“The Little Mermaid” gets a bright and wicked twist in Julia Ember’s enthralling new novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss. With a dash of Norse mythology and a delightful take on mermaids, this story excels in more ways than one. The merworld is as harsh as the arctic environment the merfolk inhabit, and Ember’s writing brings it to life.
Ersel is a charming heroine with a strong voice, even if she doesn’t know it. She provides a colorful and, at times, sad view into her underwater world and it isn’t hard to care about her and her story. Her struggle to fit in and her desire for something more are both relatable and explored in ways that not only advance the story, but her character growth as well. Her relationship with Ragna may unfold too quickly for some readers, but their chemistry is endearing and palpable nonetheless. However, the scene where they hit each other in bursts of anger is off-putting, as many other readers have pointed out. Luckily, it’s the only negative element of the story.
The Seafarer’s Kiss is everything I hoped it would be and more, and is one of the best retellings of “The Little Mermaid” I have read. Unique and clever, this imaginative tale is a must-read!