By Christina Henry
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 marvellous attractions for his American Museum, and he’d heard a rumour 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.
This is the first Christina Henry book I have read, I was recommended this book by quite a few of my friends, who told me her re-tellings where dark and unique. I ended up being pretty disappointed with this book, I didn’t feel like it was dark or unique at all. I felt like there was no momentum to the story I wanted more to happen or for it to take a strange twist but it just felt placid. I was imagining that it would be more “Tim Burton” or “Neil Gaiman” but I could literally tell this story to children.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked the story and read the whole book, but it has put me off reading more of her “dark” retellings. I have heard that Pan is amazing but I was told this book was amazing too. It’s not a bad book, it is just slow and never gave me the magical exciting feel that I was expecting.
I did however like the themes and ideas in the book. How Amelia (The Mermaid) ended up being treated like a whale in seaworld by P.T Barnum. He basically treated her like she was an animal in a zoo, yet she was more human than animal, she could talk, walk, debate and discuss. Levi warned her that her life would end up like this, that she would just be caged up and exploited but Amelia didn’t listen. I don’t understand why she stayed with Barnum. Money meant nothing to her really, she was sad, angry and upset, she hated being glared at like a monkey in a zoo. I just didn’t quite get why she continued to be exploited. I wanted her to take revenge and get her own back at Barnum.
There was only one thing why I thought Amelia stayed in the museum and that was loneliness. After her husband Jack died she was all on her own, and she had only lived in the small town in Maine, she wanted to see more of the world and probably interact with more people. Which made sense. But as soon as she becomes famous she is even more isolated than she was on the cliff top in Maine. She basically turns into an A-list celebrity. She can’t leave the building without being mobbed, everyone knew who she was, reporters kept following her. This ended up being loneliness as well as her freedom was taken away from her.
If I was Amelia I would never have gone to the museum, I would of swam around the world going on adventures in different countries and never letting anyone know I was a mermaid. But that’s not the story.
This book just made me quite sad, I wanted Amelia to kick ass and fight back to Barnum. But she just seemed to be sucked into his weird and “wonderful” world of exploitation and money. She did stand up to Barnum more than his wife or Levi ever did but it didn’t feel like enough. I wanted more action or something to go weird, creepy etc. It was a nice romance story but nothing more. A real shame as I had such high hopes for it.
Have you read The Mermaid, or anything else by Christina Henry? What where your thoughts? Let me know I would love to chat. Katie x