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The Mermaid by Christina Henry

Christina Henry continues her series of fairytale-inspired retellings with The Mermaid, the grown-up version of The Little Mermaid for cynical adults.

Title: The Mermaid
Author: Christina Henry
Publish Date: June 19th, 2018 by Berkley
Genre: Historical fantasy
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionOnce 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 marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he’d heard a rumor 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.

Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time 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.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

The Mermaid is a grittier, and probably more accurate, tale of the famous P.T. Barnum than The Greatest Showman, though he isn’t the main protagonist. The central character is Amelia, a mermaid whose curiosity drove her to land. The first part of her life on land is somewhat idyllic. But the later part is full of heartache.

I am absolutely in love with Henry’s retellings of Alice in Wonderland (Alice and The Red Queen). So I expected a lot from The Mermaid. But, while it was a good story and a great audio performance, the story wasn’t quite as dazzling for me. Amelia, the mermaid, gets screwed over by men, and is even somewhat complicit in her own screwing over, though she finds her own strength in the end. I think it’s just not quite as novel a story as Alice — a woman getting screwed over by men is an all-too-familiar story these days.

In Alice, I also enjoyed seeing all the elements of the original story that Henry reinterpreted in her grittier version. That part was missing in The Mermaid, though not through any fault of Henry’s. I haven’t read the original H.C. Anderson version of The Little Mermaid, so if there were reinterpretations, I wasn’t aware of them. But I suspect there aren’t as many quirky characters and images as in Carroll’s tale.

Despite those subjective observations, there is nothing bad about the book. The story is well-written and interesting. The characters are believable and sympathetic. I’d recommend it to fans of The Greatest Showman who want a better taste of what P.T. Barnum was really like.

Jackaby by William Ritter

If you dropped Sherlock Holmes into an urban fantasy setting, you’d get something like Jackaby.

Title: Jackaby
Author: William Ritter
Series: Jackaby, Book 01
Publish Date: September 16th, 2014 by Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Historical urban fantasy
NarratorNicola Barber
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionNewly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

Mixing Sherlock Holmes with a female Watson and magic in an urban fantasy setting made for a fun story.

Jackaby is a competent, somewhat arrogant, socially-awkward scholar of magic. He can see supernatural creatures and forces others can’t.  Therefore, he has access to more information about the world, much like his counter-part, Sherlock Holmes, has because of his powers of observation. Jackaby fancies himself a detective on cases that involve the supernatural.

His Watson, Miss Abigail Rook, is a young female interested not in frocks and parties and marriage, but in having adventures and being independent. She forces her way into Jackaby’s investigations, and they make a good pair since Abigail can’t see magic and brings some grounded reality to the investigations.

I particularly enjoyed some of the secondary characters–the ghost and the duck, especially. The running joke about staring at the toad was cute as well.

As for the mystery, it was very interesting. However, this book did the one thing in mysteries that really bothers me. The mystery is solved by happenstance, not through any effort on the part of the detectives. I find this disappointing as it makes all their efforts to understand the case irrelevant.

Overall, the story is cute. The narrator does a good job of bringing the characters to life. It might be just about right as a young adult series, as it’s marketed. It’s not going to be on my must-read list, but I might eventually continue with the rest of the book in the series as long as the cases are actually solved by the protagonists.

Nell’s Gossip and Book Hunt 5/12/19

Welcome to my Sunday book hunt and author gossip.  Keep coming back for updates on book releases and news from favorite authors.

Back with new releases again… they keep writin’ them, we keep readin’ them.

  • I have been a fan of Rob Blackwell for years. My favorite books of his are the Soren Chase series.  I have news that he’s starting a new series starting Jules Castle.  Read the description, check out the cover.  Both will catch you hook, line and sinker.

Title: Riders on the Storm
Author: Rob Blackwell
Series: Jules Castle #1
Release date: May 21, 2019
Description: Dakota Territory, 1883: A land of violence, lawlessness—and vicious monsters.

Jules Castle can outsmart, outgun, and outrun any bandit in the Old West. But will her legendary skills be enough to save her?
Three years ago, Jules’ outlaw father vanished during a mysterious mission. Since then, she’s kept up the family business, robbing banks and chasing clues to his whereabouts across the Territory. Unfortunately, his trail sets her right in the path of supernatural, hard-to-kill creatures known as Vipers, whose bite will transform anyone into one of their kind.
Jules is determined to save her father, no matter the peril or cost. With the help of a bounty hunter and her adopted sister Miranda, she will have to pull off an impossible rescue. Hounded by former members of her father’s gang, hunted by a U.S. Army posse, and pursued by Vipers, Jules’ chances are slim. Can she beat the odds one last time?
  • Here’s another awesome cover and description that hooked me.

Title Reaper Witch: Wolves and Zombies
Author: Chanda Stafford
Series: Urban Magic #1
Release date: May 10, 2019
Description: She spent years avoiding the dead. Now they’re coming after her.
Three years ago, Max Norton left home to open a tea leaves and tarot shop. It seemed like a good trade: escape the King of Hell and live a low-key life free from scrutiny and death threats. For a Scythe, a half-human paranormal entity who can open literal portals to Heaven and Hell, and who’s hounded by creatures both light and dark, it’s a dream come true. Until an annoyingly handsome ghost shows up and demands that Max help him solve his murder.

She wants nothing to do with it, but when zombies start attacking children and demons are sent to kill her, she knows this is one fight she can no longer avoid. Her ex-boyfriend, a charismatic wolf shifter, tells her about a dead zone in the forest where a necromancer is practicing black magic.

The only way to stop him is with the forbidden powers she ran away from; powers that will put a target on her back, because they mark her for a destined role in Hell she has no intention of fulfilling.

Saving the world from the zombie apocalypse may literally mean challenging the armies of Hell and facing the past she ran away from. With time running out, Max and Luke have to figure out who’s raising the dead and turning them into bloodthirsty monsters before they kill the few people left that she actually cares about. Hiding in the shadows, a mysterious enemy holds a secret that could change Max’s life forever…

Assuming she lives long enough to hear it.

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