Once in a while, you come across a book that is the perfect mix of things you love. I’ve been a huge fan of Christina Henry for years, and when I saw her most recent release, The Mermaid, I knew I would love it. And not just because the cover is pretty.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
(From Goodreads) Once there was a mermaid who longed to know of more than her ocean home and her people. One day a fisherman trapped her in his net but couldn’t bear to keep her. But his eyes were lonely and caught her more surely than the net, and so she evoked a magic that allowed her to walk upon the shore. The mermaid, Amelia, became his wife, and they lived on a cliff above the ocean for ever so many years, until one day the fisherman rowed out to sea and did not return.
P. T. Barnum was looking for marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he’d heard a rumor of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea. He wanted to make his fortune, and an attraction like Amelia was just the ticket.
Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time 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.
Magic and historical fiction? Sign me up! A fantastical story written by Christina Henry? Even better. I’ve been curious about P. T. Barnum ever since I studied history in college. (Did you know Barnum was a strong advocate of prohibition?) I’ve seen pictures of his “Fiji Mermaid”, and was definitely intrigued by the idea of a real mermaid in Barnum’s museum. I was not disappointed.
Christina Henry crafted an absolutely beautiful story. It wasn’t quite as dark as I was expecting, having previously read her Alice series and her Peter Pan retelling, Lost Boy. If you’ve read any of those books, you know how brutal Henry can be to her poor characters. While The Mermaid isn’t exactly a happy, feel-good book, it does have a level of lightness to it that kind of balanced out the dark. Almost. It was a different experience from Henry’s other novels (at least the ones I’ve read so far), and I really enjoyed it. The story, the characters, the setting were all brilliant and came together to make something truly special.
As much as I loved the story – which is a lot – I think my favorite part of this book might just be the absolutely beautiful writing. Each book Henry writes gets better and better, and this one was no exception. I fell in love with her prose on the first page, and it just really made me happy the entire time I was reading this book.
★★★★★ – I loved The Mermaid! It was an all-around beautiful book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a healthy dose of fantasy mixed in.
The Mermaid is available in bookstores now! You can pick up a copy on Amazon.
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose The Mermaid as one of your two free books.
*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may get a small commission for purchases made through this post.*