Author ~ Julia Ember
Publisher ~ Duet an imprint of Interlude Press
Published ~ 4th May 2017
Genre ~ Fairy Tale, F/F Romance, YA
Having long wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the merfolk’s fortress. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: Say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.
Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from the divine Loki. But such deals are never straightforward, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.
I almost didn’t want to like this book. The way it was presented irked me, but it is a re-telling (or rather a re-imagining) of The Little Mermaid, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m very glad I did.
It was not, as I had feared, a preachy book, or in any way a political one. It made its point while not thrusting it in your face. I’ll leave you to work out that point for yourselves.
The story itself loosely follows The Little Mermaid – kind of. There’s this mermaid, who doesn’t like the king’s rule and wants to be free, who has a fascination about humans and human things. She has a collection, but she doesn’t really know what they’re for. She’s horrified when she learns about a horseshoe. Nailing a shoe to someone’s foot?!
Ursula makes an appearance – oh wait, no. A bloated sea creature with many tentacles makes an appearance. It’s not Ursula though. The real baddie in this one in none other than Loki, the trickster. I don’t know what else they were expecting really.
Voices were lost, legs gained, mermaids freed and there was this gorgeous Viking cum pirate queen with a moving map tattooed on her body. Oh, hang on, that wasn’t in the original. But oh boy was Ragna in this one. She dominated it, small as she was and I LOVED her!
For all the similarities and nice touches this book wasn’t very much like The Little Mermaid at all. However, it was a bloody good book. The story was fresh and exciting, the characters unique and very well drawn, and the excitement just enough to keep me on the edge of my seat without going overboard (pun intended).
I have a few little niggles, but I’ve read very few books (including “the greats”) where I haven’t. They’re not worth talking about.
This is a great book with almost all the boxes ticked and I would heartily recommend it to anyone who liked The Little Mermaid, anyone who didn’t like it, and anyone who hasn’t read/watched it. Disney’s The Little Mermaid was a huge favourite in my house when my children were little and this is nothing like it but it doesn’t try to be. It tells its own story and it tells it well.
Meet Julia Ember
Julia Ember is a polyamorous, bisexual writer and native of Chicago who now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Seafarer’s Kiss is her second novel and was influenced by her postgraduate work in medieval literature at The University of St. Andrews. Her first novel, Unicorn Tracks was published by Harmony Ink Press.