The Mermaid by Christina Henry

The Mermaid

Christina Henry

In this beautiful historical fairy tale, a mermaid comes to live on land and finds herself in a money-making scheme that may trap her.

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From the author of Lost Boy comes a beautiful historical fairy tale about a mermaid who leaves the sea, only to become the star attraction of history's greatest showman.

Once there was a mermaid called Amelia who could never be content in the sea, a mermaid who longed to know all the world and all its wonders, and so she came to live on land.

Once there was a man called P. T. Barnum, a man who longed to make his fortune by selling the wondrous and miraculous, and there is nothing more miraculous than a real mermaid.

Amelia agrees to play the mermaid for Barnum and walk among men in their world, believing she can leave anytime 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.

Advance Galley Reviews

Well, half way through...and I'm totally “Hooked” ! ------- Smooth writing style, mixing fairytale with historical 19 century life, criticising society that fits even these days... And just great paced...not ranty..which is a rarity.. If the first chapter which told the 'Origin' story in a "storytelling" style didn't hook you up..don't worry, you'll be caught hard in the "Net" of the next couple of chapters that it will be too hard to put the book down. ---------- Mohammed Arabey

An interesting story. Very vivid and full of the makings of a fairy tale. I enjoyed this story and the characters within. Thanks for the opportunity.

Christina Henry is a master of her genre, and this book is no different. Anyone who's familiar with "Lost Boys" knows exactly what to expect here--strong writing, a fantastic plot, and a book that ultimately ends up being one of the best of the year. Her book pulls from a mix of real life (P.T Barnum's mermaid hoax) and the mermaid fairy tales we love and know to make something wholly original and really, really special. This is a MUST READ for ANYONE who loves fairy tale retellings, imaginative plotting, and evocative writing.

I received a free copy of this book from Penguin First To Read. Not sure how I would categorize this book, but it is a lovely tale that in a quiet way challenges what society expects of women and their roles. We start with the story of a fisherman who caught a mermaid and despite his loneliness let her free from his net. She knows this and returns willingly an freely to be his wife. Eventually, she wants to see more of the world that a fisherman's widow in Maine could and PT Barnum finds out about her secret and wants a new attraction. There is an inherent tension in Amelia's sense of freedom and nonconformist ways and Barnum's desire to profit off her. The story hews closely to the true Fiji Mermaid except for the part where she is a real live mermaid. An interesting mix of historical record and fairy tale morality. Really a lovely tale

I absolutely loved this book! It was well written! I enjoyed it from the very first page! It was very entertaining! I would definitely recommend it!

Very strange, allusions to fairy tale, and life lessons we can learn at any age.

'The Mermaid' has immediately gone onto my favorites list, so I can tell you right away that this book is an absolute treat. This book is a great way to dispel any images of ‘killer mermaids’ you may have in your head if you happen to have read any other recent mermaid tales as I have; I may not have had preconceptions for his particular mermaid reimagining, but the idea of a mermaid had recently been a little twisted by other new works! This beautiful book really took me by surprise, and I’m not usually into ‘fairy tale’ type books at all. 'The Mermaid' is a historical fairy tale about a mermaid who wasn't content enough with life in the ocean so she decided that life on land, with a man called Jack, who she feels is the love of her life, was where she needed to be. Amelia was able to come and go from the sea as she pleased, and it seemed as though her life was everything she needed it to be...until Jack grew old (and she didn't). She was then discovered by the great P.T. Barnum. The same P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus Company, who is famous for coining the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute." That's where Amelia's life completely changed, and the story of the mermaid becomes loosely based off the 'Feejee Mermaid' hoax that Barnum orchestrated. Author Christina Henry obviously did a lot of research to include details about Joice Heth and Tom Thumb (reading the novel will make this all clear!); I found all of this, and all Barnum's various 'humbugs' to be absolutely fascinating (and shocking). Through the eyes of Amelia, who is essentially a stranger, 'an alien' to this foreign modern world that is New York circa 1840, she questions all sorts of things: why wear all the silly trappings of clothes, why are women not afforded the same rights as men, why are animals treated so poorly, why are people who are not white or Christian 'savages', and so on. And she dares to question her new 'employer' Barnum*, who basically is raking in the dough with her mermaid exhibit. *I have no idea what to make of P.T.Barnum as a person or character, but Henry does say this rendition is the one that suits her story. There is so much to love about this book: the wonderful characters who fit within the actual mold that was cast, but who now have been brought to life, the writing of Henry's that seems to flow so beautifully and seems so befitting of the time, and all the questions and ideas that spring off the pages through the character of the mermaid Amelia. And then there's the idea of the mermaid herself, something we think we have an idea about, and here it is done again; I felt like what I was reading was subtle and ethereal, and in the way that that Amelia was trying to show her reality within the book to others, I was being made to believe it too. There are also themes of sadness, loss, and longing, new love, and acceptance, in the book, and I felt those emotions from the characters clearly. It was wonderful to read all of that and move along with the feelings like waves. Absolutely wonderful book. I already want to own whatever special edition is made.

Once upon a time there was a mermaid who longed for adventure out of the sea. A lonely fisherman who loved the ocean captured the curious mermaid in his net. He loved her instantly but knew that she was a wild thing, not meant to be held captive, and so he released her. His kindness touched the young mermaid’s heart and so she returned to him. He called her Amelia and the story the fisherman and his mermaid spread across the lands. One day P. T. Barnum, a man who thinks of nothing but fortune and fame, hears the story of this wondrous mermaid and decides that she must become an exhibit in his museum of oddities. Amelia can never be held captive, and must have her freedom...but she is a very valuable asset one he will try to keep at any cost. I am a huge fan of Christina Henry's fairytale retellings. The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite tales and so I was very excited to read her newest novel. Although this is not my favorite Christina Henry novel it was still very enjoyable. This tale was far less graphic than some of her other novels, (Alice), and was a great blend of the classic tale and P. T. Barnum's Fiji Mermaid hoax. I love that she implemented actual historical events and people into the story. This is a tale of love and one woman's struggle for freedom, both literally and figuratively, during a period of gender inequality and defined women's roles in society.


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