Title: The Mermaid
Author: Christina Henry
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
It’s June already, and this year has been stressful for a few reasons. So over the last few months, I’ve really buried myself into reading. I’ve been keeping a reading log (currently on book number 37) and I’ve been trying to get myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to picking up new authors and not rereading the same novels over and over again.
However, when I was sent The Mermaid by Christina Henry, I was so excited. I adored her Alice series, as it was a wonderfully refreshing retelling of Lewis Carroll’s original stories, and I couldn’t wait to fall back into this familiar writing style.
When I read the blurb of this book, I was pleasantly surprised over how topical it is – in regards to movies that have just been released. So what did I think of it?
Set in the 19th century, The Mermaid is the fictionalised history behind P.T Barnum’s Fiji Mermaid – a creature that was put onto show in Barnum’s American Museum during the late 1800s and comprised of a monkey sewn to the body of a fish.
However, in this book, author Henry tells the tale of Amelia – a real-life mermaid who falls in love with a human and decides to forgo her sea-faring life to live amongst people. After her human lover dies, Amelia finds herself adrift and is caught up in the promises of showman P.T Barnum and becomes part of a display in his museum.
Based loosely around the real Fiji mermaid, Henry blends history and fantasy in her entirely unique way. A must-read.
I really enjoyed this book. Henry’s novels generally border on a good level of creepy that appeals to me, and this book had the same sort of vibe. There’s a definite Hans Christian Andersen influence behind it – especially with the mermaid falling in love with the human – but Henry’s mermaid is less Ariel and more seacreature.
I loved the story of Barnum. I haven’t seen The Greatest Showman yet but I know that this has brought the public attentions back to the historical figure, so it was very interesting to read about him and his crazy museum.
As the novel isn’t very big – only 300 pages – Henry kept the character list down to a bare mimimum, which was good. Anymore and there would have definitely been characters missing backstories and feeling lose.
This novel was sweet, sad and pretty much straightforward. This is why I’m not giving it a 5. I love Henry, but I think I prefer her creepy Alice stuff just a little more.
But if you want a great retelling of a little-known historical hoax, I’d definitely recommend The Mermaid!