Synopsis from Good Reads:
THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?
When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.
Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is.
For the most part I felt this book toed the line between being cleverly amusing and a hot mess. I think it depends on the author’s intent.
The story is told in Selkie’s 1st person POV. Selkie has recently discovered she’s half ogre, half faerie royalty, and 100% confused. As Selkie’s aunts, protector, and wizard extraordinaire try to explain her life and the differences between Thisworld and Otherworld, Selkie’s head is spinning. Nothing makes sense. Is her whole life an enchanted false reality? If Dorset is trying to really connect the reader with Selkie, then this works. Selkie’s head is spinning. My head is spinning. Selkie doesn’t really know what’s going on. I don’t really know what’s going on. Connection established. However, if any of this is supposed to make coherent sense? – hot mess.
That said, some things did get a little clearer as the book went on. Some of the repeating elements, like time taking forever, or a minute, helps to establish some of the Otherworld concepts.
What really made this book for me was Ben. Benedict Le Faye is a special faerie who has been protecting Selkie her whole life, without her knowledge. She knows him casually, from hanging out in the Commons outside her house, and believes herself in love with him. Ben might be in love with her, too, but you can never really trust a faerie. Ben’s dialogue is what I really found amusing. He reminded me a lot of Jackaby, talking like an insane person who really isn’t insane, but just sounds like it to Selkie. He takes for granted that she should be as knowledgeable as he is and is baffled when she doesn’t understand him.
The rest of the characters – Aunt True, Aunt Virtue, Will the wizard, Selkie’s father, and best friend Kelsey, could have all been a little more developed. While the conversations with the aunts and Will were almost as amusing as Ben, we really don’t get much information on any of them. I’m sort of ambivalent about Kelsey. She didn’t really do anything to make me really like her, or really dislike her. I’m hoping they will all be more developed in the next book.
Overall, I did enjoy The Girl Who Never Was. I don’t think it would be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like faeries and ogres, amusing dialogue, and being slightly confused, but entertained, this book is for you. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, out in December.
Rating (out of 5):
Overall Rating: 3.18 stars