I think we all remember watching the Little Mermaid as a kid. I do. Heck, I had Little Mermaid underwear! It seems as though even after all these years our obsession with mermaids and the aquatic life hasn’t died down much. Living in Florida makes it a little easier to believe in these types of fairy tales. Surrounded by water on three sides, with beautiful beaches stretching for miles–it makes you wonder if the light you saw glinting off the waves wasn’t really glancing off of silver scales. Myself? I never understood Ariel. You want to be part of our world?? Please girl, come sit at my desk while I take your place in the surf. I don’t care much for seafood, but I’m flexible!
Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon is a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic. It chronicles the lives of Princess Margrethe–stuck in hiding during war-time posing as a nun–and Lenia, the Sea King’s youngest daughter. On her 18th birthday Lenia gets to visit the surface of the ocean for the first and last time (as is traditional for mermaids on their 18th year). She happens upon a terrible ship wreck and saves one handsome (of course) man from drowning. As she tows him miles to shore, she falls madly in love with him–warm skin, thumping heart, along with the idea of his soul (which mermaids do not possess). Margrethe happens to be standing on the beach at the very moment that the strange man is dragged to shore and she witnesses a tender kiss between the two. When he wakes up, he believes the young “nun” has saved him. Too bad he turns out the be the bad boy prince from the rebel Southern Kingdom. Imagine that. Soon after, Lenia visits Sybil the sea-witch to strike a bargain.
Thus ensues a love triangle of epic proportions.
“Souls were webs of light that contained the essence of a human’s life. Memories and loves, children and families. Every moment of a life, pressing in.”
I really appreciated this book. Retellings can be awesome or awful. This one was awesome. Turgeon’s style of writing is very lyrical and poetic and she has a great eye for details. I like how whenever a mermaid would touch a human’s skin, a shimmery trail would be left behind… forever. Is that cool, or what? The way that the two princesses became rivals was set up really well too. Both had so much at stake that I couldn’t help but change who I was rooting for after each new chapter. It was nice to see two beautiful women having respect for each other for once rather than being catty and evil. I liked how Turgeon added a little bit of sex appeal and raciness to the story–definitely not your Disney version here.
The only real complaint that I had about Mermaid was that the whole “love at first sight, marry me now” thing is so far-fetched that it just makes me roll my eyes. I get that extreme romance and true love theme is being imparted…but it’s a little tired if you ask me. But, I suppose that’s also how things worked back in the Medieval Times. You’re hot, I wanna bone you, let’s get married and make it legit. I get it.
Other than VEHEMENTLY disagreeing with Lenia’s choice to give up the sea for the human world, this was a great story. Definitely worth the read.
4 lost voices out of 5