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The Mermaid Paperback – June 19, 2018
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"There is a current of longing that runs through The Mermaid: longing for the sea, for truth, for love. It is irresistible and will sweep you away."—Ellen Herrick, author of The Sparrow Sisters
"In her latest novel, The Mermaid, Christina Henry weaves a captivating tale of an intriguing young woman who finds herself in the world of the greatest showman, PT Barnum. Original and magical, this is a novel to dive into and savour."—Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Cottingley Secret
“Beautifully eloquent language…the credible historical setting will draw readers into this lovely reimagined fairy tale.”—Booklist (starred review)
Praise for Lost Boy
“Christina Henry shakes the fairy dust off a legend; this Peter Pan will give you chills.”—Genevieve Valentine, author of Persona
"A riveting rewrite of Peter Pan...Never wanting to grow up, never wanting anyone else to grow up, doesn't look like such an innocent and charming ambition anymore."—The Wall Street Journal
“Multiple twists keep the reader guessing, and the fluid writing is enthralling...Henry immerses the reader in Neverland and genuinely shocks...This is a fine addition to the shelves of any fan of children’s classics and their modern subversions.”—Publishers Weekly
“This wild, unrelenting tale, full to the brim with the freedom and violence of young boys who never want to grow up, will appeal to fans of dark fantasy.”—Booklist
“Turns Neverland into a claustrophobic world where time is disturbingly nebulous and identity is chillingly manipulated...a deeply impactful, imaginative and haunting story of loyalty, disillusionment and self-discovery.”—RT Book Reviews
“Once again, Henry takes readers on an adventure of epic and horrific proportions...Her smooth prose and firm writing hooked me up instantly and held me hostage to the very end.”—Smexy Books
“We all have a soft spot for the classics that we read when we were growing up. But…this retelling will poke and jab at that soft spot until you can never look at it the same way again.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Lost Boy owes more to William Golding’s Lord of the Flies than it does Barrie, as Henry examines the darker side to leaving a bunch of boys to fend for themselves… This audacious and gripping treatment of this well-known story is expertly told by Henry’s emotive, evocative prose.”—Starburst Magazine
“Lost Boy is a fantastic adventure story with a Lord of the Flies sensibility… Henry’s writing is among the most substantive and touching in the fantasy genre.”—I Smell Sheep
About the Author
- Publisher : Berkley (June 19, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0399584048
- ISBN-13 : 978-0399584046
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.4 x 0.9 x 7.1 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #296,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Her desire now is to travel the world and see the wonders of humans, but she’s practical and realizes that in order to do that, she needs money. From her cottage in Maine, she travels all the way to New York City after meeting with a man about becoming a part of the American Museum. She wants to show the world her kind and make money so she can live comfortably the way she wants. She is strong-willed and understands her value, but she is also cautious about those around her, unsure if she will ever be able to love or trust another human again.
And then there’s P.T. Barnum. There are so many aspects of this novel that are from history, and this man is one of them. One if his most popular attractions was the Feejee Mermaid, which was essentially the body of a dead monkey sewn onto the tail of a fish. It was grotesque, but it traveled the country as one of Barnum’s famous attractions. Henry takes this historical event and places a real mermaid in its stead, and she did it extremely well. But P.T. Barnum wasn’t known as a kind man, and he always put money before everything else, even the comfort of his exhibits. This is touched upon quite a bit in the story, as Amelia has many demands that would protect her own interests. Even in the end, despite his change in attitude a bit, Barnum is still a man who loves money and will do what it takes to make his name famous.
I really enjoyed this book, but I wish it was a bit longer. There were many aspects of the plot that could have been expanded a bit more, but other than that, this is a quick read that is light-hearted and fun. It even reads more like a fairy tale than a novel of this time. And the cover is simply GORGEOUS, so it will be welcome on my shelf! Definitely pick this book up if you’re into fairy tale-inspired stories!
I liked bits and pieces of the novel - seeing the world through the eyes of Amelia was unique and wonderful. I enjoyed Amelia, Charity, and Caroline. The women and girls in this story are strong and fleshed out (as much as they can be in 316 pages).
The writing was lovely, but the plot felt rather flat. I didn't feel as if much happened. There was a lot of redundancy in the plot, if we're honest. Barnum and his character felt. . .not evil, but not normal. He felt like a by-the-numbers-"evil"-businessman. The love interest and the love story were woefully underdeveloped. A lot of this, as others have said, felt very rushed. The story just wasn't developed enough for me.
In this novel, we watch the life of a mermaid named Amelia unfold—as she finds her freedom and her place in the human world. This journey begins when a fisherman accidently catches her in his net. He could not bear to keep her, so he set her free. But Amelia does not forget glimpsing the deep loneliness in his eyes. She realizes she could not stand letting him remain alone, so she found her escape from life in the ocean and transformed into a woman. And so the pair led a beautiful and happy married life together, until the fisherman was lost at sea.
Meanwhile, P.T. Barnum is looking for his next big exhibit to astound the public with, and he is determined to have it feature a mermaid. When he hears tales of a supposed mermaid living on a cliff by the sea, he is eager to find her. In his eyes, she is the exhibit that will ensure his riches and success. Though he agrees to Amelia’s terms—that she should be free to leave whenever she wishes—he doesn’t intend to keep his promise. There is no way he is going to let his most valuable treasure walk away.
I absolutely adored that this tale was based on historical events—events which I knew very little about prior to reading this. Being able to research P.T. Barnum and his American Museum on the side made my experience with the novel even more enthralling. The way that Henry so fluidly weaves magic into the lives that were real, the places that existed, is beyond brilliant and incredibly enchanting. I have never read a novel quite like this one, and Henry has the perfect style and voice to truly bring something like this to life.
I could talk for ages about Henry’s writing style in itself. Her words flow seamlessly, taking the reader over the pages with ease and leaving them not wanting to let go. The way she builds the settings so vividly and creates the tone and atmosphere with such strength pulls you right in—the sounds, the smells, the intensity of the emotion travel along with you. Her words transfer you into an entirely new place, one that is unique, yet comfortably familiar. I always feel so invested in her characters’ lives, and like I am such a part of their world. And this is how a bit of extra magic is created for us as readers.
There are important messages threaded throughout the events of the narrative as well. Amelia is a strong woman, and she is determined to be independent, no matter what anyone else says. From the very first time we meet her, she is searching for her freedom, and once she has it, she keeps it and holds her own. She doesn’t care what people think or about conforming to the pressures that society puts on women—it is unfamiliar to her, and she will not let her mind be changed by it. Due to being brought up and learning to be a woman under much different circumstances, Amelia has a remarkable insight into the importance of unapologetically being yourself and living the life that is healthiest for you.
As I said before, this novel was everything I wanted and so much more. The multi-dimensional narrative is a joy to get lost in. It is bitter and sweet, heartwarming and heartbreaking, aching with loneliness, longing, and love. This is a beautifully crafted work that will have you spellbound. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for everyone, but especially for those who love to get swept up in a fantastical yet thought-provoking tale.
The plot and characters keep me reading to find out how it would end. Henry's mermaid, Amelia, was different then I pictured after growing up with the likes of Ariel (which is my main reason for picking up the book). She was described as no pretty mermaid. She was all sea creature. Not a human, but certainly no animal. This along with her independent personality and perspective on humans made the books really enjoyable. I will be definitely checking out Henry's other novels.
Top reviews from other countries
I’ve read my fair share of Mermaid retellings but never one about PT Barnum’s Feejee Mermaid hoax.
I enjoyed this generally but it lacked some of the whimsical and magical flair that the authors other books did. I had hoped to see a little of the Barnum circus setting but sadly this took place before that in his museum. The setting ended up being a little drab and dull.
Barnum was money-focussed, callous (even towards his wife), and always looking for a way to trick people.
Levi was kind and sweet, and his love for Amelia was touching.
Amelia herself was the star of the show here, in the storyline as well as the book itself. I loved her frank personality, her fearlessness and her ability to love so deeply. Her love of Jack felt so genuine and raw, even a decade after his death.
The story was quite slow and I’ll admit there were a few parts where I got a little bored, but the writing was still fantastic as in all of Christina’s books.
Not my favourite of her books, but still an interesting new spin on a tale of old.
I certainly feel rewarded for reading ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Fabulous Showman’ before diving straight into this, as they do give one the feeling and attitude of the age and thereby give this story a sense of genuine realism. So i would certainly recommend reading both before hand if you’re looking for a more immersive experience from this story.
Reading a work of fiction that contains real historical characters, in their real historical places and time, while only twisting the factual narrative where needed to make the fictional narrative fit was, at times, quite emotionally disturbing. One can truly feel for Amelia as though she is a genuine historical person, because all the people around her were genuine historical people.
For example… Barnum did put a huge tank into the museum, but he put whales in it. And the way in which he treats the mermaid in this story is not too dissimilar to how he treated the whales. One can almost read this story as the story of those whales, and have Amelia’s voice speak for them. Sadly, the whales never had a voice, nor did they have someone like Levi to champion their corner, and all suffered and died serving the ignorance of the masses and Barnum’s bank account. It made me feel genuinely uncomfortable, and moved in ways that an ordinary work of fiction simply doesn’t. It’s quite the experience, and one i certainly recommend.
As with all of Christina’s books, the writing is wonderful, flowing, and, for me, perfectly edited. A wonderful read. It really does capture the feeling and attitude of the age.
Christina’s next book ‘The Girl in Red’ is out on 18th June 2019. I’m so looking forward to having a ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ journey.
The Mermaid did not disappoint, once the story is was set, I couldn't stop reading and had to pace myself so that it wasn't over too quickly!
A mermaid, a sailor, a showman and a lawyer. Who owns her? Will she ever be free to swim again? These are just two of the questions I was asking myself as I read.
The Mermaid will make you gasp out loud, in fright, sympathy and anger!
If you like fantasy, fairy tales and a little bit of dark reality then you will love this.
Like I said it’s ‘nice’ and if you persevere it does pick up momentum towards the end.
Just a bit like buttered toast, no marmite found here.
‘Lost Boy’ is still my favourite of hers but this was well worth reading!