The Mermaid Book Review

The Mermaid Book Cover The Mermaid
Christina Henry
Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Adult
Titan Books Ltd
June 19th 2018
Paperback
321

From the author of Lost Boy comes a beautiful historical fairy tale about a mermaid who leaves the sea, only to become the star attraction of history's greatest showman. 

Once there was a mermaid called Amelia who could never be content in the sea, a mermaid who longed to know all the world and all its wonders, and so she came to live on land. Once there was a man called P. T. Barnum, a man who longed to make his fortune by selling the wondrous and miraculous, and there is nothing more miraculous than a real mermaid. Amelia agrees to play the mermaid for Barnum and walk among men in their world, believing she can leave anytime she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he's determined to hold on to his mermaid. 

“But it was easier to be brave when you had nothing to lose.”

As my first Chritina Henry book, I had no expectations as to what this book would be like. The Mermaid, however, blew me away.

When I began reading, I expected the book to be more of a “Little Mermaid” retelling. Although sure, there are aspects of a mermaid who goes onto the land and turns into a human, I felt strongly that The Mermaid was more a story about the Fiji mermaid that was part of Barnum’s museum. I had no complaints about this whatsoever! I found this book highly lyrical and a super pleasing book to read. The characters in the book are also super well done and I felt a pull towards them.

“She had found her freedom and she loved it, and she would not be bound to someone else’s will again.”

The story follows Amelia, a mermaid who wants more. She always wants to travel further than her home in the ocean. She soon finds herself becoming trapped in a net of a fisherman. However, instead of being put to death, Jack sets her free. Afterward, Amelia feels a pull towards Jack and decides to go and find him again. When she climbs up onto the shore of where he lives, her fin changes into a pair of legs and she is able to walk. It’s true love at first site and they live together.

As the decades come and go, Jack ages and becomes an old man, but Amelia does not. She still looks like the young girl she became on the shore. One fateful day, Jack travels out to the sea and never returns. Every day, Amelia waits for him to come home. The village she lives in knows she is not normal and swear to themselves to protect her from prying eyes. Enter Barnum. He hears about the “mermaid” and wants her to become an ‘act’ in his museum of oddities, even if she is fake. This might be the new adventure Amelia needs so he takes him up on the offer. But when Barnum discovers she truly is a mermaid, his greed starts to grow and it’s down to his family and his right-hand-man, Levi, to set things right.

“Until I became human, nobody ever told me there was something wrong with my body.”

I really enjoyed Amelia and how feisty she was. She would not say yes unless it was something she really wanted. She also made sure that Barnum would be keeping to his promise and his contract with her. Amelia also had no shame and was proud of the body she was in. She didn’t shy away from what she looked like and wouldn’t change that for anyone. I also adored the friendship she created between Barnum’s wife, Charity and her child, Caroline. It is super heartwarming and wholesome.

The relationship between Levi and herself was one that I really wanted to happen and I completely shipped. Of course, in the beginning, she did not like Levi at all. But as the book progresses, she starts thinking she could maybe love again. Even though her heart would always be with Jack, she realizes that he wasn’t coming back and she could open up again. It made me so sad but happy at the same time because it’s a normal thing to feel after the loss of a loved one. She is a very well thought-out character and highly enjoyable to read about.

“Love does that. It changes you in ways that can’t be undone”

Levi I think was one of my other favorite characters. He is a pretty grey character and at some times I didn’t know what to think of him. But he knows what is right and wrong and is willing to fight choices. Especially when it comes to Barnum being a greedy little so-and-so. I also love how Levi’s feelings for Amelia grew slowly over time and how Charity protected her against him when possible. He cared for her so deeply and would put himself on the line if it meant she was safe.

“People want to believe in mermaids.”

P.T. Barnum is portrayed super well within this book. Although it is just another adaptation of the real Barnum, Henry makes this version of Barnum a greedy and conniving man who I loved to hate. He just wanted to make his museum popular and wanted more money. Of course with Amelia, money was flying and he wanted more more more. I also hated the way he would treat Charity. It really is an indicator about how woman during this time period could be treated, and Henry handled the subject well.

Overall, I was very satisified with The Mermaid. Beautifully lyrical with deep characters and romanced that I fell in love with. Completely wymstical and magical. Amelia is a beautiful soul and I am happy with how things end for her. Definately a book to pick up if you like mermaids and stories about oddities!

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