"Once there was a mermaid who dared to love a wolf. Her love for him was so sudden and so fierce that it tore her tail into legs."
Sephora Golding lives in the shadow of her unbelievably beautiful mother. Even though they scrape by in the seedier part of Venice Beach, she's always felt lucky. As a child, she imagined she was a minor but beloved character in her mother's fairy tale. But now, at sixteen, the fairy tale is less Disney and more Grimm. And she wants the story to be her own.
Then she meets Felix, and the fairy tale takes a turn she never imagined.
"Things don't really turn out the way they do in fairy tales. I'm telling you that right up front, so you're not disappointed later."
Sometimes, a story is just a way to hide the unspeakable in plain sight.
Sephora Golding, a 17-year-old found-object artist, used to imagine that her gorgeous mother's life was a fairy tale, but their home on the seedier side of Venice Beach belies those fantasies, and the secret that Sephora is holding inside is the stuff of tragedy. Making haunting use of interspersed myths and fairy tales rife with brutal depictions of cannibalism, mutilation, and rape, Arnold (Sacred) crafts a simmering mystery about Sephora's secret shame, her personal infandous the "unspeakable shit" she carries with her. Sephora's revelation is truly startling, though given the preternaturally close relationship Sephora and her mother share, it's hard to imagine that Sephora keeps the bombshell under wraps without setting off her mother's intuition. (Similarly, none of her friends bother with so much as a probing question while she crafts more twisted pieces of sculpture.) Nevertheless, Sephora's painful journey and its lack of easy answers will stick with readers, as will its razor-sharp commentaries on sexual and societal double standards. Ages 13 up.