Monday, July 11, 2011

Mermaid- A Twist on the Classic Tale

Two sheltered princesses, one wounded warrior; who will live happily ever after?
Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father's greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom.

Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart….  

A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page. -Plot summary borrowed from Barnes & Noble

Ok, this really is not a teen book. But I am a young adult and I enjoyed it, so let's go with it. ^_^

I was really taken with Carolyn Turgeon's prose. Her writing is detailed and yet poetic enough to conjure up a very strong visual picture of her settings. You really feel as if you are standing on a rocky, windswept beach with Margrethe, or gazing up at the ceiling of Lenia's amber palace.

Not only that, but the author managed to re-tell a well-known story with originality, grace and heart. I've always hated the Andersen original, but, while still keeping the basic framework, Turgeon has reworked the story beautifully. Actually, some other reviewers called this a much darker take on the original. Have they read the original?? It's a far cry from the Disney version. This novel didn't strike me as all that dark, unless you are comparing it to the Walt Disney movie, or some of the lighter teen mermaid fare like Forgive My Fins. To my mind it's far less twisted than Andersen's story.

The strongest praise I have for this novel is that the author has created not one but two likable female protagonists. Both were strong, interesting individuals with believable motivations for their actions (while both were in love with the prince despite only brief superficial meetings with him, their additional reasons for seeking a life with him carried the story beyond romantic drivel). I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out which, if either of them, would make it to happily ever after.


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