I’ve always loved fairytales. They were some of the first stories I was ever told, and the first stories I ever read. As I got older and learned more and more of the origin stories, I became even more fascinated. Tales of kings and queens, wizards and sorceresses, unicorns and centaurs, dragons and fairies. And of course, the mermaid.
I was very excited when I saw Christina Henry’s The Mermaid. I love retellings of old stories; no one experiences the same stories the same way, so I’m always curious to hear other people’s versions of stories. And isn’t the cover beautiful?
Set in the first half of the 19th century, the story is told from a few different points of view (in the third-person), a fictional retelling of actual historical figures and events. It takes us through an adventure from the shores of Maine, through New York City, down the East Coast.
I haven’t read any of Christina Henry’s books prior to The Mermaid; I’m a bit interested in her other fairytale retellings. For most of the book, until the last chapter, it felt like a hazy recall of distant memories. While I empathized greatly with most of the characters, I still felt there was a veil between the characters and myself as the reader. It evokes the same feeling I’ve had when reading fairytales as a child: these characters are not like you and me. This next part is probably just me (and the weather – it’s been uncharacteristically gloomy), but my imagining of the story had a yellow, aged tint to it, like an old postcard.
I loved that the author included darker aspects to the story. Disney did a great job removing all the darkness from traditional fairytales; I don’t judge too harshly given the history of the times when those movies were made. People probably needed the lightness and the happy endings more than they needed the real stories. Including more realistic scenes and actions made the second part of the story much more relatable (the first part was definitely more fairytale). I had read the original little mermaid story by Hans Christian Andersen in elementary school, and even though the ending made me extremely sad at the time, it planted a lifelong curiosity in seeking the origin of things. It’s also fascinating to see how and why stories change over time.
A Danish fairytale is the perfect ending to my month of exploring Scandinavia, don’t you think?
The Mermaid, by Christina Henry will be released June 19, 2018, and is available for pre-order now.