Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mermaid: A Twist On The Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon

Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon
256 pages
Published March 2011 by Crown Publishing Group
Source: I bought this at the Omaha Lit Fest

In a convent, high on a mountain top, Princess Margrethe of the Northern Kingdom is being hidden from her kingdom's enemies. One cold morning, Margrethe is out walking in the gardens when she is startled to see a mermaid emerging from the sea with a nearly dead man in her arms, depositing him on the rocks, Margrethe is certain, even from as far away as she is  that she can hear the mermaid calling to her to save the man. Margrethe rushes to the man, covering him with furs and then goes for help, risking her own life in the process. Hours later, after she recovers, she makes her way to the man and the two are instantly drawn to each other. When the man rushes away from the convent the following day, it is then that Margrethe realizes that he is Prince Christopher of the Southern Kingdom, sworn enemy to her people.

Margrethe's father, King Erik, rushes to her "rescue" and uses the situation to convince his kingdom to go to war with the Southern Kingdom. But Margrethe is sure that the mermaid brought the man to her for  a reason and concocts a secret plot to unite the two kingdoms by marrying Christopher.

Lenia, the mermaid princess, who saved Christopher, also finds herself in love with this human. She has always longed to know more about humans and believes the stories her grandmother told her about humans living forever through their souls. Unable to shake the memory of Christopher from her mind, Lenia visits Sybil, a witch, who promises her that there's a way that Lenia can become human and join Christopher. The price is great and Lenia must convince Christopher to marry her or she will never have a soul and if he marries anther, she will die.

It's been a long time since I've read the original tale of the Little Mermaid, my comparison as I read being primarily with Disney's version of the classic fairy tale. As far as I could recall, there was much of Andersen's story retained in Turgeon's retelling, with the grittiness that is more authentic to classic fairy tales while retaining the magic that appeals to all ages (although this is definitely not a story to read to your children). The story could occasionally fall into sappiness and the characters a bit caricaturized (I know, I know it's not a word but you get my point).  Overall the book was fun and I found I couldn't put it down. There was, of course, the twist spoken of in the title and plenty of others that kept me guessing as to which woman would win the hand of the handsome prince. Sometimes, happily ever after means someone has to suffer.


  1. I liked this book too. I thought it was a great retelling of the classic fairy tale.

  2. This sounds very good. I actually got to see a statue of The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen but it was so freezing cold I got off the bus, looked, and got right back on! It's such a great story, and retellings are so fun!

  3. I have never read The Little Mermaid and never saw the movie. This sounds really interesting, though!

  4. This one does look good. I do enjoy a good fairy tale retelling. Wonderful review.

  5. I love the original story of The Little Mermaid, and would love to read this one. I've had my eye on it for some time now, but I hadn't seen any reviews and was unsure if it would be good or not. It seems, from your review, that it was indeed a really good read, and that I should try to find it. Thanks for the excellent review and for getting me all excited again about this one. I am off to see if I can find it!

  6. I should begin by sharing that I am a fan of all things mermaid related. My home is filled with statues and collectibles, and I have more than one mini-shrine devoted to the Disney adaptation of the classic story. That said, this particular novel took a few chapters to really capture my interest.