Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

book cover
The Mermaid
by Christina Henry

ISBN-13: 9780399584046
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: June 19, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified 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.

My Review:
The Mermaid is a fantasy/romance set mainly in 1842 in New York City. The story was initially told like a fairy tale narrative. A mermaid falls in love with a fisherman in a remote village in America, but once her husband dies, she's left mourning him and angry at the ocean that took him from her. She hasn't aged, and rumors about her reach the ears of P. T. Barnum. At this point, the author started showing scenes and developing characters.

While Amelia looked like a human when not in her mermaid form, she didn't accept various human notions of proper behavior. She stood up for herself when dealing with Barnum and didn't feel she needed a protector. But her assertiveness and her desire for others to accept her ideas of right and wrong also made for conflict. Amelia increasingly chafed against the 1842 white male attitude towards women, slaves, savages, and God, and she wanted Levi to agree that those attitudes were wrong.

Levi, Barnum's assistant, fell in love with Amelia and worked to protect her against those who would treat her like an animal or condemn her as the Devil's creature. Even knowing she's not human, he still expected her to conform to human standards in some ways and didn't always understand her attitudes or feelings. The suspense came from the potential danger to Amelia from religious people, greedy people, and those who viewed her as an animal or fraud. Frankly, though, that danger didn't really materialize until nearly the end.

There were no sex scenes. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting story, but realize it's more about choices and attitudes than suspense.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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