I love mermaids. Who doesn’t? What girl hasn’t flopped around like a mermaid in a pool? (Okay, I still do that). My dad had the entirety of The Little Mermaid memorized by heart by the time I was 4 and at one point I very seriously considered getting an Ariel tattoo.
Anyway, I’ve been on a bit of a mermaid kick lately… maybe it’s because I just spent a week in Key West walking up and down the beach… maybe it’s because summer is finally here and I’ve spent every spare, 110 degree moment in the nearest body of water… or maybe it’s because I secretly am one, we may never know. Regardless, it all started when I picked up Wake by Amanda Hocking (actually it started with Siren Storm, but I already blogged briefly about that), I got so shamelessly sucked into Hocking’s Watersong series that, after finishing Tidal, I had to have more. So I read every mermaid book I could get my hands on. If I’ve learned anything from these books it’s that all I have to do to transform into a sultry siren or murderous mermaid is launch myself off of a very high cliff into the ocean. Results will follow.
The Watersong Series by Amanda Hocking
Like I said before, I was shamelessly sucked into this series. I read them so fast I can’t even review the individual books, they blend together. I was honestly shocked at myself for loving this series so much – the main character, Gemma, is exactly the kind of girl I hate to read about (but appears oh-so often in teen books). She’s the baby of the family, much prettier than her older sister Harper, and the apple of her single dad’s eye. She’s irresponsible, self absorbed, and a liiiiittle bit stupid. She’s also dating Harper’s best friend, Alex, which is SUPER uncool in my opinion. Then Gemma meets Penn, Thea, and Lexi, 3 gorgeous yet terrifying girls who are new to the small beach town of Capri. And by “meets” I mean they drag her out of the water during one of her midnight swims and make her drink their blood in order to transform her into a siren, like them.
Siren Gemma is much more likeable than human Gemma. She suddenly cares about people other than herself, she’s forced to take responsibility for her own actions and she actually manages to think of something other than Alex for a moment or two. To be fair she does have a lot on her plate. Yes, she gets to be a mermaid, but in order to remain alive she has to eat a human heart every once in a while, and she has to stay with the other sirens (how ever evil they may be) or they’ll all die… and she can’t fall in love – rather, due to the siren curse, no one will ever be able to truly love her. She has to stay within range of the ocean and swim everyday in order to remain healthy. Above all she needs to keep her emotions under control. She quickly discovers there are fatal repercussions for using her siren magic on humans, a magic she hardly understands and can barely control. Suddenly Gemma has to choose between life with the sirens, or death… unless she can break the curse.
The first two books of this series were great. Gripping, exciting, intriguing… the third book fell flat. It was more or less a 300 page set-up for the fourth and final book. Regardless I would consider this a worthwhile series and actually look forward to the final installment, Elegy. It’s a guilty pleasure kind of book.
Between the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
I was excited about this book because it was loosely based on the original Little Mermaid story – it was more “classic mermaid” and less “evil siren.” Unfortunately it just wasn’t very good.
Esmerine is a mermaid and she has just received her siren belt (okay, there are siren’s in this story too, but these siren’s aren’t murderous, they just have magic belts). She is the second siren in the family. Her sister, Dosia, received her siren belt a few years before. But the day after the siren ceremony Dosia goes missing and her family fears that a human man has taken her belt – forcing her to remain on land as his wife. Esmerine volunteers to go to the surface in search of her. The transformation from tail to legs is painful and every step she takes on land feels like knives. She makes it as far as the capital city where she unexpectedly finds Alandar (ahem, Alan Dare), her childhood best-friend. Alan belongs to a winged race of people and offers (unwillingly) to fly her across the country in search of her sister. His father frowns upon Alan’s fraternization with mermaids and Alan is loathe to rekindle the forbidden friendship… yadda yadda yadda, their journey brings them closer (literally, she rides on his back for days) and they start to see each other in a different light.
It was written almost like a Jane Austen novel – that’s not really a bad thing, it was just odd considering the content. There wasn’t really any conflict, there was a lot of formal conversation between Esmerine and Alan, and the ending was very “18th century romance.” It is set in a fantasy world but I have to assume it’s also set in the 1800’s, Esmerine complains about the stays in her dress and her stockings, and she faints and weeps like the women of 18th century literature a wont to do. The ending was anti-climatic and sudden (I was just thinking “something has to happen sooner or later” when *poof* it was over) and made me think I had wasted precious time reading this pointless novel. It wasn’t deep or dark or thought provoking, it wasn’t exciting or intense, it wasn’t swoon worthy enough to be considered a romance, it didn’t do anything different… it was just boring, and then it was done.
Lost Voices by Sarah Porter
I’ll admit it, I loved this book. It was beautifully written (seriously, borderline poetic), and it wasn’t just a run of the mill paranormal teen book. There were no monsters or curses, there was no romance, the main character didn’t perform any amazing feats of bravery or save the world from imminent destruction. Just complex characters trying to survive among other complex characters… and they happen to be mermaids.
Lucette, or Luce, used to live with her dad, he was a thief and she was his little helper, then he died in a boating accident and left her with her deadbeat, drunken uncle. Over the years she’s become numb to the beatings, she’s learned when to hide and when to run. But one night the beating goes too far and she finds herself on the ground at the top of a high cliff, beaten, battered, and violated. With nowhere else to go she rolls herself over the edge.
When Luce wakes up from what she assumed was death she discovers she has a tail. After the horror wears off she is taken in by a group of mermaids, originally girls who were mistreated in their human lives, ruled by Catarina – a fiery red head with a tail to match. The mermaids have made it their calling in life to take down as many ships as possible, to kill as many humans as they can. They believe humans are innately bad and should be drowned before they can hurt any other girls like themselves. Luce is still compassionate for humans and resists what her voice naturally tries to do; kill. This makes waves (heh) with the other mermaids, especially Catarina. The stormy relationship only intensifies when a new mermaid is introduced into the group; a mermaid who doesn’t deserve her tail.
This book was essentially a character drama that takes place under water. Luce was easy to relate to, sympathize with, and root for. She is written as a 14 year old but she acts much older. She’s likeable, rational, and compassionate. I would recommend this book to young adults, teens, and adults alike. Based on how much I liked it as a 23 year old I can’t imagine the love I would have had for it as a teenager.
Other notable mermaid titles for your reading pleasure:
Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon (actually I recommend you check out ANY of her books because they are all fantastic.) Mermaid is a dark and wonderful twist on the classic tale.
A Mermaid’s Kiss by Joey W. Hill
It wasn’t fantastic but it was pretty good for a racy romance. Warning: VERY racy.