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

The Mermaid is a historical fairy tale about PT Barnum's Fiji mermaid. This is my first time reading anything by Christina Henry. My feelings on this book came in waves. (See what I did there? lol) For the first half of the book it was boring then interesting, boring then interesting. However, after about half way through I was hooked. (ahem.) Amelia is a feminist mermaid who finds herself somewhat trapped by PT Barnum's money making scheme. She was ostracized because people assumed she wasn't a real mermaid, and then later ostracized for actually being one. Despite this, Amelia was a strong female character that didn't back down and stood up for herself and others. The story included themes of othering, racism, and oppression. It also demonstrates how good people can do bad things when they convince themselves they are superior. I enjoyed this story. Although sometimes it felt closer to three stars than four, the second half of the book more than made up for it. I'll likely be checking out Christina Henry's other work.

The start of The Mermaid by Christina Henry is a magical fairy tale. The remainder of the book changes into a conversation about human beliefs and actions in the names of those beliefs. It also introduces a new love story which I find to not really developed and not necessary. I have greater appreciation for Amelia finding her own way in the world. An interesting premise, a magical beginning, and a story that for me does not find its way back to that magic. Read my complete review at Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.

The Mermaid loosely blends The Little Mermaid with P.T Barnum's Feejee Mermaid - only this time it's not a hoax. I found the story to be a bit slow moving but still engrossing enough to keep me reading. It's nothing like Alice or Red Queen, those are dark re-tellings whereas this is more heart-wrenching. P.T Barnum is portrayed as being selfish and driven by greed which suits this story well as our mermaid Amelia - my favorite of the characters - is headstrong and struggles with accepting the way women are treated. Naturally, Barnum's want to control / own her doesn't sit well with her though she has her reasons for agreeing to play his mermaid. I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would but that's probably because I preferred the first part over the rest of the story. I loved the story of Amelia and her fisherman and once Barnum was introduced, I occasionally had to force myself to continue reading.

As usual... Christina Henry's "The Mermaid" offers readers a look at the not so wholesome motives behind the magic. In her retelling of some of the world's most beloved fairytales. Her latest treatment. A reworking of "The Little Mermaid" offers readers an up close and personal view of love, loss, greed, ambition, and the universal desire to belong. Amelia wasn't always Amelia. She was and has always been something more. A wild child of the tides. One of those who live both in the imagined of men. And... Upon the earth. She is a mermaid. A mermaid who looked into the eyes of a man, and saw her heart. Her sadness. Her need to be loved. She came on land to love with her man. Until the sea came to claim him. Leaving her once again alone. Alone with an even deep sadness. A sadness derived from loss, and the longing for what was. A sadness that turns all the world into a cage. A sadness that Amelia will it seems, give anything to escape. The melancholy love story that alluded to in the previous passage, makes for quite the climactic introduction to this take of monsters and men. More to the point however. Is what happens when a grieving woman with a magical secret, agrees to share that secret with a money hungry confidence man and self proclaimed showman, more than willing to do anything to build his fortune. No matter what the costs. In the case of Christina Henry's "The Mermaid". The drama and sheer emotionality of the opening chapters, does a great deal to both help and hurt a reader's engagement. Because, while the portion of the story concerning Amelia's past and her life with her husband is compelling. The immediate lull that the story takes when Barnums's part in the story follows; proves quite the let down. Adding to the anticlimactic air of things. There is really no clearly compelling reason for Amelia to go seeking out the scheming Mr. Barnum. with all dramas. Seek him out she did and things proceeded to go from bad to worse. With a few stops along the way for forays into wtf-land of course. This story spends a lot of time and verbage addressing very relevant topics. Woman's rights, personal freedom, and greed. Well done Christina Henry.

So last year, "Lost Boy" was one of my favorite reads. So when I saw this one was coming out, I immediately thought it would be another great dark tale from Henry. Then I started hearing it wasn't dark at all... and I became worried. However, I recently read a few reviews from some of my favorite bloggers and they seemed to really enjoy this one and hey, at least I knew going into it not to expect dark and gruesome (although I still wanted dark and gruesome). So imagine my surprise at how much I really enjoyed "The Mermaid." I'm glad I let my expectation go and enjoyed the tale for what it was meant to be - a historical fairy tale. "The Mermaid" is the story of Amelia - a mermaid who years ago was caught in a fisherman's net and then let go, just to return to him and share his life..until he died (and no real spoiler - this happens pretty early). So after living alone for years and mourning Jack, she gets the opportunity to move to New York and work for P.T. Barnum. There were several things I liked about this book. Amelia was a great character. Yes, she was a mermaid and she struggles throughout the book with the dilemma of the whole human/creature of the sea argument. But she is smart and kind, and yes, vicious when need be. In addition I liked many of the characters Amelia meets including Levi, Barnum's attorney as well as Barnum's wife and children. However, Barnum was highly despicable and I certainly did not agree with some of his methods and his madness. The story is good and definitely kept me captivated and honestly, at times, hard to put down. The book is divided into three parts and I wish there had been more about Amelia and Jack. They share such a beautiful love and I wanted it fleshed out a little more (even if I'm not a huge fan of romance in books). Also, for those of you who have read the book - I NEED closure for the orangutan! In fact, I docked at least half a paw because that poor orangutan is out there hanging in limbo!!!!! Overall, I'm pretty much sure Hnry is now an auto read author. There is something lyrical about her tales, whether dark or whimsical, and I'm very anxious to read more. Could there be a companion novel out there called "The Orangutan?" I doubt it.

A wonderful retelling that captures Henry’s dark and somber tone as it retells a story readers know but in a completely different way, giving readers a new tale for readers while also presenting a new view of the character. Much like many of her other works, there is a dark tone here, but it is less dark than the previous novels as it ties into history to spin a new tale. However, Henry has not lost the seriousness in her storytelling, the dark humor that makes her such a talented writer and separates her work from others. It is what separates her style of writing from other and makes her retellings truly unique. Moreover, with the creation of Amelia is unlike anything readers have ever read with a Little Mermaid retelling. Amelia has the curiosity for the world above, but once there, she is so different from any other retellings. She is a compelling character that has strong feministic characteristics, challenging how society views the women, and being herself, not allowing herself to conform to the ridiculous expectations. Amelia is impressive in that aspect, remaining stoic both in tone and appearance for most of the story, and yet, those moments of power, where Amelia outsmarts the men who would take advantage of her, makes her amazing. She is also instantly relatable. Amelia captures this idea of adventure and the loneliness that can accompany it, luring her to a place where she found a home and love. It is such a compelling way to tell the story and build this new retelling by tying the fantastical to a moment in history readers are familiar with. Moreover, her tone, her facial tics, and the sarcasm make her a pure delight. Henry has created this vivid new character, giving those few moments of brightness against her usually stoic tone make the scenes shine, and they make the storytelling shine. Then there is the creation of P. T. Barnum. Where Amelia is this strong straight-faced woman, he is this manipulative little man. He is every bit a con-artist, a circus man who manipulates the reality to feed people falsehoods. Moreover, he is a greedy little man who wants to take advantage of everyone around him. They balance each other one another out perfectly, one incredibly likable while the other is detestable. He is such a slimy man, but not so much so that it makes him inhuman. He has been carefully structured to mirror what history knows of him and go deeper into that so that readers can understand him. His family life, his history may not be what readers are familiar with, but with that more profound insight, the reader can see what kind of man this was though all his actions, not just his business self. However, it is interesting to see both points of views used to tell the story and set up the views of the period. Again, to see the way Amelia challenges societal constraints will make any reader happy because she is right whenever she thinks it does not make any sense. In that one sense, she is incredibly lovable. Moreover, it is the added realism that gives the story its freshness regarding this retelling. It has a place in history that allows the reader to suspend belief that this is just a tale. The structure of the tale, building history and relationships makes the story easier to follow, the dynamics more believable. There’s enough detail to ground the reader in the time and place of the story. Once again, it is easy to follow the story and a place in time that readers can understand. It is an excellent retelling that is incredibly different from her previous works. It has a note of realism to make the story unique. Moreover, with characters like Amelia, who hold themselves against conformity, it is impossible to put down. Good characters are hard to turn away, and when coupled with unique storytelling, impossible to ignore.

I was a little worried at first, as the writing seemed very simple and monotonous, however once the story picked up I really started to enjoy it. The story really makes you think about society and how double sided it’s attention can be. The audiences in the book like to be amazed as they watch in awe and wonder but then turn around and scrutinize, judge and condemn as well. The author is showcasing the mermaid Amelia and yet the spotlight is really on us humans.

I really wanted to enjoy this Little Mermaid retelling but it fell short for me. This was my second Christina Henry book. I just cannot get into her writing style. Especially the first part of this story, it felt so choppy and felt like I was in third grade with simple sentences. She did this. He did that. She liked this. He loved that. It was tiring... In the second part the writing did get better for me but then I was starting to get The Greatest Showman vibes and I felt like the story had already been told and it was not different enough for me to fully enjoy.

I adore Christina Henry's writing style. I made sure to get a copy of this. I couldn't stop reading it. I fell in love with the sailor as the mermaid did. Henry just puts such realistic views of characters in her writing. They just jump off the page. This book says a lot about finding out where you fit after the person you love is gone forever. I give this novel 4 stars.

I really enjoyed this historical fictional fairytale. This story is a classic retelling of The Little Mermaid. I love this author’s spin on this classic fairy tale and being a historical fiction story as well. This story is very well written and the writing is so beautiful and magical. I couldn’t get enough of this story I really did enjoy this retelling.

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.

The Mermaid essentially tells the tale of P.T. Barnum's FeeJee Mermaid as if she had been a real person/mermaid. It is a quick read; interesting and cute. I felt like the ending rushed forward a bit, though, as if there was some hurry to finish the book. An interesting premise and well-written.

In many ways, this is a Little Mermaid retelling, meets PT. Barnum, meets some fabulous themes about love and agency. While I came for the mermaids, the themes ended up keeping me intrigued. Any story that deals with the exploration of belief and agency will hook me. This is more than a love story, more than a re-telling, it unfolds into something else - this hybrid story that may just find its home in your beach bag. The Mermaid is one of those books where the themes hooked me. The Mermaid functions on this idea of belief. People want to believe, to escape, to get away from the reality they despite and to cling to something else. Barnum capitalizes on this in this intricate dance. In some ways, you want to be deceived, you want to believe, but you know the likelihood is low. But what I loved about Henry's personal touches is that Henry brings in the authentic. It's not just a question of the con, but what happens when you stumble upon the real thing. Where is the real line between the real and the unreal? The true and the belief? Amelia probes at all the cracks and space in-between the two.

“He loved the sea more than any person and so was never able to take a wife, for women see what is in men’s hearts more clearly than men would wish.” Despite all the warnings of her people, there was once a mermaid who longed to know more about humans and the world beyond the sea. She swam farther and farther and ended up trapped in a fisherman’s net. But he saw the wildness in her eyes and she saw the loneliness in his heart, and though he freed her from his net, he captured her all the same. She evoked ancient magic that allowed her to walk the land and became Amelia, the fisherman’s wife. But magic is tricky and the sea is unforgiving. So while he grew old, she did not. One day he went to the sea and didn’t return. Rumors of a woman who stood on the cliffs of a far-off shore, never aging, waiting for her lost love to come back, reached the ears of a man who knew the power of a good story. And how to sell it. Amelia agrees to become the Fiji Mermaid in P.T. Barnum’s show, desperate to remember the wild girl she had been when her fisherman caught her, desperate to let go of the grief haunting her heart. She believes she can leave at any time. But Barnum has never been one to let money walk away from him. Not if he can help it. “Barnum knew, better than anyone, that human tendency to want to believe, to want to see the extraordinary.” I fell in love with Christina Henry’s writing last year when I read Lost Boy. Her dark take on fairy tales sing to my black heart and The Mermaid did not disappoint! The Mermaid, at its heart, is an examination into the darker tendencies of humanity. How we want to own things that are beautiful. How we sometimes fear the things that are magical. Yet, for all the darkness that she presents, Henry gives us a powerful view on love and acceptance. Both of ourselves and from others. PT Barnum was a real person, as was the spectacle of the Fiji Mermaid. Henry has taken the idea of fairy tale retellings and given them a new twist, retelling instead moments in history, changing the story and the people to weave a new narrative. Just like other retellings, the result is magical and intoxicating. What would a man like Barnum do if presented with such a woman? With the allure of all that potential money? “There was really nothing more ridiculous than the thought of Barnum getting taken; if there was any taking to do, Amelia knew very well that he would be the one to do it.” From the very beginning, Henry weaves the story in a lulling rhythm, that makes it feel like a fairy tale, but also not. Her writing is poetic but precise, drawing the reader in to the deepest parts of her characters hearts. While we see into these deep parts, and often the darker tendencies, The Mermaid is a melancholy examination into the nature of love. Romance isn’t always roses and sweet sentiments. At it’s best, it is simply loving each other for who they are, without demanding change, restraint, or any other trappings. What makes this story bittersweet, is that Amelia learns just how special her love with Jack was, after she has to navigate the world without it. This exploration of love goes far deeper than the passionate romance of lovers, which is so often the focus. It is the kind of love that lasts centuries. The kind that never dies. That force of love can be good. Or it can be bad. And Henry gives us the entire spectrum to experience. “Once I loved Jack and lost him, I wasn’t the same as before. Love does that. It changes you in ways that can’t be undone.” Amelia is one of those characters that I can’t help but love. She is bold, brave, strong. I love how she questions norms and customs, particularly the way women are expected to dress or behave. This commentary doesn’t feel preachy, or as if the author is making a point. Rather it is subtle, and fits with the heart of Amelia’s character. In fact, the entire novel is a subtle but fierce conversation in feminism. Charity and Caroline, along with Amelia, have to decide what kind of life they want to live. Who they want to be in a world that favors men over women, boys over girls. Even Levi, has to decide what type of man he wants to be, which is a conversation in feminism that needs to happen more frequently. “Women who did what they liked instead of what other people wished were often accused of witchcraft, because only a witch would be so defiant, or so it was thought.” I devoured this book on a plane in one sitting. It pulls you in and doesn’t let go. There is a sad, melancholy feel to the book, to Amelia, but it is a beautiful sadness. While it is heartbreaking in some ways, it is a story of resilience and strength. It is about the power of love and how magical finding that love can be. Henry wooed me last year with Lost Boy, and again I am swooning over The Mermaid. Highly, highly recommend! Thank you First To Read and Berkley Publishing for sending me a review copy!

I hate that this ended up on my DNF shelf, but no matter what I did, I couldn't quite get into it. Definitely moved to the "maybe someday when there isn't much else to read pile, but for now, just plain disappointed.

3.5 Stars This is my first foray into Christina Henry's work. At first glance, The Mermaid reads like a cautionary tale, platformed off the opening of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of a mermaid who sees a sailor and falls in love. While there is less sorrow than in the Andersen fairy tale, there is greater danger and in sharp contrast to the Christian ethos of Andersen's writing, we see the damage of religion can cause. In this story, Amelia is a mermaid separated from her people after she goes exploring. She meets Jack, a sailor, after being tangled in one of his fishing nets. Jack, kind soul that he is, releases her. She follows after him, after seeing a sadness in his eyes. After a painful exit from the ocean, she finds her magic allows her to shift to human form and she finds Jack in his cabin and stays with him. For decades. Though she regularly still swims with fins, she lives like a human woman and Jack's wife. When Jack dies the townspeople, long suspicious that unaging Amelia isn't a regular human, cover for the grieving widow, shielding her from gossip and burying any outsider tales that their widow was actually a mermaid. Enter the machinations of P.T. Barnum and his partner, Levi Lyman, with a plan to create a stir and make a fortune off of displaying a real live mermaid. The most interesting aspect of this story is Amelia's status as not quite human and not quite animal (in the sense of being a "dumb" animal, as if there is such a thing.) Amelia is a smart, freedom-loving being, who, for reasons I never grew to understand, decides to go into the employ of P.T. Barnum, showing her true form to thousands of onlookers a day. She didn't need to and she doesn't really need any money to live. Her decision to leave Maine and travel to New York to forge some sort of new life puts her at no small risk. Both Levi Lyman and Barnum's wife Charity (once she's on board the mermaid train) genuinely fear for Amelia's safety and her rights. While the book has lots of interesting points to make about sentient beings, racism, (speciesism?) and religious extremism, the story itself, like any fairy tale, requires a fair amount of suspension of belief on the part of the reader. The thing I kept coming back to again and again is why would this mermaid put herself out there like this, agree to it, stick with it, etc? I found that aspect of the book tough going. I could quibble about other things like the jarring use of isolated vernacular, particularly the word humbug which is employed, in a nonstandard use for those who have read Dickens,* with an article ("a humbug"), throughout the book. This was a pleasant diversion, giving the reader a pensive mermaid trying to find her way. *"We must have humbug, we all like humbug, we couldn't get on without humbug." - Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens This review was published June 18, 2018 on Goodreads and at Marzie's Reads blog.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this one, but this book started a little bit slow for me. I really liked the story of the mermaid, Amelia, with the fisherman, but it was so short! I wanted to know more about their relationship and her thoughts about life on land. When the plot moved on to Barnum's piece of the story, the book remained at a fairly slow pace until about half way through when things picked up a little bit. The ending was very quick, and while I liked it, it felt a little bit fast to me. Overall I enjoyed the look at a possible circus-like set up, the humanity of humans and mermaids, and critiques on religion, marriage, gender roles, and animal captivity. I did find myself wishing for a bit more description and explanation of relationships and feelings. It would have been interesting to see a bit more of Amelia and Jack's relationship to understand her feelings later in the book, for example. It also would have been interesting to have a look into other circus personalities as well, but I can see why that was avoided to put the emphasis on the friendship between Amelia and Charity Barnum. Overall I recommend if it sounds like your cup of tea.

The Mermaid is part fantasy, part romance. There have been several late 19th/early 20th century "freak show" novel in recent years but this one is one of the better options out there. This fairy tale take on a real Barnum show has suspense, romance, adventure and so much more.

The Mermaid is a story in three parts: a fairy tale discovery and romance, a harsh and complicated visit to the real world, and a bittersweet ending with a happy twist. It's magical, thought-provoking, and shockingly honest, and it explores a fascinating what-if: what if P.T. Barnum's Feejee mermaid had been real? Amelia is an absolutely fascinating character, and not just because she was born with a tail. The allusions to The Little Mermaid seen in Amelia's fascination with the human world are clear, but Amelia's story is entirely her own, with a very different and very creative mermaid mythology to build upon. Although Amelia learns to live among humans, she still isn't one, and that's shown through the numerous questions she asks regarding customs, human nature, and societal roles. It's very interesting to see the difference in Amelia's experiences in her quiet little seaside town in Maine versus those in the hustle and bustle of New York City. In Maine, the people had come to accept Amelia as one of them regardless of her otherworldliness, and there were few societal pressures or rules for Amelia to follow. That's certainly not the case in NYC, and Amelia's constant questioning of why males and females must follow different rules really drives home the absurdity of a number of societal rules, many of which still stand today to some degree. The story feels very relevant to our modern age in that way, and it's encouraging to see this character so fearlessly question what everyone accepts as 'normal' when it shouldn't necessarily be so. One of the 'normal' things that baffles Amelia is society's treatment of women. In the 1840s, women were expected to defer to their husbands rather than think for themselves. They were expected to need and desire a man's protection, and they were expected to look and dress a certain way. Amelia doesn't fit into any box that society would try to force her into, and while that makes many uncomfortable, that same self-assuredness and self-reliance eventually sparks something in Charity, Barnum's wife. Although Amelia and Charity don't get all along at first, once Charity realizes that Amelia is truly a mermaid and not another humbug, the two women are as thick as thieves. Charity sees the magic and wonder of Amelia's existence and refuses to let herself be silenced at the risk of seeing Amelia hurt. The same can be said of Caroline, Charity and Barnum's oldest daughter, who fawns over Amelia from the start and never doubts that she is anything but a magical sea creature. The friendship and love that grows between these three females is really beautiful, and it's rather fun to see them girl-power their way over Barnum when he's being ridiculous or even downright cruel. The tone and pacing of the story closely mirrors Amelia's range of experiences. The first section reflects her entry into the human world and her slow, steady life with Jack in their seaside cottage, while the majority of the book feels frantic and loud as Amelia journeys to NYC and joins Barnum's show. The descriptions of the city and the people really serve to show just how overwhelming the entire experience is for Amelia, and the fact that she manages to adapt at all is amazing. As Amelia's secret is shared with more and more people, the tone becomes more and more bleak to mirror Amelia's sense of sorrow and her realization of what being an exhibit really means. That's not to say it's not still whimsical, it's just to say that the feelings of joy and magic at having an actual mermaid around begin to be overshadowed by fear as the outside world becomes more of a threat. That joy and magic comes back in the end, though, to give a final sense of peace and safety and a sudden return of love. While the romances weren't necessarily my favorite aspect of this book, I did like the easy, steady relationship between Amelia and Jack as well as the eventual relationship that developed between Amelia and Levi many years later. The two romances are very different, and Amelia receives different things out of each relationship. Her love of Jack served as her stepping stone into the human world, and because Jack had seen her first as this wild, free thing, he never tried to cage her or hold her too tight. On the other hand, Amelia's relationship with Levi is complicated not only by Amelia's grieving but by all the new things she's encountering in the heart of human civilization. Levi knows Amelia needs her freedom, but because she is surrounded by people who would take advantage of her, he chooses to be her protector even if he cannot win her heart. His dedication and his good heart eventually win Amelia over, and while their relationship is rocky, it's clear that they care for one another and that they truly want whats best for the other. Another review said that this book would be a hit with lovers of The Night Circus, and I think they were completely right. The Mermaid has that same sense of magic and impossibility, as well as the slow romance and the strong friendships. And like The Night Circus, this book has its fair share of tragedy and danger and drama that really serve to show that while some people welcome magic with open arms, others just aren't ready to believe in the impossible. Magic can only truly be seen by those who are willing to see it, and it's people like Levi, Charity, and Caroline who see the wonder and beauty in Amelia not just as a mermaid, but as someone they love. The Mermaid will make you yearn for that sort of wonder in your everyday life just as it will make you wonder: what if there are mermaids out there somewhere, watching and wondering and maybe wanting to be part of our world?

I was so excited to read this since I loved Christina Henry's Alice and I was not disappointed! I loved this story of Barnum's Feejee Mermaid and love how she became human and her interaction with other humans. Christina Henry is a great writer! The only problem I had was that 4 pages were blank in the middle of a few chapters.

For the whole time I was reading this I kept thinking to myself 'I like this book, but WHY do I like it?' Christina Henry's writing style is not one that I typically enjoy but it works so well here. It took some warming up to, I admit. It's is crisp and to the point. There's no flowerly or poetic descriptions here. The first chapter or two with Amelia and Jack are the sharpest and most blunt in their forms, so it reads like a fairytale or a fable. But after that it eases off and you come to enjoy the characters and their progressing storyline. Amelia, has to be one of my more favorite narrators with her stubborn charm and humorously feminist nature. She kept pointing out the absurdities or lack of respect in the way women were treated in this era. I couldn't help but feel her annoyance and yet still muse about how her perspective of being a creature-not-from-the-land made everything look so obviously nonsensical. I'm just a little disappointed in the last few chapters. The ending was great, but the chapters before that with her and Levi made me a bit annoyed. I had loved and rooted for Levi this whole time, but in those moments when we see them together I felt he had changed. I'm just asking why he fell in love with her and her stubbornness only to expect that she would then suddenly change? To change that would be to remove everything that she already is. Surely he knew what he was getting into? So I was just more frustrated than in love with them. It's such a small con, and yet it's what made me drop it from a favorite book to just a worth reading book. Which it is, in all honesty, one to recommend. It's perfect for anyone who needs just a little spit fire of bold, head strong female narrators.

I feel like I need to be in a particular mood for this book. It has such a strong voice that I actually hear the Fairy Tale Narrator (or maybe the one from Pushing Daisies?) as I read.

5 helms Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages ( "The fisherman loosed her and she dove back into the water the way a wild thing returns to a wild place, and he watched her go. But...his loneliness snaked into her, and she was sorry for it, for that loneliness caught her more surely than the net." An enchanting, fantastical take of P.T. Barnum’s Feejee mermaid hoax during the 19th century, this beautifully told story will touch your heart. A mermaid from the ocean longed to know more than her ocean home and her people. One day accidentally she becomes trapped in a fisherman's net but he set her free even though he was lonely and wanted her for himself. As she swam away, his oh so lonely eyes had captured her more firmly than his net ever could and she swam back to him. Onshore, she became Amelia, his wife and they lived many long, happy years on a cliff above the ocean until one day the fisherman did not return home. P.T Barnum was always looking for fantastical and unique attractions for his American Museum and a rumour of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea reached him and planted a seed that wouldn't leave him be. Amelia would make him rich if she was real after all! Striking a deal with P.T Barnum, Amelia believes she is free to leave any time she wants but when Barnum realises that Amelia is the real deal, his ticket to richness doesn't have as much freedom as she thought she did. This lovely fantasy tale is based on real-life events and this is Christina Henry's version of it. Her writing is poignant, heart-wrenchingly sad but beautiful all at once. I loved it! Ooh and look out for the awesome feminism that is tinged throughout this book as well! The mermaid kicks ass and shows other females how to as well! Easy to read, difficult to put down and will leave an impression on your heart :) I enjoyed every minute of my escapism from reality. Thank-you Christina Henry, First to Read & Berkley Books for the ARC.

I requested this one because I enjoyed Henry's Lost Boy; alas, I didn't enjoy The Mermaid nearly as much. It is a well-written book, but it just wasn't for me.

Christina Henry's historical fairy tale about P.T. Barnum and the "Feejee mermaid" is very entertaining and a fast read. Henry does a very good job of making the reader experience the challenges that Amelia faces, both as a mermaid and as a woman. The story is a well thought out portrayal of "the other" and the struggle to fit into a larger community. I would give this 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend to others.

3.75 stars Thank you to Penguins First to Read and Berkley for the chance to read and review this ARC. Publishes June 19, 2018. I would classify this novel as a fairy tale, but with a twist. I am not much of a fairy tale reader, nor of the newly written reconfiguration of fairy tales. However, I did enjoy this story. By adding in real life historical characters, the normal fairy tale of magic and happy ending bent, as though through a prism, adding a much different element to the story. A Mermaid caught and released. comes back to the fisherman. Years later, P. T. Barnum hears the rumor that a Mermaid lives on the coast in Maine. Levi Lyman is sent to persuade her to join the great American Museum in New York City. The Mermaid, Amelia, does consent, however on her own terms. In the novels' Afterword, the author concedes that she took liberties with the factual information that she added to her story ~~ " I found that ultimately it did not serve the story if I presented the precise (P. T.) Barnum in all his complicated glory. My Barnum is a character who shares some characteristics with the real Barnum, but he is not meant to be a true, historically accurate rendition of Barnum. He is the Barnum who suits my story." She also concedes she elaborated the facts about Levi Lyman, a true side kick of P. T. Barnum, who dealt with Barnum in reference to the Feejee Mermaid and Joice Heth, another hoax of the Barnum American Museum in New York City.

Even though this has a magical mermaid, it is the most realistic novel of Christina Henry's I've read. I loved her Chronicles of Alice duology and her origin story for Captain Hook. In this novel, Henry creates a fantasy narrative that posits what P.T. Barnum's Feejee Mermaid might have been like. Her P.T. Barnum character strays from the real man, but not so far, and the author admits, "He is the Barnum who suits my story." I felt that it was spot-on appropriate that The Mermaid's name in her own tongue translates to "breaking the surface of the sea," as this novel feels like it has more beneath the surface than Henry's prior novels. The Mermaid touches on themes of what it means to be a woman, humane behavior vs human nature, the price of curiosity, and how love changes us in ways that can't be undone.

I really enjoyed this re-telling of the 'Feejee Mermaid' in Barnum's Museum. What Henry does so well here is make Amelia a real mermaid and we never doubt her. I think that many other authors may have focused more on Barnum and his machinations, but Henry makes Amelia our point of view character (with a few glimpses into Barnum and Levi at times) and sweeps us away into her story. This becomes an exploration of what it means to be other. It discusses the dangers of fetishization with great clarity and emotional resonance and we are shown how difficult it is to be different. Similarly, Henry explores what it means to be a woman and I found this fascinating and really well done. Amelia is other, not only because she is a mermaid but also because she refuses to conform to the societal expectations placed upon women at the time. The historical setting is very well realised and the plot moves at a steady pace, giving us enough time to inhabit the world without ever feeling plodding. In fact, my only criticism is that I felt the ending was quite abrupt - I don't know whether this was just because I wanted to spend more time with the characters, but it was quite jarring. Nevertheless, this is a great book and I will definitely look for more Christina Henry novels in the future. I received a free copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I had never read anything from Christina Henry before, but after this, I will definitely be reading more of her work. I feel this is a loose retelling of the Little Mermaid story, more historical fiction and fantasy based, with topics that are still relatable today. Overall a great story that I would highly recommend.

The Mermaid by Christina Henry 5 stars “Freedom was far more intoxicating than safety could ever be.” The mermaid swam in the oceans and enjoyed her freedom. Then a fisherman’s net captured her and the eyes of sad and lonely Jack stuck with her. Thus, began her decision to go onto land and shift from the horrifying alien creature into a woman with gray eyes. The transformation is not easy and it comes at a price that nearly cripples the mermaid, but she crawls into the fisherman’s house and finds a home. The sea is cruel and it stole her husband away. “Still she loved him, and loved him more for she knew his heart, and after many, many years she found she loved him even more than the sea. And so the sea, who can be bitter and jealous herself, took Jack away— perhaps in hopes that Amelia would love her best again.” If this doesn’t immediately destroy your soul, then you have a heart of iron. This isn’t all to the story though. This is only the first chapter. Amelia’s story starts a decade later when Levi Lyman, a business partner of P.T. Barnum, arrives with the hopes of convincing Amelia to come to New York and be a part of Barnum’s museum of odd things. This story is based off the real incident of the Feejee mermaid that was exhibited in Barnum’s museum. Henry tackles the tale from the perspective of what if the Feejee mermaid was a very real mermaid? A mermaid who longed for a friend. Who was headstrong and refused to let anyone own her. A mermaid who saw all the injustices placed upon women to fit and mold them into the boxes that their husbands so desperately they desired they fall into. Henry takes liberties with Levi and Barnum, of course, they are depicted as the story is fit and not true to history. Henry uses this story to tackle a lot of important topics within feminism and her writing is absolutely captivating. One of my favorite parts of this novel is when Amelia reflects on the fact that Barnum is hanging up posters of a half-naked woman and it is nothing like what Amelia truly looks like. It’s great commentary on how she is outside the realm of objectification for human enjoyment and sexuality. I highlighted so many passages and cried within the first twenty pages. That wasn’t the only time I cried. I was emotionally attached to this story. I was mesmerized and overwhelmed by the beauty of the words and the horror of humanity. Whimsical Writing Scale: FLAWLESS “She came from the sea, and humans would always sense the strangeness in her even if they didn’t know why she made them shift uneasily, or why they didn’t want to spend too long looking directly into her eyes.” Amelia is a wonderful character to follow. She has no concept of societal standards and is put off by a lot of the things that people to do other people. It’s so wonderful to see a character who sees the world through eyes of confusion, but also a fierce desire to be close to humanity. She was strong and she spoke her mind even when it was deemed that she should be quiet. This isn’t a Little Mermaid retelling, but it does rely on the fabrication of Barnum that Amelia can’t speak and so when she is performing, she must remain silent. It removes her voice when she has one and it is quiet depressing, but also a fitting contrast to Charity, Barnum’s wife, and her own ability to speak, but the silence her husband forces upon her with scathing comments and uninterest. Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 5 “He had stardust in his eyes, and Amelia was sorry for it.” Levi is Amelia’s main love interest. I don’t particularly love Levi. In fact, I don’t think he’s all that and a bag of chips, but I did appreciate what he did for this story. He was sweet and he stood by his convictions through thick and thin (which is admirable even if it causes tension with Amelia). They were a lovely together because it was a gradual process. Amelia didn’t automatically love Levi. In fact, she pitied him. After a while, though his constant helpful and protective presence became a solace to her and she began to think that she could love again. I loved that message. I didn’t even care that Levi wasn’t all that interesting and he doesn’t have much development outside of greatly loving Amelia and feeling guilt over Barnum’s last stunt, but I loved the message that their love held. Swoon Worthy Scale: 4 The Villain- Barnum is probably the most obvious “villain” of this story. He’s pretty despicable and he does a lot of horrible things to his family and Amelia. I wasn’t a fan of him, but I think that’s what Henry was trying to convey with presenting a man so obsessed with owning things, particularly women, who could garner him great wealth and be used to his benefit. He was pretty much a representation of male dominance and privilege. Villain Scale: 5 “Until I became human, nobody ever told me there was something wrong with my body.” Charity and Caroline were absolute sweethearts. My heart broke when Charity didn’t accept Amelia because she thought she was lying about being a mermaid. When they became besties, it warmed my heart and made me happy because female friendship is the best. Caroline is also so sweet and the first interaction she has with Amelia absolutely stole my heart. They are wonderful and Charity as a character is an important image of what many women of the time period were dealing with when it came to being forced into fitting marriage standards. Character Scale: 5 “Humans often valued what they should not, she reflected, and most often they did not value what was right before their eyes.” I think this book is flawless. You probably will disagree, but honestly, I think many will enjoy this book. It has so many wonderful elements that make this magical story an important tale of loss, love, friendship, standing up for your personal rights, and never giving up hope. It’s a great novel and I’m so happy that it blew me away because I wasn’t expecting to love this when I requested it for review, but I’m so glad that I do. It’s always wonderful when I find a novel randomly and it becomes a new favorite. Plotastic Scale: 5 “Wild things ought to be free. They can’t belong to anybody, not really.” Cover Thoughts: I absolutely adore this cover. It’s stunning. *All quotes used in this review are from an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) and are subject to change upon publication. * Thank you, First to Read and Berkley, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

A mermaid gives up her tail for legs because she falls in love. We know the story. Then she is found by a man named PT Barnum, and the story becomes quite different... I love new takes on fairy tales and was excited to read this one. For the first half or so I wasn’t thrilled with it. I enjoyed the characters and related to Amelia, who was so confused by so much human silliness and expectations. The plot, however, seemed a bit slow and predictable. It certainly picked up, and while I assumed I knew what would happen I was actually delightfully surprised. I finished the book with tears in my eyes. I also appreciated a more nuanced take on Barnum than simply “he was a hero” vs “he was a fraud”. Highly enjoyable. 4/5 stars. *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

*Thank you to First to Read for a copy of this book! I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review* The Mermaid by Christina Henry is a delightful mix of historical fiction and fantasy! We are introduced to this curious mermaid who falls in love with a sailor. She lives with him by the sea and is free to return to the ocean anytime she wishes. She chooses the name Amelia and makes a wonderful life with her sailor named Jack. He grows older every day but she does not seem to age since mermaids age differently than humans. One day, Jack goes fishing and does not return. She then holds a bitterness towards the ocean and how it took away her love. Eventually, a man named Levi comes and makes an offer to join the American Museum run by none other, PT Barnum. She sees this as a chance to be among the humans and learn about them. However, she discovers that she is viewed as an animal and how quickly her freedom is stripped away. Be still my heart. I just closed this book 10 minutes ago. I could not put this book down. I am a huge fan of The Greatest Showman. This book, however, portrays a very different view of PT Barnum. Those who know history will see how this book leans more to his true personality. He was known for his humbugs and used them to just to make a quick buck. In this book, he is truly conniving and will say whatever he pleases to get his way. Amelia is a beautiful character. At first, she feels very distant. However, I love this because the author writes her as a stranger in the human world. She is constantly baffled at humans and it really points out how cruel humans can be. I felt truly heartbroken when she realizes she is no longer free and the loneliness she feels. However, she remains kind to everyone around her. Even though Barnum believes he owns her, she is still courageous and stands up for herself. I adore the love story between Amelia and Levi. I love it portrays how she learns to love after a loss and how he sees her as who she is and not some creature in a cage. However, my absolute favorite part is the friendship between Amelia and Charity, Barnum’s wife. They both are in a cage and learn to lean on each other. Their bond is so beautiful that it moved me to tears. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. Anyone who loves fantasy, mythology or history will absolutely love this book. The book will be released on June 19th by Berkley and I suggest that everyone go pick up this book or preorder it! I would love to see this as a movie or television series as well!

I have only read Christina Henry's retellings. But after reading all of them. I'm definitely interested in reading her urban fantasy! But that's so different from retellings! I liked this one very much. A bit of The Little Mermaid retelling but not quite. It's a story all on its own and it was delightful! I would've liked it to have been longer, I felt the ending was quite abrupt. She stayed at some parts much longer than others and I wanted more time on the "tour" before the ending. I felt it was a little rushed. This was not nearly as dark as her Alice retellings and her Peter Pan retelling. It was more fantastical and more hopeful. Loved it!

This book was everything I wanted it to be! 4.5/5 stars. It took me about 50 pages or so to get really invested in the story, but once I got past that I was hooked! Christina Henry never ceases to amaze me with her retellings. To be honest, I went into this story not knowing much except that it involved a mermaid. I was thinking it would be a Little Mermaid retelling. Boy was I surprised when I realized it was about P.T. Barnum! I loved it! I really like that she portrayed him truer to the real person than a movie that recently came out. She had me feeling so many feelings throughout this story; anger, frustration, sorrow, longing and happiness. I loved that Amelia had a very feminist portrayal in this historic setting. I was rooting for her the whole time! "You go girl!" And the ending! My heart just can't take it. It was so full by the end of this story. I seriously cannot wait to read anything Christina Henry puts out in the future. She is now an auto-buy author for me!

3.5 stars I was a little disappointed with this. It started promising because it had a Little Mermaid/Siren (tv show on Freeform) vibe going on but then as it progressed I didn't get the good feelings I did when I started it. It was a little slow going, repetitive, and I wasn't totally invested with the characters. Don't get me wrong, there was things I did like. I liked that it showed the prejudices of people towards looks like people never change. I liked Amelia never gave into what Barnum wanted her to do. She put her foot down and refused to give in. Now let's talk about Barnum. In the book he was money hungry, a jerk, and not really a good person. He had no problem exploiting people or creatures for his gain. He was a far cry from The Greatest Showman that I watched recently! Was this a love story? Yes, kinda. Others will tell you yes but I would tell you, eventually. Did I feel the love connection between these two characters? No I didn't. I read about this one guy's infatuation with Amelia and all about her first love that she lost. Pretty much it was all she thought and talked about until her feelings for this gentleman popped up abruptly (for me anyways). I did like his character for a while because he always wanted what was best and made sure things went how they were supposed to UNTIL a part in the book where he discredits Amelia's feelings when it comes to his religious beliefs. It just turned me off towards him because I hate when people think their beliefs trumps anyone else's. Also he became less of the likable guy and kinda became a jerk towards her. I guess he makes up for it at the very, very end of the book. That part I thought was cute. Overall, it was an okay book but it's not something I would read again.

The ocean has a rhythm, but it has no heart. This was leagues away from what I thought to expect of the author that wrote ALICE, a bizarre twisted dark ALICE IN WONDERLAND retelling. This wasn't dark or twisted or bizarre. It was instead just painfully sad. Mournfully bittersweet. Achingly tragic. "Do not mistake the revelation of my body for the revelation of my heart. My heart keeps its own secrets, and they don't belong to you or anyone else just because you've seen me with a fish tail." Like the story of THE LITTLE MERMAID, Henry's version introduces us to Amelia, a creature once caught in a fisherman's net, but who was instead set free, only for her to return to the man she feels connected to by a shared loneliness. She lives out her life on the coast of Maine, in a small town, until her husband is taken from her by the sea and she's left waiting, grieving, hoping for his return. Rumours swirl about the existence of an ageless witch, who is later said to be a mermaid, and those rumours reach the ears of PT Barnum who is looking for the perfect attraction to make his American Museum of curiosities a success. Belief was more dangerous than all the tale-telling in all the pubs of the world. Her own curiosity is what has her agreeing to perform for the ruthless man and in doing so she sees a little of the world, a world that once fascinated her for the unknowns, but during the course of her contract, she struggles with captivity, fanatics, human ideals, and love. I enjoyed this story but as mentioned I just felt.. sad. Basically the whole time. Between the setting in the late 1800s and all the oppression and restrictions on women, Amelia's own fluctuating class of person, thing, creature, animal, and how trapped she felt, this was not exactly a happy book. But it did have a happy ending, one I didn't expect, and that was a nice surprise. I loved the parallels to the origin story but I liked the differences more and that alone made this read worth it.

The grass is always greener on the other side, particularly when the other side is the only one with grass. In Christina Henry's The Mermaid Amelia is interested to see what the land and its creatures has to offer in contrast to what she knows of the ocean. From her deep desires to experience life beyond her people and the ocean she knows, Amelia embarks on a new journey on land with the fisherman who captured and released her. Years after her beloved fisherman's death, rumors about Amelia's origin circulate and catch the attention of P. T. Barnum, who's always looking for attractions to add to his American Museum. After some deliberation and negotiation, Amelia agrees to become part of his show as a means of being able to see more of the world. Being part of the show, Amelia soon learns more of the depths that humans are willing to go to prove a point or maintain control over something. A quickly-moving story, the life of an assertive, strong-willed mermaid navigating the terrain of human experience was entertaining. The story works to depict the solitary nature of the "other" and makes the experiences and lessons learned more universal while using the overlay of a mythical creature. The inclusion of historical figures like P. T. Barnum helped to place the temporal setting of the story and offer an element of immediate atmosphere for the narrative. One thing that greatly irked me was Levi's role as a husband because it felt a bit at odds with his previous thoughts and actions of acceptance of Amelia as she was as a free, unownable, uncontrollable being. Although the ARC file I received through First to Read had a few random pages missing throughout the text, it luckily didn't prevent my overall understanding or enjoyment of what was presented. Overall, I'd give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

I loved this book! I can't believe I've never read this author before. It is a beautiful story that combines history with topics that are just as relevant today. All blended into a sort of fairy tale. A real mermaid decides to be part of PT Barnum's museum. She learns that life on land is not as magical as she thought it might be. The story flows nicely and was a very quick read. Highly recommend. I plan to read more by Christina Henry now.

I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. It wasn't exactly the fairy tale or love story I was expecting. Those aspects seem secondary to what was really a book about the life of a woman trying to find her place in a world that was foreign to her and dealing with love and loss.

Somehow, this book just didn't capture me- I never grew to care about the characters enough to be completely engaged. The book tells the story of a mermaid, eventually given the name Amelia, who is caught by a fisherman named Jack, released, and then, because of that release, drawn to Jack. But mostly, the story is about Amelia's desire to explore the land- but she needs money. To get that money, she agrees to be an exhibit in P.T. Barnum's museum. As someone who recently watched and loved The Greatest Showman, this portrayal of Barnum was almost devastating. It highlights only his selfishness and his avarice, and what those qualities cost the people around him. The language and tone of the book is a bit fairytale/fable-like, and what I find about books written in this way is that the character development is a bit lacking, and I never get that attached to the characters. I think that is why I didn't love the book. Thanks to Penguin's First to Read program for the ARC.

Saccharine and simple, The Mermaid is a lovely summer read. We all know this fairly predictable mermaid myth. A sea maiden is caught by a sailor, falls in love with the land and abandons her tail for two feet. Though The Mermaid follows this same formula, Christina Henry gives us enough unique turns to make this novel hold its own among the recent influx of mermaid fiction. Amelia is more a wild thing of the ocean than a stereotypical half-fish-half-maiden. She clings to love and land, but when her sailor husband disappears on his boat many years into their marriage, she feels haunted by his loss. She waits for his return for a century before an emissary of Barnum's American Museum (yes, that same historical figure of circus fame) brings her back to perform as Barnum's Mermaid. Amelia joins the circus as an opportunity to see the world and earn an income to support her land excursions, but is soon overwhelmed by the pitfalls of freak show fame. The tone of the novel is much like a lost chapter of Andersen's The Little Mermaid. It's sweet, straightforward, and never deceives. Barnum is handled as a type of capitalistic villain as the author stretches his biography to meet her needs, but it works well as an antithesis to freedom-loving Amelia. Her new beau and Barnum's right-hand-man Levi Lyman leaves much to be desired as a modern male heartthrob--he's dull, passive, unremarkable, but devoted. Overall, I liked Henry's The Mermaid for a lighthearted summer read. It's compulsively readable and easy to smile through. Expected publication date, June 19th. Want more Barnum? I (unintentionally) planned my read of The Mermaid to come after watching Hugh Jackman's portrayal of Barnum in the recent musical The Greatest Showman. After watching Hugh's many-layered portrayal of Barnum, imagining him as The Mermaid's conniving villain was hilarious. In my head, Barnum wasn't the portly, piggish jerk that Christina Henry wrote, but just a really grumpy Hugh Jackman. That might be why I was still a fan of his character, whenever he showed up to throw a wrench in the plot. My inner child won't exactly miss the circus (animal rights issues aside, the circus was always a terrifying cesspool of crowds and bad smells) but I'm glad the mythos will live on in Hollywood and literature. Thanks to Penguin's First to Read for the ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you Penguin Random House for the free copy of this book - all opinions are my own. The Mermaid is an absolutely breathtaking take on an adult-version fairytale. Mesmerizing, absorbing and utterly delightful, I adored every single page of this book. Amelia is a real-life mermaid, who lives between land and sea. Only when Amelia agrees to join P. T. Barnum's museum sideshow will she learn how horrific mankind can truly be. There is so much that could be said about how wonderful this story is - beginning with how gorgeously it is rooted in true storytelling. This is one of those rare books that will sweep in and steal your heart entirely, leaving me more than a little disappointed that I have yet to meet a real mermaid in this life. This has quickly become a top recommendation for summer must reads for me - I cannot wait to share the magic of this book with everyone I can.

The magic of the mermaid was really just a background to the struggle of woman fighting for her place in the world. The story was well written and brought up some interesting points about who is right and who is wrong when it comes to the treatment of people and animals. It was a quick and sub read even with the social commentary.

What a lovely, surprising story this was! I quite enjoyed Christina Henry's rather sparse writing style - it suited Amelia's personality perfectly. I have had trouble with her books in the past; the writing doesn't always appeal to me/hold my interest. That was absolutely not the case here - from the first pages, I was drawn into the story and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. I enjoyed the fictionalized Barnum also - he was a great foil to Amelia, and their interplay was very well managed. The supporting cast (Charity and Levi, primarily) was also very well crafted and they added a great deal of depth and breadth to this fascinating story...

I thought that this was a pretty good book. I am enthralled with circus memorabilia and loved that this story tied into P.T. Barnum's as well. I liked that there was a definite hint of magic, however the story did remain fairly grounded. This is the second book I have read by this author and I greatly look forward to more.

This is a lovely story unlike any other mermaid story I've read. It pits the complex and money-hungry world of P.T. Barnum against a lonely life a mermaid shares after she gives up the sea for a life on the land after her true love dies. Compelling and sad, with a touch of magic and several strong female characters.

This was a fantastic fairy tale retelling! I went into this having never read anything by this offer, and now I want to find everything she has ever written. What a treat!

This is a grownup version of The Little Mermaid, with a happier ending than the Anderson story, but it is as dark as the original in some of its parts. I think we are all intrigued at the idea of the existence of mere-people, and this story caters to that curiosity and how we, as people, react to the fantastic. The story happens in the past, before the US Civil War. The plot is basic, dissatisfied with the ocean, the mermaid decides to walk the land to see all the wonders of the world. Only that she spends many years in a small town in the north of Main, and when she finally goes to New York is to become part of an exhibition in a museum of wonders. The exhibition becomes itinerant and they go to the South, were her existence is not well received and she needs to flee. I liked the story, it was well narrated and it kept me interested. I didn't like all the characters, but they reflected really well a period of history where women were less, animals were belongings, and conmen like PT Barnum (who was a real person) had museums of curious things, with things like mermaids.

Christina Henry has done it again! Effortless writing, great story telling and characters you can connect with. This was such a wonderful read and I cannot wait for her next book!

I've always loved fairytales, so I was very excited when I saw Christina Henry's The Mermaid. I love retellings of old stories; no one experiences the same stories the same way, so I'm always curious to hear other people's versions of stories. And the cover is beautiful. For most of the book, until the last chapter, it felt like a hazy recall of distant memories. While I empathized greatly with most of the characters, I still felt there was a distance between the characters and myself as the reader. I also feel like we were primed to dislike P.T. Barnum, and the book did nothing to change that, didn't add depth to his character. I loved the balance between historical fiction/fairytale and contemporary issues. It makes you think of the old adage, "history repeats itself." Would definitely recommend it!

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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