This book was one of my most anticipated releases of last year. The Little Mermaid is one of my favourite fairy tales (and my favourite Disney movie). So a sea witch origin story? Hell yes! I pre ordered as well and was so excited when my review request was approved.
Only…I can’t say I was overtly impressed. It was almost 70% of the book before anything resembling The Little Mermaid cropped up into the story and the first half was slow and kind of boring. The setting was beautiful – inspired by the original tale not the Disneyfied version, the Danish kingdom by the sea sounds absolutely beautiful.
The heroine, Evie, is interesting as she is not the most likeable of characters. She’s kind of blunt at times, an outcast. Her mother is out of the picture (can’t remember why) and her father is away a lot working on the fishing boats. Evie lives with the local witch, and is learning her magic. And sneaking glances at magic she’s not supposed to know.
Already looked down upon because of where she stays, she also feels the stigma of the death of her childhood best friend Anna. They were both playing in the sea, something happened, Evie survived, Anna did not. Evie also has developed a close friendship with the Crown Prince and his handsome cousin, all are about the same age. Many of the nobles don’t like this, another reason Evie is frowned up on.
Yet despite this she keeps a strong outlook and doesn’t let people’s disdain of her stop her from being friends with the Prince and hanging out with him and his cousin whenever she can. She’s also not opposed to using magic she’s not supposed to.
The first half of the book focuses on how Evie deals with day to day life, her friendship with the two princes, the upcoming festival. The hints of her darker nature just showing through. It is beautifully written, but it is very very slow. And despite showing hints of a strong character, Evie spends a fair bit of time mooning over the Prince’s cousin who she may or may not have feelings for. The dude is a known player yet seems to give her special treatment more than any other girls he’s supposedly courted.
When a strange new girl arrives in town looking almost identical to Anna, Evie’s world is thrown. She’s convinced the girl IS Anna, but the girl is firm she is not. She and the girl develop a close friendship and Evie learns the girl’s secret – she is in fact, a mermaid and needs to find her true love in order to stay on land and keep her legs. This new girl also develops a close friendship with Evie’s prince and his cousin. The cousin is convinced there’s something not right about this girl.
The girl has some unusual magic of her own, Evie is determined to help the girl, she failed one friend she won’t fail another. But things start unravelling as the girl’s history and secrets are slowly revealed and truths are learned. Things take a drastic turn and change for Evie in ways she never imagined.
The latter half of the book was much more fast paced, but as I said earlier it’s almost 70% before the pace finally picks up and things start happening – fast. It almost seems rushed. The characters of Evie and the mysterious new girl were quite well fleshed out, but the two princes just felt like generic YA love interest characters. One nice and friendly with good honourable intentions, the other a charmer with a not so good reputation. It’s been done a hundred times.
There was enough of an interesting narrative to want to know what was going on – but it was still a little bit disappointing.
It appears there is a sequel, I can’t honestly say I am that interested in continuing this story, though I would definitely read something else written by this author.
Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK Children’s books for approving my request to view the title.