtaking grace in the water that made the other surfers look like beginners. I should've brought my camera, thought Lena. 

Ani was the first one out of the water. She set her board down on the sand and stood watching Kai and Pem, who were sitting astride their boards, waiting for good waves. She looked down at Lena. "Don't you get tired of just watching?" 

The words slapped Lena like icy spray. 

Ani sat down on the blanket next to her. "Sorry. That came out wrong." She combed her fingers through her short blond hair. "But it looks like you want to be out there." 

Lena bowed her head. She always felt a little nervous around Ani, who was tall and athletic and a crazy-smart physics genius. She'd had her pick of colleges, but had chosen Stanford so she could stay near the ocean. "I do want to be out there. It's just that my dad-" 

"Oh, right," said Ani. "He had some surfing accident, right?" 

"He almost drowned," said Lena. 

"But . . . wasn't it a really long time ago?" 

Lena nodded. "Before I was born." 

"And that was it? He never surfed again?" 

"No. I've never even seen him go in the water." 

"Wow." Ani stared out at the sea. "That's some serious fear." 

They sat in silence for a moment, watching the surfers. 

"I do want to surf!" Lena burst out. 

"Yeah?" Ani looked at her. 

"Of course. But I was hoping to do it with his blessing, you know?" 

Ani nodded. "That's cool. Respect, and all. But what if he's never going to say yes?" 

Lena shivered. 

Kai and Pem emerged from the waves, dripping and laughing. 

"When you're ready to learn," said Ani, standing up, "with or without his blessing . . . let me know. I taught Kai and Jamie. They can tell you I'm a pretty good teacher." 

Lena didn't answer. She stood up to receive Kai's kiss, his lips cold from the water.

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The Mermaid's Mirror 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
A_Readers_Record More than 1 year ago
There is something magical about the cover of The Mermaid's Mirror, alone, is there not? It was the first thing that caught my eye when I was given the opportunity to review this book. It really reeled me in (lol, I won't go there.) L.K. Madigan brought to me a world that I quite didn't expect even with the cover being a very accurate indication of this book's true worth. Madigan didn't stop at bringing me a world I already knew, she brought me one more, one which is believably decorating the ocean floor beneath the breaking waves that Selena, our main character, watches with a passion and yearning I couldn't help but feel. The importance of family, friends and the need to follow your heart is a huge player in this book. The aspect of family weighs heavy on Lena as she faces the mystery surrounding her existence, her mother and her father's fear of the ocean. Her friendships prove loyal and strong as well giving this story an added depth that is explored and appreciated. All characters, including footed and finned both, are well defined and likable, even those who weren't so nice. It felt good to read a story where there was true definition to each character. One of my favorite characters, I easily fell in love with, was one who was under the sea and I believe stole many hearts not only my own, Nix. His role in this story added the extra sense of a fairytale even though not all fairytales are happily-ever-afters. Simply yet beautifully written, The Mermaid's Mirror is a story with a lot going on including its own mystery and heart breaking romance. It has a lingering affect on your heart, leaving you aching for not only what Lena left behind (and went home to) but for a continuation of her story. Even with a fulfilling story and well tied ending it just left me wanting more. Thank You to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin for providing an e-galley for me to review.
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Does the sea draw you to it when you get near? Or do you feel at home when on the beach with the waves splashing over your toes? Did you ever think that maybe something besides the sea might be calling you? Lena has loved the sea her whole life, and now that she's coming up on her sixteenth birthday, she'd really love to have her father teach her to surf. She knows he loves the water, but he won't even step into it any more. Even though it's her birthday, he again denies her request to teach her how to surf. She wouldn't even have known how to swim if her stepmother hadn't taught her how! Lena has friends, though, and they are not as worried about the water as her father is. L K Madigan has written nicely fleshed-out characters, who are each, strong and determined in their own ways. You can connect with them and share their emotional feelings. As she comes of age, Lena wonders why her father won't tell her about her "lost" mother. She has a happy home life with her Dad and step-mother, but feels she's missing something-although she doesn't know what. Her parents are kind but don't want to hurt her. Even though she could get hurt just as easily by not knowing all the facts, her father is afraid to enlighten her. The truth can't be hidden forever, though. When Lena goes surfing in a forbidden place, she comes home with a key she has received as a gift, and her whole life changes. Lena finally learns why her father was hesitant to tell her the truth about her mother, and now she find she must make a choice on which parent she wishes to stay with. She loves them both and her mother's life is attractive,but is it the best choice? It was easy to empathize with Lena as she struggled with tough choices and decisions she had to make, because as we grow up we all go through this type of experience. I wasn't allowed to date until age 16, and thought I was really missing out on life. Then I found out how confusing dating could be - and almost wished I could backtrack... Lena's experience is not that different from my own so I could relate to her situation and feel how tormented she was while trying to make a good decision. In a related storyline, Lena and her friend Pem are both just discovering boys and kissing. Kissing is a bit strange to Lena, but Pem seems to enjoy her older boyfriend. She almost wonders if they aren't doing more than kissing. Lena is concerned that her friend is advancing into a relationship too soon and too fast, but she also is feeling her way through a new relationship and is unsure how to proceed. Then she meets another romantic interest and it gets even more confusing... The Mermaid's Mirror is an enjoyable read for a young adult just discovering male and female relationships. It's also a great read if you like to read fantasy novels, or if mermaids intrigue you. Originally posted at Aurora Reviews
Marcie77 More than 1 year ago
This was a very quick and entertaining read for me. I started this book on a Friday night around 6:00 and finished it about 10.45 the same night. I was really intrigued by the story line. The main character is Lena. She's your average teen with a few issues. She is unavoidably drawn to the sea. So much so that she even walks in her sleep to the ocean. She desperately wants to learn how to surf but her father forbids it. There is a bit of a mystery surrounding events in his past that Lena longs to find out. She loves her friends but she can't confide in them her problems. She almost feels like an outsider. I liked her character a lot. It seemed Lena is trying to find out who she is and what she wants. Which is something I think everyone can relate to. I also loved Madigan's description of the beach and ocean. She made me long for it myself. I could almost smell the salty air and feel the sand between my toes. I also loved that Madigan named one of the characters Pemberley. I'm a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice and I really appreciated this. This book was a little predictable but still a great read. I really enjoyed it.
pagese More than 1 year ago
This story had so much potential, but for me I just couldn't fully get into it. I really wanted to like it. I loved the ocean setting. I enjoyed the fact that they lived within walking distance to the beach. I loved how Lena was so drawn to the ocean. You could really feel that in the story. I liked how the mermaid's fit into the story. The explanations for how people felt after they saw them was interesting. I really liked Lena's father, especially after the truth comes out. The story of Lena's mother and why he never goes in the ocean was really catching for me. I also liked most of the other characters. Which leads me to the biggest problem. I didn't really like Lena. She was so hard to identify with. I really didn't like when she got mad at her dad for not telling her the truth. For some reason, I just can't picture the right time to break that kind of news. I also didn't really enjoy how she kept everyone at arm's length. I also didn't really like the mermaid's. I know they are suppose to be different creatures who don't necessarily think and act like we do, but they seemed so heartless. Even Lena's mother didn't seem to be acting motherly. The biggest drawback for me was the ending. I extremely disliked the ultimatum that Lena was given. It seemed drastic and unnecessary. I think the mermaid's and Lena could have learned from each other in way that wasn't harmful to either. I do think many younger teens will enjoy this book though. It just wasn't really for me.
RachelHarrisWrites More than 1 year ago
Besides a breathtaking cover, THE MERMAID'S MIRROR has a lot to offer. For space purposes, I will leave out the synopsis and just get to what I loved! First, the family dynamic was a breath of fresh air. I am tired of YA novels being filled with non-existent parents, divorced families, and sibling rivalry. One of the first notes I made while reading this story was: Group Hug? Wow. A positive example of family life in a YA novel. Impressive. I continued to make notes about sweet moments Lena shared with her little brother Cole, her father's obvious love and concern for her, and a step-mother relationship that is so positive that you don't even notice she is, in fact, her step mother. When Lena discovers her big family secret she's upset, BUT she still comes down to be with her family, hugs her little brother and even plays a video game with him. Normal, non-angsty, dramatic or crazy behavior. Second, I loved how Ms. Madigan kept me guessing about boys. They kept popping up throughout the story, and I kept making notes, guessing who her 'real love interest' would end up being. Was it Kai? Henry? Erik? NIX?!? Ahh, Nix. A moment here to say, le sigh. Now that is a dreamy mer-man. L.K. totally knows how to make you swoon! With a man saying things like: May I hear my name in your voice? and Selena, I will return to you. The Time apart will be long, how could Lena NOT fall in love with him. However, this is where my positive turns into a possible negative. Without any major spoilers, let me just say I was not satisfied at all with this ending. BUT I am holding out hope for a sequel. IF there is a sequel to THE MERMAID'S MIRROR, then L.K. is a genius, because I will be waiting outside Barnes and Noble until that door opens to get it. This is a couple that you want to read more about--and I can guarantee you will walk away from this story demanding more of a Nix fix! I loved the unique names in the story (Kai, Pem, Nix). I loved her word choice and imagery that was sometimes poetic and sometimes comical. (favorite line: The school week seemed to creep and crawl and sometimes lie down for a nap.) The references to I Dream of Jeannie made me laugh, as did the Little Mermaid comments. At 'press time' THE MERMAID'S MIRROR is a stand alone, but Ms. Madigan has said in several interviews that she has ideas for a sequel--ahem, better involve NIX!--and it is up to the publisher. I think we all need to start a petition or something. Regardless, this truly is a beautiful book that mesmerizes and enchants, and you do not want to miss it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So far im only on page 37 and its super slow...theres all this talk about finding something and nothing about leading upto anything special. I cant really say its hooking me so if u want something that doesnt go all over the place with nothing important im not going to suggest it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the absolute ideal book for anyone who loves the ocean as I do!!!! Great job!:)
SeaHorseGirl More than 1 year ago
I was hooked from the beginning. The mermaids mirrior was fantastic
Lynda69 More than 1 year ago
The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan is a light, entertaining YA book. It's the story of 16-year-old Lena, who, more than anything, wants to learn to surf. In fact, she develops an obsession with the ocean and doesn't know why. In her quest for answers, she uncovers secrets about her heritage and must eventually make a choice between two worlds. The book was easy to read and the story enjoyable. If I had any criticism, it would be that the dialogue seemed a little stilted at times (particularly in the undersea world). The characters were likable (especially the little brother). The ending, I felt, was satisfactory, but I see the potential for a sequel there. Overall, I think teens and tweens would love this book, especially if they're interested in the beach and/or surfing.
MissHavoc More than 1 year ago
This book took forever to get interesting. It was slow and lacked any action. I was hoping for more of an Urban fantasy read, but The Mermaid's Mirror was really a coming of age story with a mythological twist. It took almost half of the book for us to find out what Lena was, and then the ending rushed up and fell flat. I do admit that I cried in the end, but it left me very unsatisfied. As I read an advanced galley, I do hope they clean up the ending and give a little bit more of a farewell then what we have so far. As of now I feel like I wasted all this time reading this book, towards the ending hoping for great romance and being miffed that her "love" so quickly was gone, with no idea if they ever see each other again or not. Like I said, it just left me very unsatisfied. Maybe a short novella as a side would help clear up the poor lovers. Anyway, I read it in one sitting, but am almost sad that I finished it at all. Quite the let down. I give it 2.5/5 stars because it did have potential, and I did like the characters, I just wish the ending went a different way. *I received this book for review from
newbethlibrarian More than 1 year ago
Though this book has an interesting view on family and mermaid lore, the plot is unfortunately thin. It really needed about fifty more pages to flesh it out. The build-up to Lena's crucial first choice is nearly 2/3 of the book, leaving the ending to feel rushed and unsatisfying. I also found the romantic interludes to be forced. Every time she and her boyfriend are together they are making out, but there is not other development of the relationship, even to the point that the reader feels the reasoning behind them being together. In its entirety, it felt stilted and pandering. I was intrigued by the concepts presented and really thought the ending, though unexpected, was the best turnout possible. It will be eaten up by mermaid enthusiasts and definitely appeals more to a younger crowd. *I received this book as a review copy.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Couldn't put it down!
MyndiL More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of mermaids, and mermaid lore, and mermaid books. This book was definitely one of my favorites, though I'm really not pleased with the ending. It wasn't a HEA so don't expect that if you wasn't a sad ending either, just maybe bittersweet and probably in following with a "Little Mermaid" theme of things. Though I also would not call this a retelling as the story is SO different than others in the genre. Lena is a very likable character, though I didn't care for how she treated her boyfriend. Not that she was mean, more like indifferent. I loved her interactions with her family though. And even though there was tension and secrets, you could tell the family truly loved each other and was there for each other. I also liked the addition of the surfing aspect to the story. I haven't read a mermaid book before with such an emphasis on surfing and I think it added a lot to the tale. I recommend this book for lovers of mermaids, or of YA fantasy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved Nix. She had what every girl wants and she jst let it go!!!!! Team mom over team dad #nixisbae
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From riding the ocean’s waves with a surfboard to swimming side by side with a mermaid, The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan is an extraordinary book. As you read the book, you envelope yourself in the main character, Lena, and the story unfolds as if it were happening right in front of you.  The setting of the book is placed in Diamond Bay, California where surfing is a part of everyone’s life. The atmosphere of living by the sea adds to the plot line with the mermaid later in the story.  The plot line of this book is extremely unique with many details and unexpected twists that come as you read. The second half of the book, which is focused on the underwater world, is almost like a whole other book with ties to the first half every now and then. It is amazing how Madigan can achieve this and show the reader, “the best of both worlds.” All of Madigan’s ideas are outstanding and something new for readers to enjoy. It gives readers a break from the endless dystopian society books, which are not bad, just not a different and new idea. In the book, the conflict towards the beginning is what draws the reader in. When strange things start to happen to Lena she begins to think that she is falling seriously ill. It isn’t until her 16th birthday when she sees a mermaid, that she thinks she is going insane. This conflict keeps the reader reading because they want to find out what is going on with Lena.  I would say that the target audience for this book would be teenagers. This is because of how the story could relate more because of Lena being the same age as them. Overall, the quality of this book was brilliant. The characters were well developed and you were able to get a sense of personality from each one. Furthermore, the imagery and description used allowed the reader to picture the story vividly in their mind. The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan was truly amazing with it’s plot, characters, conflict, and storytelling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read. For teens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldnt put it down. It has nice romance and friendsop. It teaches a good lesson om family and a valubale life lesson on liying. Tgis is the best book for mermaid lovers. Jade
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the book it was great. The whole thing was great but the first chapter was kind of slow. You should totally read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BloomSM More than 1 year ago
This was my 1st book about Mermaids and i really enjoyed the characters Selena is a girl who finds out the her real mom is not dead but a Mermaid Then she is torn between her family below the water and above. This book made me laugh and cry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thi book was okay. It took a while to actually get intersting and the ending wasn't as good as it could have been,but inbetween it was a good interestimg book that kept you wondering if she will choose land or choose water...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you think she should fall in love with the merman or the boy But other than that i loved this book but it is sad she gets banished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Im here, Master." She said, sitting on the bed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book 5 times and loved it!!!!! I just think that the ending should happen in a slower context. And...........Lena should NOT have broken up with Kai. He was so nice and loving to her!!Then she sees a handsome merman while underwater and falls in love INSTANTLY!! They kissed way to much. By the way............his name is Nix. Her mom-a mermaid- is the only reason she could of met Nix. She took Lena to her village and kept her there for a very long time!!!! On the beach her dad-Brian- was worrying his head off!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago