Books Like The Little Mermaid
Although everyone associates The Little Mermaid with Disney these days, the original fairy tale was actually written by the Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen. His version is also decidedly darker than the Disney interpretation. It is the story of a young mermaid who lives underwater with her father and five older sisters while yearning to glimpse the surface world. When she is finally old enough to rise to the surface, she falls in love with a handsome prince who she sees celebrating his birthday on a ship. She ends up saving the princess from drowning when a storm capsizes the ship, but this makes her even more determined to join him on the surface. Her only hope of doing so giving her voice to the sea witch in exchange for a potion that grants her legs. Unfortunately, she does not end up winning the heart of the prince, but because of her selfless actions, she becomes a daughter of the air upon her death. If you love the original story and can't wait for the live adaptation of the Disney version, here are a few books like The Little Mermaid to read in the meantime.
by Alexandra Christo
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexanra Christo is a very interesting take on the original story of The Little Mermaid as it turns the entire tale on its head. Instead of a mermaid who yearns to live in the surface world and marry a prince, it's about a siren named Lira who abhors humans and lives to collect the hearts of princes. With seventeen hearts in her collection, Lira is revered across the sea, until one day when she has no choice, but to kill one of her own. The Sea Queen punishes her for this transgression by turning her into a human and instructing her to deliver the heart of Prince Elian, who is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Failure to do so before the winter solstice will trap Lira in human form forever. However, Eilian is no ordinary prince as he sees hunting sirens as his calling. Then, he finds a drowning woman in the ocean and both their lives are changed forever.
by Jackson Pearce
Fathomless by Jackson Pearce is another modern-day retelling of the classic fairy-tale and it also focuses more on the dark side of the story. The protagonist is a shy girl, named Celia, who has the "ability" to see the past. She is the youngest triplet and has always felt like she lives in the shadow of her older sisters who have the much more interesting abilities to see the present and the future. Then, Celia has an encounter with a mysterious girl from the sea, named Lo, and the two of them save a handsome musician, named Jude, from drowning. Both Celia and Lo fall in love with Jude, but things take a darker turn when they discover what is at stake. Lo is a mermaid and if she ever wants to regain her humanity, she will have to make a mortal fall in love with her before stealing his soul.
by Sarah Henning
If you are a fan of The Little Mermaid, but always wanted to know a little more about the sea witch and her motivations, then this novel by Sarah Henning should not be missed. It is set in a coastal fishing town of 19th century Denmark, where the protagonist, Evie, lives. Evie is heartbroken after her best friend, Anna, dies, but then she encounters a girl on the shore who looks remarkably like her deceased friend. However, she soon discovers that her new friend holds a dark secret and requires Evie's help to retain her legs and live on the land. Evie has some special powers of her own that she has been hiding from the world, but helping her new friend comes with a far greater cost than what she ever expected.
by Louise O'Neill
Readers in search of a more feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid will enjoy The Surface Breaks by Louise O'Neill. It is the story of Gaia, a young mermaid who endures the oppressive rule of her father, the Sea King, while dreaming of the freedom that the surface world could provide. However, despite falling in love with a boy named Oliver, who she rescues from drowning, her father plans on forcing her to marry Zale, a much older merman. This prompts Gaia to seek out the aid of the Sea Witch in the Shadowlands, who is her only hope of escape. Gaia pays a big price in return for legs, but all will be in vain if she can't make Oliver fall in love with her within one month. Unfortunately, Gaia discovers that human males are not that much different from mermen when it comes to their treatment of women.
by Carolyn Turgeon
Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon is a unique retelling of The Little Mermaid, and manages to approach the well-known tale from a fresh new perspective. It is the story of Lenia, the mermaid who rescues a prince named Christopher from drowning and Margrethe, who is a princess from a rival kingdom. Margrethe is hiding in a convent to escape the war that is raging between her kingdom and that of Christopher when she sees the rescue. While Lenia falls in love with the prince and is willing to sacrifice everything to be with him, Margrethe believes that if she marries Christopher, she would be able to end the war and unite the two kingdoms. There is only one small problem, Christopher is already in love with Lenia, which causes Margrethe to set a desperate plan in motion to get rid of her rival for the sake of her kingdom.