If Calypso was your favorite part about Pirates of the Caribbean, then you will absolutely love this book! "A Comb of Wishes" is the middle grade debut from Lisa Stringfellow that hits shelves February 2022, and it is steeped in Caribbean mermaid folklore. But don't take that to mean that this book is about plucky singing sea creatures. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
Ophidia is a wrathful mermaid that very much gives off a powerful, mysterious, alluring energy and the way that Lisa describes her long flowing locs and kaleidoscopic scales is captivating. I really enjoyed how the book goes back and forth between telling Ophidia's background and then bringing that story into the present day and intertwining it with Kela's story.
When we first meet Kela, she is still grieving her mother's recent passing. During a beach trip, Kela comes across an ancient treasure which turns out to be Ophidia's comb. In exchange for her comb, Ophidia grants Kela a wish. But entering into an arrangement with Ophidia turns out to be more perilous than Kela could have ever imagined.
For me the book was ultimately about repairing relationships and how we process grief. The relationships between Kela and her best friend and Kela and her father suffer greatly as she struggles to navigate life without her mother. As we learn more about Ophidia's story, we learn that she has her own friendship that needs repairing.
Middle graders will love following Kela on her journey of self-discovery and all the exploits it gets her into. The beautiful island of St Rita makes for an inviting backdrop and the mythology that's interwoven into the story just adds to the charm.
I can't wait to see what's next from Lisa Stringfellow. Pre-order or pick up "A Comb of Wishes" when it's released Feb 2022