For those of you that don’t know the true story of the little mermaid, that is Hans Christian Andersen’s original story, you will probably be very shocked by Drown. Drown is a Little Mermaid re-telling but not the kind that involves singing crabs and fishy friends. Drown is the dark tale of a little mermaid and the sacrifices she makes for the human prince that she is in love with. This story takes us back to the origins of the mermaids and how they came to be.
I always get very excited about fairy-tale retellings and Drown was no different. As soon as I read the synopsis of this story, I was excited for a darker retelling of my favourite Disney movie and Dalseno’s tale does not disappoint. The author has created a unique backstory to this troubling tale. In this world, mermaids have hearts that do not beat and they do not feel emotions. The royal mermaids gorge themselves on lavish food each day, whilst many others in the kingdom struggle to survive. They are the vainest creatures on earth, constantly looking in the mirror and thinking that they are each the most beautiful. That is, apart from the youngest mermaid princess.
She’s always known that she’s a little different to her sisters, her face occasionally betraying emotions that mermaids supposedly do not have anymore. When she takes a trip to the surface of the ocean she is enchanted by the human world, but mostly a human prince, and upon her return she makes a deal with the dreaded sea witch and trades her fins for legs – at a steep price.
Whilst Drown is full of interesting characters, there were not many that I really connected with to begin with. The little mermaid herself is a peculiar character and I was never sure whether I admired her for sacrificing so much for what she truly wanted, or wanted to shake her for giving everything up without any guarantee of happiness. Towards the end of the story when there are a few twists and turns in quick succession and the whole story becomes a lot clearer.
At this point you finally understand a lot of characters’ true personalities and you start rooting for them as the story races towards the finish line. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding a lot of characters which keeps you on your toes throughout and forces you to continue reading. At no point in this book did I feel sure of what the outcome would be and even 5 pages before the end of this story there are still several possible outcomes.
The little mermaid and the prince are not the only characters of interest in this novel. There’s also the prince’s uncle, the other mermaid sisters, the King mermaid etc. All these characters have some sort of story or background that adds to the story and I’m impressed by Dalseno’s ability to include these extra details without detracting from the main storyline in any way. She has seamlessly integrated lots of other stories into this novel to give the reader a really wide view of the mermaid kingdom and the universe that she’s created in Drown.
I sped through this book over the weekend and found it to be an incredibly intriguing and unique read. Dalseno takes a well-known and well-loved Disney tale and creates something darker, much closer to the original tale, that will have you tearing through the pages. It’s almost as if Dalseno has given the emotions of the heartless mermaids to the readers of her book as you find yourself feeling happiness, sadness, excitement, love and heartbreak in this story.
Don’t pick this up thinking that this is going to be a fluffy fairytale because it is far from it. What sacrifices does the little mermaid make to be with her prince? Does she even end up with the prince in the end? These are all questions that you will find yourself asking as you read. This story is both haunting and beautiful – a strange combination that hooks you from the very first page. All in all, I’d highly recommend Drown to any fans of the little mermaid, who will no doubt be mesmerised by this new take on the classic story. The writing is beautiful, the story is unique and I guarantee you won’t have read anything like this before!
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