Wednesday, June 20, 2018

*Review* The Mermaid by Christina Henry

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Published: June 19, 2018
Pages: 336

From the author of Lost Boy comes a historical fairy tale about a mermaid who leaves the sea for love and later finds herself in P.T. Barnum's American Museum as the real Fiji mermaid. However, leaving the museum may be harder than leaving the sea ever was.

Once there was a mermaid who longed to know of more than her ocean home and her people. One day a fisherman trapped her in his net but couldn't bear to keep her. But his eyes were lonely and caught her more surely than the net, and so she evoked a magic that allowed her to walk upon the shore. The mermaid, Amelia, became his wife, and they lived on a cliff above the ocean for ever so many years, until one day the fisherman rowed out to sea and did not return.

P. T. Barnum was looking for marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he'd heard a rumor of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea. He wanted to make his fortune, and an attraction like Amelia was just the ticket.

Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he's determined to hold on to his mermaid.

"Mr. Barnum is accustomed to having his own way. That doesn't mean I'm required to give it to him."

"Until I became human nobody ever told me there was something wrong with my body." 

"I don't belong to any man--not to Jack, not to Barnum, not to you. I only belong to myself. But belonging to myself doesn't mean I don't love you or that I don't want to stand beside you."

I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program. This is my honest review. 

I basically stalked the First to Read website until this book was offered so that I could make sure I could guarantee myself a copy of it. I have thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Henry's other classic retellings, in spite of the fact that they completely twist my memories of the original stories. I hadn't even bothered to read the synopsis of this book, because I knew I wanted it...of course I knew I wanted it thinking that it was going to be about the mermaids from Neverland (because her last book was about the origins of Captain Hook). This book wasn't about the mermaids from Neverland (but you probably already knew that because unlike me, you're smart and read book blurbs). 

So obviously I didn't get what I was expecting from this book, but I'm okay with that because this was so much better than what I could imagine coming out of Neverland. Ms. Henry pulled mermaids from the land of fantasy into the real world. Not the present, but the real world nonetheless. I felt like there was less setting description than in her previous retellings, but it was also less necessary because the setting was less foreign. I had no problem picturing myself in the halls of Barnum's museum or on the coast of Maine. 

The real treasure in this book is Amelia. While I didn't notice it at first, because of course she acts different than the other women of the time, she is a feminist. She's strong-willed and not willing to let any man tell her how she should behave. At first I just wrote that off as her being a mermaid and having a different culture than humans, but then I realized it has nothing to do with her mermaid existence. But the best part is that her feminism started to spread, just a little, but enough to make a difference in the lives of at least a few other women and girls. Amelia is exactly the kind of mermaid I want my daughter to read about. 

Overall I give The Mermaid 4.376 stars. - Katie 

CHRISTINA HENRY is the author of the CHRONICLES OF ALICE duology, ALICE and RED QUEEN, a dark and twisted take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as well as LOST BOY: THE TRUE STORY OF CAPTAIN HOOK, an origin story of Captain Hook from Peter Pan.

Her newest novel, THE MERMAID (June 2018), is a historical fairy tale based on the P.T. Barnum Fiji Mermaid hoax.

She is also the author of the national bestselling BLACK WINGS series (BLACK WINGS, BLACK NIGHT, BLACK HOWL, BLACK LAMENT, BLACK CITY, BLACK HEART and BLACK SPRING) featuring Agent of Death Madeline Black and her popcorn-loving gargoyle Beezle.

She enjoys running long distances, reading anything she can get her hands on and watching movies with samurai, zombies and/or subtitles in her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

You can visit her on the web at,,, and Instagram at authorchristinahenry


  1. I'm going to be reading this one soon, so I'm happy to see you enjoyed it! I also like that you said the main character is the type of mermaid you'd want your daughter to read about.

    L @ Do You Dog-ear?

    1. She's definitely a good role model for girls, and this is probably the most kid friendly of Christina Henry's classic retellings (although I'm not sure this one really qualifies because it doesn't claim to be about The Little Mermaid, but still).

      Thanks for stopping by. - Katie

  2. Definitely sounds like a good read! And glad this turned out well. Although I think I would totally read a book about Neverland's mermaids too, that would be cool! :)

    1. Oh, I'd definitely still read a book about Neverland's mermaids too...that's just not what this ended up being about. Thanks for stopping by. - Katie