In this retelling of "The Little Mermaid," Hunt traps readers in an undertow of tragedy gripping a bleak Northern fishing town. A young woman meets Jude, a sailor whose experiences in Iraq have rendered him watery and insubstantial. Jude becomes both love interest and paternal figure for the girl, whose own father disappeared at sea years before. Convinced she is a mermaid, she believes her love dooms the mortal Jude, but she longs to take him into the ocean with her. The sea's presence is constantly felt in the bleak, isolated town. "There is little else to do here besides get drunk and it seems to make what is small, us, part of something that is drowned and large, something like the bottom of the sea...." Atmospherically, the book resembles Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, but in this story, chances for redemption are rare, and the line between reality and fairy tale is blurred. The girl's grandfather, a typesetter, fills her head with words and definitions, but despite determining to observe everything as a scientific experiment, she cannot find a way to define the wet footprints she finds in odd places, the strange things she sees on the beach and her drowning love for Jude. While Hunt occasionally hammers her themes too hard—in one instance even listing them for us—this book devastates with its lonely, cold imagery.
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Hunt's fevered, reality-bending first novel is clearly inspired by the 1811 German novel Undine, about a female water spirit who falls in love with a mortal knight. When he betrays her, she kills him with a kiss. In Hunt's version, Undine is the nameless 19-year-old narrator who is in love with a 33-year-old fisherman, Jude, a former soldier (knight) who has returned to their small town in the far north unable--or unwilling--to speak about his experiences in the military. To extend the Undine analogy, the girl's father--before vanishing into the ocean 11 years earlier--has told her that she is a mermaid, "from the sea," a sentiment that obsesses the girl. Is she? And if so, will she kill her knight with a kiss? Some readers, overburdened by obscure symbols and narrative ambiguity, won't care. Others, however, will enjoy this fusion of fiction and folklore that is illuminated by flashes of quite fine writing. Michael Cart
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
One of my favorite books. I've given copies to my best friends.
The story is nicely compact so Hunt's sea-drenched prose really shines here. Read more
This book was a delightful read. As a little girl, the Hans Christian Anderson version of the Little Mermaid was my favorite story and this has that darkness and beauty while... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jessica E. Frost
What I love most about this book is its insane romanticism - not insane because it's romantic, but romantic because it's insane. Read morePublished on December 23, 2011 by E. Kristin Anderson
Last evening I started and whizzed completely through The Seas by Samantha Hunt. So beautiful. It's about a 19-year old young woman who lives in a remote area on the sea. Read morePublished on March 21, 2011 by Bluestalking Reader
This is a gorgeously written novel full of beautiful language, with a feisty narrator whose desire drenches the story. I loved it!Published on November 28, 2010 by Elisabeth Hyde
The only other books I've read that are as boring and pointless as this one are "The Pilot's Wife" by Anita Shreve and "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards. Read morePublished on March 28, 2009 by M. Marlene Smith
Of course, we all measure success in our own strange way. but by my reckoning Samantha Hunt should consider this book a win. Read morePublished on July 26, 2006 by Richard W. Keeney
This slim novel centers around a protagonist who thinks she's a mermaid. Living in a small coastal town in Maine, this book sets up the idea that the girl is either crazy or a... Read morePublished on January 1, 2006 by L. Rephann
this is the best book i've read in a long while. a very quick read. i picked it up and couldnt put it down until i was finished.Published on September 28, 2005 by S. E. Worley