When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a mermaid. Every summer we would go to the seaside, and I would dive into the salty water, my cheeks puffed up with air, and pretend that it was my world. I could chase fishes and hunt for crabs, touch seaweed and watch my hair swirl dramatically around me.
Alexandra Christo’s book reminded me of those dear moments. Her ocean is full of mystery and mermaids, or rather sirens, as she calls them, are it’s creatures. The descriptions are vivid to the point of me wanting to drop all my work and buy a ticket to a warm country by the sea.
The sirens are cruel creatures in Christo’s world, and instead of collecting garbage like little Arielle did, they collect human hearts. The siren princess collects hearts of royalty, of course, and is hated by the humans.
The plot is based on the Beauty and the Beast narrative, where the Beast is our princess, or rather, both she and the Prince whom she wants to murder, see each other as beasts deserving to die. If this is your cup of tea, you will like how the story develops. Me though, I wish there was less of the YA trope that focuses on love across the barricades, Romeo and Juliet trying to unite Capuletti and Montecchi.
I liked the pace of the book. The language was mostly smooth and easy to follow, albeit sometimes confusing. Then the story wound down to a final stand-off, which resembled a bad retelling of the Disney Mermaid cartoon. It killed the story for me.
The ending, of course was sweet. Everyone was happy and got whatever they wanted, which seemed like making fantasy even more fantastic. Alexandra Christo really tried to unite the unitable. If the she didn’t speed up the plot and oversweetened it, it could have been much deeper.
That was an adult in me talking. The child, of course, loved the sweetness. As a kid I remember reading the original, Andersen’s Little Mermaid that my parents gave me instead of letting me watch the Disney cartoon for the umpteenth time, and I was so crushed when the mermaid turned into sea foam in the end. That wounded part of me was rejoicing at Christo’s solution for a heartbreak. It was a dark fairy-tale with a bright ending.