The Mermaid — Christina Henry

June 15, 2018

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

TITLE: The Mermaid
AUTHOR: Christina Henry
RELEASES: June 19th, 2018; Berkley
GENRE: Fantasy

SYNOPSIS: 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.


He knew then, without any other proof, that she was a mermaid, a real mermaid, and far from wanting her in Barnum’s tank, he wanted her to return to the ocean or to her cottage on the rocks or just go anywhere but there, for Barnum would take all of her magic and twist it out of her until the enchantment was gone, and Levi was afraid for her, so afraid.

When I heard that Christina Henry was writing a story about a mermaid, my first thought was that, as well-known as she is for fantasy retellings, it would be a retelling of The Little Mermaid; that idea intrigued me enough on its own, but when I learned that this was actually to be a historical fiction about the Fiji mermaid in P.T. Barnum’s American Museum, I was totally hooked and knew I had to get my hands on this one. What a fascinating and unique story idea, right?


Freedom was far more intoxicating than safety could ever be.

Not only is the entire plot so magnificently singular and fresh, but its execution? At risk of gushing, it’s flawless. Christina’s writing is so atmospheric, especially in the beginning of the story, where I constantly found myself thinking I could practically taste the salt in the air and hear the waves crashing against the rocky Maine shore.

Women who did what they liked instead of what other people wished were often accused of witchcraft, because only a witch would be so defiant, or so it was thought.

Hidden amidst the whimsy and fantasy, she occasionally hits you in the gut with a powerful quote or observation on the human condition and society’s endless flaws, and you find yourself wondering if you’re reading a historical fairytale or a tongue-in-cheek lesson on feminism and acceptance. Amelia is headstrong and powerful, in part because nobody’s ever told her not to be, and she understands something that many women have stripped away from them at a young age: that taking care of herself and surviving will always be more important than protecting a man’s ego.

“Do not mistake the revelation of my body for the revelation of my heart. My heart keeps its own secrets, and they don’t belong to you or anyone else just because you’ve seen me with a fish tail.”

There’s also a running theme of a woman’s autonomy and how heavily Amelia clings to her freedom; despite the pains she’s been through in life, her greatest adversary at any given time is whatever the greatest threat to her independence. She refuses to be shamed for the shape of her body or exposure of her skin, for her feelings and desires, or even simply for the ways she views the world.

“Until I became a human, nobody ever told me there was something wrong with my body.”

One thing I would like to mention, as I know it is a hard topic to read about for many people, is that there is a brief subplot in the book regarding Amelia’s infertility and how badly she wants to bear a child. As a woman who has also struggled with infertility, I didn’t feel that there were any particularly heavy or triggering scenes, but I wanted to offer a fair warning in case anyone needs to mentally prepare themselves before reading about those struggles.

“Why is a girl less valuable than a boy?”

Even if none of the themes I’ve mentioned here have convinced you to pick up a copy of The Mermaid, let me leave you with this: at the end of the day, under all of its necessary and skillfully woven social commentary, this is a gorgeous historical fantasy tale with remarkable, three-dimensional characters, a plot that never grows stale or slow, and a protagonist that you can’t help but love and root for.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Berkley for providing me with this finished copy in exchange for an honest review!



More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. UMMMM somehow I hadn’t even heard of this at all and now I’m absolutely stoked to read it!! Great review 🙂

    1. I Dore Herny’s writing! This is hot on my list ? So thrilled it delivered, though I’ll never had any doubts. I do appreciate that you mentioned the infertility theme as I have a few dear friends who cannot handle encountering it no matter how light it is. It is always a trigger for them. So thank you for that ???

      1. She’s so talented! I hope you enjoy it, love. And any time – I completely understand, and send my love and hugs to your friends. ♥ When I first realized the story was “going there”, I had to pause and take a deep breath, because even though I have my little rainbow baby, it’s always going to be a tough topic to breach. So I really wanted to take special care to mention it.

          1. Aw, no worries, love. ♥♥ I have essential tremors and I know exactly how difficult it can make daily life, including typing. Even if you didn’t have a reason, though, I’d never judge, lol! Some days my fingers just get too excited to type right! 😉

            1. Lmao, I feel you, friend. It’s a pain in the ass, isn’t it? They tried medicating me for mine, but the medications sent my blood pressure sky-high, so after some trial and error they basically shrugged and were like, “Uhhh… can you just, like… live with them?” Modern medicine… lol

            1. Right! I am on so many right now, but I also have the blackouts and brain lesion so they are trying to rule things out. Fun times, the medicine shuffle. I think I may come off of it all soon and just stick with CND aside from my seizure meds <3

    1. I knew The Mermaid was about a mermaid who turned into a human, and that P T Barnum was in it – but I had no idea that dealt with anything substantial! I love books that confront society’s values, and even better that it’s about a mermaid doing it! I want to read this so bad! Great review!

    1. I recently read and reviewed this book on my blog as well. I really loved Amelia and how she was portrayed as so independent. She was such a well developed character. What were your initial throughts on Levi? I thought he grew a lot through the book.

      1. Yay, so glad you loved Amelia, too! I thought she was wonderful. Levi was interesting for me, because while I didn’t adore him, I found him intriguing from the beginning – he seemed like such a “pure good” character, and I kept wondering, with it being Henry’s writing, if it was a trick. I was honestly just relieved by his progression and really enjoyed him. Trying not to spoil anything in the comments here, but the last page actually made me cry happy tears for him and Amelia. ♥

    1. Wow this is such an amazing review! I’ve added The Mermaid to my TBR and I can’t wait to read it! 🙂

    1. *cries* How have I not read this yet??? I loved your review, it sounds amazing and now I’m even more excited to read it!

    1. I’ve heard a little bit about this one and wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it cos it’s not really about mermaids, lol, but your review and the quotes you shared make me think I could enjoy this one!

      1. Oh, but it is actually about a mermaid! She’s 100% a mermaid and shifts from her human form to her mermaid form and vice versa very frequently throughout the book. She’s just not a Disney-esque mermaid – she’s a bit spooky. ☺️

    1. I loved this book so much! I hope it starts to get more attention because it was my favorite read in the month of June. Wonderful review!

Say hello! ♥

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.