Two weeks ago, I wrote about a ‘trend’ in Hollywood. There are (at least) five upcoming films about real life serial killers. And now, I’ve found a new trend in the Young Adult book world. No, it’s got absolutely nothing to do with unstable white men. It’s not even about something real. Right now, mermaids and sirens are hot when it comes to YA. There are a lot of books out or almost out that feature these intriguing sea creatures. Let’s take a look at some of these titles.
Language of Thorns
OK, so this isn’t an entire mermaid novel. Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo is a collection of fairy tales. The longest (and last) story, When Water Sang Fire, is about the mermaids Ulla and Signy. They have strong magical powers. But will they use these for good or for something else? When Water Sang Fire is a retelling/origin story based on The Little Mermaid. The illustrations alone are reason enough to read Language of Thorns, but this epic story deserves al the praise. Though, it was a bit on the long side. Here’s what I had to say about it in my review:
Obviously, the source for When Water Sang Fire is The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson (and not the Disney version but the rougher true story). Bardugo says to herself in the authors note that his story was ‘a point of departure’. This is by far the longest of the six stories and for me it felt a bit too long. There are certain points that could have been left out. But I’m far from complaining as this again was another great fairytale about fearsome creatures.
And here is a beautiful quote from the story itself:
‘Magic doesn’t require beauty,’ she said. ‘Easy magic is pretty. Great magic asks that you trouble the waters. It requires a disruption, something new.’
To Kill a Kingdom
Ingrid actually reviewed To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo yesterday. Here’s what she had to say about this standalone book about sirens:
I have seen some reviews claim that this is a retelling of The Little Mermaid. First of all, that would not do the novel any justice. There are mermaids involved, but those are not really the Ariel kind. Deadly sirens are the main attraction in this novel and while Lira has to give up her song, while Ariel gives up her voice, the similarities end there. To Kill A Kingdom is a unique story in that respect. More importantly, the story doesn’t try to be a retelling. There is great world-building, and the story is well executed. I honestly enjoyed every single word I read.
And Ingrid’s not alone in her opinion. To Kill a Kingdom is getting overall high praise. The book currently holds a 4.07 rating on Goodreads. That’s pretty impressive considering this is a debut novel. To Kill a Kingdom is definitely on my TBR list. I like the setting and I love that this is a standalone. Now all I have to do is buy it and find the time to read it.
The Wicked Deep
From here on, the rest of these books weren’t (yet) reviewed by us. The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw has the following summary on Goodreads:
Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…
Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.
Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.
Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.
Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.
But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.
I’m not sure yet if I’ll read this book. On the one hand, the setting looks promising but on the other hand, this sounds all a bit predictable. Even the blurb is full of tropes: the special girl, the stranger in town, the creepy town with even creepier backstory… Still, it’s a mix between witches and sirens and that sounds pretty promising. I’ll keep this on my radar but for now I’m giving it a ‘not sure yet’ mark.
The Surface Breaks
Oh my. Just look at that cover. I thought Language of Thorns would win this cover contest without a doubt, but I think The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill is getting the prettiest cover award. And not only the cover is cool as ice. I mean, just take a look at the summary, courtesy of Goodreads:
Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.
Doesn’t that sound compelling? Although, it’s going to be very hard to beat the original story, or even When Water Sang Fire. Still, this proves mermaids (and The Little Mermaid in particular) are a hot topic. The book doesn’t have a lot of reviews yet on Goodreads (274) which makes the rating a bit crooked perhaps; but still, it’s a 4.06 rating which puts it right next to To Kill A Kingdom. Also, it’s a standalone with just over 300 pages so what’s not to like? The Surface Breaks is definitely high on my wishlist.
Daughter of the Siren Queen
Daughter of the Siren Queen is actually part two in the Daughter of the Pirate King series by Tricia Levenseller. I haven’t read the first book so I can’t really say anything useful about that. This is the blurb for the first book, from Goodreads:
Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.
More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.
Which takes us to Daughter of the Siren Queen:
Alosa’s mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he’s under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father’s justice.
When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.
I don’t think these are the books for me, as I currently don’t really like reading (unfinished) series. Also, sorry, pirates aren’t my thing in books. I like pirate films but brrr matey, I like to keep them on the screen and not on my pages. So even though these books sound like a lot of fun, I think I’ll pass.
Books about mermaids and sirens
Have you read any of these five books about mermaids and sirens? What did you think? Leave a comment with your opinion on either five of these YA novels. Also, if you have any suggestions about other great mermaid/siren books, we’d love to know! For now, we’re keeping an eye out for more books with sea creatures in them. Right next to faeries, mermaids might just be the next big thing.