Rating: 3 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from HarperCollins UK, Children's via NetGalley
Everyone knows what happens in the end.
A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss.
But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends.
One feared, one royal, and one already dead.
Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.
A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.
But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.
The rise of Hans Christian Andersen’s iconic villainess is a heart-wrenching story of friendship, betrayal, and a girl pushed beyond her limits—to become a monster.
I spotted this book on NetGalley and was drawn to it for two reasons:
1.) The cover is gorgeous! It's a little superficial to judge a book by its cover, I know (yet we all do it!), but it really drew me in. I loved the creepy, mysterious vibe to it and had high hopes for a dark story.
2.) From the synopsis, it's obvious that this story is connected to The Little Mermaid and I've really enjoyed a lot of the fairytale retellings that have been released year!
On that note, as you can probably gather from the cover and the synopsis, this story isn't so much a retelling as an Ursula origin story, which I was more than on-board with! I love a good villain story!
My thoughts on this book are a little mixed, so please bear with me as I'm still processing!
The opening chapter was interesting but a little confusing and I wasn't entirely sure I'd be able to get into this book. However, I soon found myself flying through chapters, the pace really picked up and I became heavily invested and intrigued to find out what would happen next.
It was definitely an interesting start to the story. I was invested in the characters, most particularly Evie, her story of hardship and life as an outcast made her character much stronger.
I also really liked Tante Hansa and Annemette; the latter really comes into her own as we near the end of the book and Tante Hansa's no-nonsense approach to life made me an instant fan of hers, especially with this particular quote,
"Don't grant all the prince's requests, darling girl. Men are always asking for more than they should."
Sadly, I wasn't too keen on the other characters. Iker was predictable from the start and Evie's obsession with him never made sense to me.
Nik is a marginally better character but the 'romance' aspect of this book really threw me off. It felt a bit messy and wishy-washy in places, leading up to a 'surprise' reveal at the end that was quite strange and didn't really make sense to me.
Sadly, just over halfway through the book, whilst I didn't at all lose interest or get bored, I did become more and more frustrated with Evie. She's so naive and at times almost oblivious to what's immediately in front of her and I just found some of the storyline a bit repetitive as she goes back and forth over how she's treated by everyone, her attraction to Iker, and her guilt.
I did push past this and kept reading, which I'm really glad I did because things got decidedly better when a certain 'truth' is finally revealed, which does take the story to a much darker place, and I did enjoy this a lot more.
The epilogue was probably my favourite chapter, although I ultimately felt sad that what I'd hoped at the beginning would be an empowering female novel, ended on a bit of a sour note for me.
Overall, whilst I did enjoy the premise of the story and the backstory it provided, I just felt that the main character lacked a little punch.
Recommended for fans of To Kill A Kingdom, The Language of Thorns and fairytale retellings in general.
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
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5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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