Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale

Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale
Carolyn Turgeon
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Broadway (March 1, 2011)
(ARC courtesy of Amazon Vine program.)
2/5 stars

Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale is touted as a dark, gothic retelling of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale, The Little Mermaid. It centers around the mermaid princess, Lenia, and the prince of the Southern Kingdom (Christopher) that she rescued, and the princess of the Northern Kingdom (Margrethe) who found the rescued prince. Lenia falls in love with Christopher immediately, and Margrethe feels that Christopher was brought to her for a reason, namely to bring peace to their warring kingdoms.

Neither particularly dark or gothic, Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale is a quick and somewhat light read. It's less cheerful than most light reads, as it sticks rather close to Anderson's sad tale, but the overall "everyone gets a good finish" ending keeps it from reading like a gothic novel.

I wasn't particularly impressed with this novel. The characters were rather two dimensional and their actions easy to predict (even in instances that didn't mirror the fairy tale). Conversations between characters were also often flat.

While I found the setting interesting, and several of the few descriptions given were quite lovely (the mermaid castle for instance), on the whole descriptions of the place and time were rare, leaving the novel feeling sparse and drab.

Unoriginality bordered on the bizarrely mundane: the kingdoms were called the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom, for goodness sake. Given this and the lack of details, I wondered if the novel had been rushed at the end and only the outline published.

The element of time was another problem issue: a mermaid year (between Lenia's birthday) passed abnormally fast; also, she was supposedly completely human and yet gestated a human infant within a few months. The need to make the novel hurry, with few descriptions and conversations and cheats on time, was to the detriment. It's rare that I say a novel would have been better longer, but if more attention had been paid to fleshing out details, this one could have been quite good.

I'm giving it two stars instead of one for the few original ideas and descriptions, but I simply can't recommend this novel, for adults or young adults, as I don't feel it is quality work, even for a light read.

Note: This is my opinion; on Amazon, this book received a 5 star rating 39% of the time.


  1. Hmmmm...well that is too bad. I've always like the little mermaid story so it would be a cool concept for a book.

  2. Wait, how is The Little Mermaid not already dark? OK, maybe it's not gothic, but cheery it ain't.

  3. Jenners: I love a retelling and was very excited to get this ARC, and was doubly disappointed that it was so sparse. I think it could really have been great.

    Jean: I think I didn't say it very well, but that's sort of what I was trying to say. . . It was being advertised as a retelling that was dark and gothic. But, it wasn't a REtelling at all. It is, as you say, all ready dark. And nothing new was really done to it, with the exception of bringing out the character of the Prince's wife and changing the ending a bit. And, oddly enough, it had a "light reading" feel to it. It just flopped for me. So far, no one else has reviewed it at Amazon, but I'll be interested to see if anyone else felt the same way I did.