02 November 2011

Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon

The story of two very different women, one mortal, one mermaid, and the clash between worlds best kept apart... It is a cold day at the end of the world when a young woman, a princess in hiding, looks out across a Northern sea and sees something she could not have seen. It looks...it can't be. It looks like a mermaid's tail. And, as she looks more closely, she sees that the mermaid is dragging a drowning sailor in her arms. Because, only hours before, another princess, the daughter of the sea queen, has decided to risk everything and take a look at the world above the sea: the world of mortals. And there she finds a storm, a shipwreck, a sailor, and sets in train events which will change both women's worlds forever.

This book was an excellent retelling of the original Little Mermaid legend. It made both the princesses even more realistic and choosing between them even more heartbreaking. The plot follows the original story very closely event-wise, but it freshens up the tale by totally throwing the character motivations out the window and giving them new backstories, lives, and reasons for action. Margrethe is a wonderful role-model as a girl, a leader who loves her country and her people and strives to bring better to them, especially when she realizes the truth about the wars, her father, and her chosen prince. Lenia is more of the mermaid stereotype, falling fast in love and having fewer motivations, but watching her grow and flesh out into a real person as she learns the advantages and pitfalls of human society is a real joy. As a reader I couldn’t put the book down, yet I was dreading the ending because, knowing the story, I knew that both girls couldn’t end up with the prince. My heart was breaking right up until the end (I won’t tell you what happened after that, you’ll have to read the book to find out!).

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