Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Mermaid

Rate this book
From the author of Lost Boy comes a historical fairy tale about a mermaid who leaves the sea for love and later finds herself in P.T. Barnum's American Museum as the real Fiji mermaid. However, leaving the museum may be harder than leaving the sea ever was.

Once 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.

325 pages, Paperback

First published June 19, 2018

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Christina Henry

44 books6,416 followers
Christina Henry is a horror and dark fantasy author whose works include GOOD GIRLS DON'T DIE, HORSEMAN, NEAR THE BONE, THE GHOST TREE, LOOKING GLASS, THE GIRL IN RED, THE MERMAID, LOST BOY, RED QUEEN, ALICE, and the seven book urban fantasy BLACK WINGS series.

Her short stories have been featured in the anthologies CURSED, TWICE CURSED, GIVING THE DEVIL HIS DUE and KICKING IT.

She enjoys running long distances, reading anything she can get her hands on and watching movies with samurai, zombies and/or subtitles in her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

You can visit her on the web at
Facebook: authorChristinaHenry
Twitter: @C_Henry_Author
Instagram: authorChristinaHenry
Goodreads: goodreads.com/CHenryAuthor

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,551 (19%)
4 stars
3,070 (38%)
3 stars
2,616 (32%)
2 stars
649 (8%)
1 star
129 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,309 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
December 10, 2020
4.5 stars
The fisherman loosed her and she dove back into the water the way a wild thing returns to a wild place, and he watched her go.


But...his loneliness snaked into her, and she was sorry for it, for that loneliness caught her more surely than the net.
Amelia - a young, restless mermaid - spent her entire life in the ocean with her family. Yet, despite the security and safety the deep ocean offered, she couldn't stand it.

So, she swam off to discover the mysteries of this world...only to be caught by a fisherman. Terrified and helpless, she thrashes and struggles as she's hauled to the surface.

Yet, he immediately sets her free.

The kind fisherman, Jack, knew a thing or two about magic...
He knew he would never see her again, and in his on practical way thought at leas he'd seen her one time. That was more than most fishermen. He'd touched magic, and he should not want for more.
And so, puzzling over this odd human, she swam back to his little fisherman's house and joined him there. They spent many long and happy years together.

Decades later, as she mourns her true love, she decides to seek another adventure. However, this time the adventure came right up to her doorstep - in the form of P. T. Barnum and his museum of oddities.

He wants to hire a mermaid and she wants to see the world. It's a match.

Barnum soon realizes that the mermaid is the real deal and sets his greed and keen mind to work...

Amelia soon realizes that her plans to discover the world are about to be put on hold in a completely unexpected way...

The beginning of this one is simply enchanting - the dynamic between Amelia and her fisherman felt so natural and easy. Every line Christina Henry wrote just had this magical, ethereal quality.
She loved him almost as much as she loved the sea, and so they were well matched, for he loved the sea almost as much as he loved her.
The book almost felt like two separate stories - especially considering the striking difference between the love story set in a sleepy seaside town and the wild and bustling 1840s New York.

I did slightly prefer the first half of the book (what can I say? I'm a sucker for the first love of any character).

That being said, the second half was still riveting. I really appreciated how Henry seamlessly wove the mermaid mythology into everyday city life. She made it feel like this could actually happen - that a wayward mermaid could wander into New York and start a life for herself.

This is truly one of those stories that makes you wonder...what if?

With many, many thanks to Berkley Publishing and the author for a free arc in exchange for an honest review.

All quotes are from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publishing.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,574 reviews5,904 followers
June 25, 2018
2.5 stars

So this is my first Christina Henry book. I knew that she was getting known to be fantastic at her dark re-tellings of some of my favorite stories. This is actual footage of me getting ready to read this book..

But it's not a "Little Mermaid" re-telling. Which is okay. It still could have been a really interesting book.
This story involves Amelia, who just happens to be a real mermaid. Many years ago she was caught in a fisherman's net and saw his lonely eyes. She falls in the loves with him and shows up at his house. They have the smoochy smoochies until he is lost at sea. She gets to be known as the lonely widow with a secret.

Stuff never stays secret so before long a guy shows up at her door. He tells her wonderful tales of a museum that his friend Barnum owns. How she could make all the dollars by being the mermaid in the show.

So after he leaves Amelia gets to thinking how she is wasting away just mooning about on the coast and decides to go to New York to become the Barnum mermaid.

The one he has did not really work out too well.

This book wasn't horrible...it just seemed to repeat itself over and over to me. And the overly dramatic way that Amelia came across with her feelings. I totally kept seeing the movie camera focusing in on her face in my head.

I need to read one of the authors darker books. I think they would be more my jam. (Yes, I know I'm old and use outdated language...bite me)

Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,073 followers
February 11, 2021
“The ocean has a rhythm, but it has no heart.”

3.5 ⭐️

This was very different from the Christina Henry I am used to. I’ve read her newest horror and her previous dark retellings and enjoyed them all pretty much.

This is more of a historical fiction with a magical realism element thrown in. But I was happy to go with the flow.

Amelia is a mermaid, when she is caught in a fisherman’s net she believes that is the end for her. But to her surprise he releases her back into the sea. She’d recognised the loneliness in the fisherman’s eyes and believed it mirrored her own so she returned to his home, and there she stayed.

Many years later Amelia lives alone in that same cottage. When she is approached by a scout who had heard rumours about her, and offers her the chance to be a star in P T Barnum’s museum, she accepts.

I won’t give away anymore than that. But I will say it’s not an overly fast moving plot. It is more of a character study. I found it interesting to see Barnum from a less than ideal perspective. It’s not particularly long either so worth giving it a go I’d say.


Quickly grabbed this one from the library before lockdown and it closes. 👍
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,656 reviews5,136 followers
June 15, 2018
He knew then, without any other proof, that she was a mermaid, a real mermaid, and far from wanting her in Barnum’s tank, he wanted her to return to the ocean or to her cottage on the rocks or just go anywhere but there, for Barnum would take all of her magic and twist it out of her until the enchantment was gone, and Levi was afraid for her, so afraid.

When I heard that Christina Henry was writing a story about a mermaid, my first thought was that, as well-known as she is for fantasy retellings, it would be a retelling of The Little Mermaid; that idea intrigued me enough on its own, but when I learned that this was actually to be a historical fiction about the Fiji mermaid in P.T. Barnum’s American Museum, I was totally hooked and knew I had to get my hands on this one. What a fascinating and unique story idea, right?

Freedom was far more intoxicating than safety could ever be.

Not only is the entire plot so magnificently singular and fresh, but its execution? At risk of gushing, it’s flawless. Christina’s writing is so atmospheric, especially in the beginning of the story, where I constantly found myself thinking I could practically taste the salt in the air and hear the waves crashing against the rocky Maine shore.

Women who did what they liked instead of what other people wished were often accused of witchcraft, because only a witch would be so defiant, or so it was thought.

Hidden amidst the whimsy and fantasy, she occasionally hits you in the gut with a powerful quote or observation on the human condition and society’s endless flaws, and you find yourself wondering if you’re reading a historical fairytale or a tongue-in-cheek lesson on feminism and acceptance. Amelia is headstrong and powerful, in part because nobody’s ever told her not to be, and she understands something that many women have stripped away from them at a young age: that taking care of herself and surviving will always be more important than protecting a man’s ego.

“Do not mistake the revelation of my body for the revelation of my heart. My heart keeps its own secrets, and they don’t belong to you or anyone else just because you’ve seen me with a fish tail.”

There’s also a running theme of a woman’s autonomy and how heavily Amelia clings to her freedom; despite the pains she’s been through in life, her greatest adversary at any given time is whatever the greatest threat to her independence. She refuses to be shamed for the shape of her body or exposure of her skin, for her feelings and desires, or even simply for the ways she views the world.

“Until I became a human, nobody ever told me there was something wrong with my body.”

One thing I would like to mention, as I know it is a hard topic to read about for many people, is that there is a brief subplot in the book regarding Amelia’s infertility and how badly she wants to bear a child. As a woman who has also struggled with infertility, I didn’t feel that there were any particularly heavy or triggering scenes, but I wanted to offer a fair warning in case anyone needs to mentally prepare themselves before reading about those struggles.

“Why is a girl less valuable than a boy?”

Even if none of the themes I’ve mentioned here have convinced you to pick up a copy of The Mermaid, let me leave you with this: at the end of the day, under all of its necessary and skillfully woven social commentary, this is a gorgeous historical fantasy tale with remarkable, three-dimensional characters, a plot that never grows stale or slow, and a protagonist that you can’t help but love and root for.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Berkley for providing me with this finished copy in exchange for an honest review!

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,539 followers
July 31, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

When I heard Christina Henry was going to take on P.T. Barnum, my reaction pretty much looked like this . . . .

Only with more facial hair.

I will 100% admit my hopes were extraordinarily high. I was banking on something D.A.R.K. since that has been Henry’s forte as well as the way she made me crossover into stalker superfan status with not only her spin on Alice but also Captain Hook. Although there was an obvious take on the mermaid legend that could have been presented . . . . .

I was ready for this author to take a less-traveled road regarding this captive mermaid. And for a minute I thought she had . . . .

“You can’t climb out if someone takes your jar of sand away.”

So good, right?????

But then . . . . .

A kissing book?!?!?!?!?!

I still anxiously await her next release.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!



The world is not prepared for the epic tantrum I will engage in if I don't receive a copy of this immediately. And also everyone knows I'm Christina Henry's biggest fangirl so she's lucky I haven't Annie Wilkes'd her already to begin with.
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,294 reviews343 followers
August 20, 2018
My Experience: I started reading The Mermaid on 8/9/18 and finished it on 8/20/18 at 2am. This book is a marvelous read! Such a lyrical narrative! I love the clever ways the characters are thinking and knowing. I like following Amelia, Levi, and Barnum’s thought processes. They are clever and brutally honest when they think, but school their faces to calm when they interact with others. This book is not a retelling of the little mermaid, but more of a story on the mermaid and her life before and after 1842 living in the sea and becoming an attraction on land.

This book is told in the third person point of view following a Mermaid named Amelia and a fisherman named Jack. Amelia is curious of the people and the land and Jack loves the sea. One day Jack catches Amelia in a net, though he lets her go, he still hope to see her again. Amelia had heard stories about mermaids becoming human and she tested it out. It works and she finds her way to back Jack. For many years they love each other and grow old together, except that Amelia doesn’t grow old. New York in 1842, there is a man named P.T. Barnum, a collector and a con artist of strange and unusual, who is seeking for something spectacular to display at his museum as a way to earn fame and fortune. An old story about a widow mermaid is then passed onto Barnum and he wanted to seek her out even though he doesn’t believe the mermaid is real. Readers will also follow Levi’s view, a lawyer turned showman for Barnum. His job is to convince people to do things and he’s very good at it. Levi is a fair man who wants equality for all employees, even the ones on displays. Amelia has been living in Northern Maine at the cottage by the sea, long after her husband Jack is gone. With Levi’s invitation, she wants to take the opportunity to see the world, but as soon as she arrives in New York, what she sees is not what she expects.

A well developed book, The Mermaid is a beautifully written story. I like Amelia, strong and independent to deal with such a scoundrel employer. I like her ability to refrain from anger when arguing. I like following her learning curve about understanding people and feelings and whether her decisions she made is right for her. The story spun very well with multiple point of views so readers can have a rounded understanding of each character’s feelings and yearnings. I like the love story. This book give a good glimpse into life in the 1800s. I like the supporting characters with Charity and Caroline. This book is a fantastic read and I highly recommend everyone to read it!

Pro: fast paced, page turner, couldn’t put down, museum, New York, 1800s, mermaid, love

Con: none

I rate it 5 stars!

***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Berkley Publishing for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,925 reviews10.6k followers
January 9, 2019
After a chance encounter with a fisherman, a mermaid assumes human form and marries him. When her husband dies, Mrs. Amelia Douglas's life stagnates until she is invited to join P.T. Barnum's circus.

My wife got me this book for Christmas. I threw it on my wishlist aeons ago since the other two Christina Henry books I've read, Alice and The Lost Boy, were bad ass dark retellings of classic tales.
"What if P.T. Barnum's Feegee Mermaid was an actual mermaid instead of dead monkey with a fish tail sewn on?" seems to be the core premise of this book.

I must admit I did not finish this book. I got halfway through and discovered I didn't really care to finish. The premise was interesting but I found my attention wandering to the ARCs I had on deck and The Secret of Mana partially finished on my SNES Classic. While I liked Christina Henry's past offerings, this one didn't grab my attention. The pace was slow and I didn't care for the love story. She might have turned things around in the end but I'm fine with not knowing how things turned out.

Two stars. I may come back to it someday when I've read the rest of the unread books in my house.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
September 13, 2018
Plot-wise, this book was EXACTLY what you would expect it to be. Enjoyment-wise, it was pretty meh. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it. Probably a 2.5
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,727 reviews6,663 followers
June 25, 2018
Note: The Mermaid is a reimagining of P.T. Barnum and his 1840s Feejee Mermaid hoax and not a retelling/reimagining of The Little Mermaid.

I tend to have a hard time enjoying reimaginings/retellings of actual historical figures...especially when they're not portrayed in the best light. But this is where the author made a wise choice. She incorporated fantasy/mythology so even though a name may be familiar, it's part of a world that doesn't entirely exist. Christina Henry reimagines popular characters in the most engaging ways. Historically, she has focused on fairytale characters, twisted them on their heads, and made some successful horror out of them. In The Mermaid, there is no horror here. There is love, loss, history, and admirable soapboxes about women's choice/independence and harmful religious zeal.

This story focuses primarily on the mermaid "Amelia" herself with Barnum and his associate Levi Lyman being secondary characters. Overall, I fully enjoyed this book. I didn't know much about Barnum and his fake mermaid to begin with, so I enjoyed this as a fresh piece of fantasy/fiction versus an intentional reimagining; however, I've since researched a bit about the various hoaxes Barnum exhibited and can respect this as the reimagining it is.

I would recommend The Mermaid for fans of historical fiction with a bit of fantasy entwined, and would highly encourage existing Christina Henry fans to set aside expectations based on her previous work. Also, while P.T. Barnum is not portrayed as a villain, he is written as a businessman consumed with dollars and the bottom line with moderate to little regard for the safety and health of those in his employ. I don't have a personal opinion on the man since I've never met him, haven't completed my own research, and I take hearsay with a grain of salt. If you think this portrayal would not negatively impact your enjoyment, I'd say go for it. Enjoy!!

My favorite quote:
“Women who did what they liked instead of what other people wished were often accused of witchcraft, because only a witch would be so defiant, or so it was thought.”
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,447 reviews363 followers
August 7, 2020
If I'm honest, this was a little disappointing after all the dark, twisted re-tellings I've read by the same author. It was sadly pretty PG.

It begins with a familiar sort of tale about a mermaid with an abundance of curiosity, who falls in love with a human. This story is relatively short and sweet before the mermaid's tale evolves into one that introduces us to a famous historical figure: P. T. Barnum - a man with an insatiable appetite for the curious.

Honestly, the whole museum/circus side of things really didn't do a lot for me. Historically, it's not something I'm particularly interested in and all I know about this man comes from a single, half-asleep viewing of The Greatest Showman. And the charismatic Hugh Jackman is far easier to love than the Scrooge-like figure of this story.

There's some entertaining chemistry between Amelia (our mermaid) and Levi, but for me the most entertaining relationship was that between Amelia and the young, honest Caroline. I really loved the blend of youthful innocence and acceptance in Caroline compared to the naivety of Amelia.

To begin with, it's very much a story about grief and belonging, which was a little too depressing for me, though it's well done. Henry explores the emotions tied to loss of a loved one, and the antagonistic feelings of trying to move on whilst feeling guilty for doing so.

There's also a lot of subtext in the way Amelia looks human yet has the soul of a wild creature from the sea. There's a lot about caged animals, and judging people because they do things differently, and because it's set in 1842 there's also some feminist notes in the whole idea of women being the property of men. It's an interesting, insightful story, but unfortunately that's just not what I was hoping for.

If you've not read any of the author's other work, I imagine this will be a fun, historical fiction novel with a little magic worked into it. As a dark re-working of The Little Mermaid it's woefully inadequate. I think the main draw of this story will be its focus on 'caged animals' and all that entails, as well as the complicated nature of Amelia's relationship with Levi. I enjoyed these things, but was let down by expectations based on other books by the author.

I wanted teeth and claws and physical ferocity - turning on captors, sea creatures wreaking havoc, twisted, depraved characters and stormy relationships. What I got was a lukewarm love story about a girl who doesn't quite belong.

An entertaining read, but likely to be more successful with first time readers of this author, and/or those with an interest in a new take on the character of P. T. Barnum.
Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,618 followers
June 18, 2018
Well, half way through...and I'm totally “Hooked” !

Smooth writing style, mixing fairytale with historical 19 century life, criticising society that fits even these days...
And just great paced...not ranty..which is a rarity..
If the first chapter which told the 'Origin' story in a "storytelling" style didn't hook you up..don't worry, you'll be caught hard in the "Net" of the next couple of chapters that it will be too hard to put the book down.

Mohammed Arabey
From 13 May 2018
To 15 May 2018
Profile Image for Katie.dorny.
979 reviews499 followers
October 19, 2019
This was Christina’s best book by far - she is definitely improving with each publication!!!

I picked this up thinking it was a re-telling of the little mermaid (it’s not) but instead found a compelling story about a mermaid named Amelia and P.T Barnum.

The story was very original and with a refreshing feminist twist which I loved - Amelia is very logical and doesn’t understand our societal concerns, making the reader also look at them in a different view.

Amelia falls for a human man and lives with him happily for many years; only after widowed does she agree to work for Barnum to earn money to travel the world (life the dream girl). Here the story is explored through several sub characters who did actually exist in real life.

Amelia is a lovely and interesting central character and this was a very interesting story based in fact that I knew nothing about.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
789 reviews1,184 followers
December 31, 2018
Mermaid Siren GIF - Mermaid Siren GIFs

"Wild things ought to be free. They can't belong to anybody.

Humans have long been enchanted with tales of mermaids, beautiful bare-breasted women with long flowing hair, equipped with tails rather than legs. The myth of the mermaid is found in many cultures around the world, first appearing in ancient Assyria. But what if they're not a myth, not mythological creatures? I don't know anyone who believes they are real (and if there is, I'd be concerned for their sanity), and that's why we have fairy tales, to enjoy these mysterious creatures, allowing us to suspend our disbelief as we're immersed in their stories.

Christina Henry's The Mermaid is one such tale. I mistakenly thought it would be a re-telling of the Little Mermaid story with Ariel. Instead our mermaid is Amelia, and she is not the beautiful creature of lore. In her mermaid form she is covered in silver scales, possessing sharp, jagged teeth and long claws. Despite her appearance. a fisherman falls in love with her. Having caught her in a net, he gazes into her beautiful and mesmerizing eyes, eyes deep as the ocean she lives in, and decides to let her go. How can he capture something so wild and free? He is unable to forget Amelia though, and she him. She often swims to the surface at night to watch him as he sits outside his cottage overlooking the ocean.

Eventually Amelia decides to try to go onto land, having heard stories that she would shed her tail and grow legs upon touching the sand. It works and after a time trying to figure out how to use these legs, she makes her way to the fisherman. They marry and live happily together for many years. During this time, Amelia does not age at all, leaving the townspeople to speculate about her, fearing her and calling her a witch. Many years later, P.T. Barnum hears of a woman who is really a mermaid and sends his agent to bring her to him in New York City. At first she resists, but eventually gives in.

There she is put on display in Barnum's American Museum, and spends her days unhappily swimming in a tank for the entertainment of humans.

And that is all I will say about that. You will have to read the book to find out the rest of the story. Or perhaps someone reveals more in another review and for that you will have to check for yourself. I would recommend reading the book though. Christina Henry has drawn upon the real life PT Barnum and his mermaid hoax to create this story. In some ways it is a fable, as Ms. Henry uses it to point out the depravity and unkindness of humans who often feel they are superior, not just to non-human animals, but also to our fellow humans. We see someone different and think we are better and thus have the right to exploit them or try to control them, treating them however cruelly we wish. Ms. Henry uses this story to point out the absurdity of male chauvinism, of white superiority, of using animals for our own purposes, of religious people who believe they alone are in possession of the "one true god" and thus have a moral duty to change everyone else. It is woven into the fabric of the story, but is not a "preachy" kind of book at all. Rather, it reads like a fairy tale, and is highly entertaining. There were a couple places where the story was slow-going, but for the most part, it moves quickly and flawlessly. Amelia is such a unique and beautiful being, in spite of her ugly appearance as a mermaid, and her story so well told and engaging. I didn't love this quite as much as Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook but it's still well worth the read and very enjoyable. Recommend to all adult lovers of fairy tales and Christina Henry fans. 🧜🧜🧜
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,376 reviews1,433 followers
September 14, 2018
The Mermaid begins like most other mermaid tales. A creature from the sea is caught in a fisherman's net. With one glance, the mermaid falls in love with him and decides to leave the ocean.

But her eyes had seen inside him the way that women's eyes do, and his loneliness snaked into her, and she was sorry for it, for that loneliness caught her more surely than the net." pg 4

Predictably, their life together goes well, until one day it doesn't.

Then, one of P.T. Barnum's right-hand men, Levi Lyman, comes seeking a real mermaid, or at least a woman with a reputation of being a mermaid, for the showman's museum.

"What he'd caught in his net had been far more alien, a creature covered in silver scales all over, with webbing between its fingers and teeth much sharper than any human's. pg 9

Barnum is cast as the villain of this tale, a grasping coin-counter with little regard for the feelings of people, let alone magical creatures like a mermaid: "Barnum privately thought that if the woman was really a mermaid — not likely, as Levi had said, but there was always hope — she wouldn't be going anywhere. There wasn't a chance in heaven or hell that Barnum would let something like that go once he had it." pg 43

Coincidentally, the day before I picked up this book, I had the chance to watch "The Greatest Showman", a musical film about P.T. Barnum's life, museum, and the people he hired to fill its halls.

I enjoyed the music and choreography, but felt that a man as complex as P.T. Barnum couldn't fairly be depicted in a 90-minute film. There was a darker side to Barnum's story — the way he fleeced people out of their money with "humbugs" and, in a particular, his treatment of a woman named Joice Heth.

P.T. Barnum is a purveyor of wonders, a seller of miracles, a showman of the first order." pg 58

In this book, Christina Henry doesn't shy from these shadows in Barnum's life, but I didn't feel like he was a particularly scary antagonist.

I suppose the true struggle in The Mermaid could be Amelia's difficulty in maintaining her mermaid nature in a human world. However, that story has been told before.

She meant to do the proper human thing, to behave the right way, but they were not as easy with each other as she'd thought they would be." pg 153

Henry didn't put a twist to this fantasy tale as she so successfully managed to do with Alice, her dark re-telling of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I confess, I was rather disappointed.

I wanted a unique mermaid story. Instead, I got a fairly standard interpretation of a classic.

"I left because I wanted something I didn't have, and once I loved Jack and lost him, I wasn't the same as I was before. Love does that. It changes you in ways that can't be undone." pg 177.

The Mermaid is a charming little tale, for what it's worth. Just don't expect too much out of it. It's not a humbug, but I wouldn't call it a wonder of the world either.
Profile Image for Steven.
1,065 reviews382 followers
June 25, 2018
Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley/Penguin Random House for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed my first Christina Henry book. I'd had my eye on her Lost Boy book and her Chronicles of Alice for a while now, but hadn't had a chance to get to them (we all know how big Mount TBR can get!). When The Mermaid popped up in my Berkley newsletter, I sprang at the chance!

It's a fun tale, but my favorite part of it all was the fact that we get to see humanity through the eyes of the non-human, the titular mermaid. And honestly, while there are some shining lights in the darkness, I tend to agree with Amelia that there is so much darkness in humanity - mostly because of an abundance of apathy towards our fellow man and our fellow creatures. We should be better caretakers and stewards of the world we're in.

Anyways, Amelia was a really cool and relatable character and a lot of fun to read. I'd say pick it up, grab a comfy reading space, and settle in for an afternoon of magic and entertainment. Just be prepared - this isn't The Greatest Showman. This one sticks more along the lines of how the real PT Barnum was.
Profile Image for Sarah Marie.
1,838 reviews226 followers
June 10, 2018
The Mermaid by Christina Henry

5 stars

“Freedom was far more intoxicating than safety could ever be.”

The mermaid swam in the oceans and enjoyed her freedom. Then a fisherman’s net captured her and the eyes of sad and lonely Jack stuck with her. Thus, began her decision to go onto land and shift from the horrifying alien creature into a woman with gray eyes. The transformation is not easy and it comes at a price that nearly cripples the mermaid, but she crawls into the fisherman’s house and finds a home. The sea is cruel and it stole her husband away.
“Still she loved him, and loved him more for she knew his heart, and after many, many years she found she loved him even more than the sea. And so the sea, who can be bitter and jealous herself, took Jack away— perhaps in hopes that Amelia would love her best again.”
If this doesn’t immediately destroy your soul, then you have a heart of iron. This isn’t all to the story though. This is only the first chapter. Amelia’s story starts a decade later when Levi Lyman, a business partner of P.T. Barnum, arrives with the hopes of convincing Amelia to come to New York and be a part of Barnum’s museum of odd things. This story is based off the real incident of the Feejee mermaid that was exhibited in Barnum’s museum.

Henry tackles the tale from the perspective of what if the Feejee mermaid was a very real mermaid? A mermaid who longed for a friend. Who was headstrong and refused to let anyone own her. A mermaid who saw all the injustices placed upon women to fit and mold them into the boxes that their husbands so desperately they desired they fall into. Henry takes liberties with Levi and Barnum, of course, they are depicted as the story is fit and not true to history. Henry uses this story to tackle a lot of important topics within feminism and her writing is absolutely captivating. One of my favorite parts of this novel is when Amelia reflects on the fact that Barnum is hanging up posters of a half-naked woman and it is nothing like what Amelia truly looks like. It’s great commentary on how she is outside the realm of objectification for human enjoyment and sexuality. I highlighted so many passages and cried within the first twenty pages. That wasn’t the only time I cried. I was emotionally attached to this story. I was mesmerized and overwhelmed by the beauty of the words and the horror of humanity.

Whimsical Writing Scale: FLAWLESS

“She came from the sea, and humans would always sense the strangeness in her even if they didn’t know why she made them shift uneasily, or why they didn’t want to spend too long looking directly into her eyes.”

Amelia is a wonderful character to follow. She has no concept of societal standards and is put off by a lot of the things that people to do other people. It’s so wonderful to see a character who sees the world through eyes of confusion, but also a fierce desire to be close to humanity. She was strong and she spoke her mind even when it was deemed that she should be quiet. This isn’t a Little Mermaid retelling, but it does rely on the fabrication of Barnum that Amelia can’t speak and so when she is performing, she must remain silent. It removes her voice when she has one and it is quiet depressing, but also a fitting contrast to Charity, Barnum’s wife, and her own ability to speak, but the silence her husband forces upon her with scathing comments and uninterest.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 5

“He had stardust in his eyes, and Amelia was sorry for it.”

Levi is Amelia’s main love interest. I don’t particularly love Levi. In fact, I don’t think he’s all that and a bag of chips, but I did appreciate what he did for this story. He was sweet and he stood by his convictions through thick and thin (which is admirable even if it causes tension with Amelia). They were a lovely together because it was a gradual process. Amelia didn’t automatically love Levi. In fact, she pitied him. After a while, though his constant helpful and protective presence became a solace to her and she began to think that she could love again. I loved that message. I didn’t even care that Levi wasn’t all that interesting and he doesn’t have much development outside of greatly loving Amelia and feeling guilt over Barnum’s last stunt, but I loved the message that their love held.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 4

The Villain- Barnum is probably the most obvious “villain” of this story. He’s pretty despicable and he does a lot of horrible things to his family and Amelia. I wasn’t a fan of him, but I think that’s what Henry was trying to convey with presenting a man so obsessed with owning things, particularly women, who could garner him great wealth and be used to his benefit. He was pretty much a representation of male dominance and privilege.

Villain Scale: 5

“Until I became human, nobody ever told me there was something wrong with my body.”

Charity and Caroline were absolute sweethearts. My heart broke when Charity didn’t accept Amelia because she thought she was lying about being a mermaid. When they became besties, it warmed my heart and made me happy because female friendship is the best. Caroline is also so sweet and the first interaction she has with Amelia absolutely stole my heart. They are wonderful and Charity as a character is an important image of what many women of the time period were dealing with when it came to being forced into fitting marriage standards.

Character Scale: 5

“Humans often valued what they should not, she reflected, and most often they did not value what was right before their eyes.”

I think this book is flawless. You probably will disagree, but honestly, I think many will enjoy this book. It has so many wonderful elements that make this magical story an important tale of loss, love, friendship, standing up for your personal rights, and never giving up hope. It’s a great novel and I’m so happy that it blew me away because I wasn’t expecting to love this when I requested it for review, but I’m so glad that I do. It’s always wonderful when I find a novel randomly and it becomes a new favorite.

Plotastic Scale: 5

“Wild things ought to be free. They can’t belong to anybody, not really.”

Cover Thoughts: I absolutely adore this cover. It’s stunning.

*All quotes used in this review are from an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) and are subject to change upon publication. *

Thank you, First to Read and Berkley, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Howard.
1,177 reviews73 followers
May 9, 2023
4 Stars for The Mermaid (audiobook) by Christina Henry read by Cassandra Campbell.

This is the story of a mermaid that wants to experience what it’s like to be human. She first finds love and ultimately adventure when she teams up with P. T. Barnum as one of his attractions. She creates quite the stir and Barnum is pleased with his mermaid but a few of the spectators feel that she is unnatural. She finds love again but this life is taking a great toll on her.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,721 reviews462 followers
July 6, 2018
I liked this book and thought it was well done. I do have to say that this book was a little different than I expected. That isn't a bad thing since I like being surprised by the books that I am reading. I loved Christina Henry's previous book, Lost Boy, so I was really excited to see what she would do with this mermaid tale. I found the book to be incredibly well written and quite entertaining.

One of the reasons that this book may have surprised me a bit is due to the fact that my mermaid knowledge is quite limited. I have watched the Disney movie more times than I can count but that is really my total mermaid experience. I did see a few similarities between this book and the Disney film but only at the very start of the story.

I liked Amelia and thought her view of the world was quite refreshing. While women around her concerned themselves with the opinions of others and propriety, Amelia cared little about how others saw her. She did not want to see anyone come to harm and really had a very kind heart. I loved her relationship with P.T. Barnum's young daughter, Caroline, and wife, Charity. Levi and Barnum were both great characters as well. Barnum always had dollar signs in his eyes and didn't always do the right thing but I was impressed that he would back down in certain situations. Levi wanted to protect Amelia and it was quite obvious how much he cared for her.

As I mentioned this book wasn't quite what I thought it would be. Based on my experience reading Lost Boy, I expected a much darker story. As I read, I kept thinking about all the evil things that could potentially happen but I just couldn't guess the turns this book would make since it went in a completely different direction than I thought it would. In some ways the story made me sad. It is terrible the way that human beings will treat each other not to mention animals in our care. I also think it would have been very hard to be a woman during this period of time.

I would recommend this book to others. It was a nice combination of fantasy and historical fiction seen through the eyes of a mermaid that is often more human than those around her. I look forward to reading more from Christina Henry very soon.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Denise.
545 reviews
November 22, 2018
3.5 Sterne

Kennt ihr das, wenn ihr ein Buch beendet habt und keine Ahnung habt, wie ihr es bewerten sollt? So geht es mir mit "The Mermaid", denn auf der einen Seite war der Schreibstil wirklich toll und die Idee ist auch absolut genial, aaaaber manche Dinge haben mich auch ziemlich gestört.

Wer den Klappentext von dem Buch gelesen hat weiß, dass sich die Meerjungfrau in einen Fischer verliebt und fortan mit ihm zusammenlebt.... Tja das alles wurde irgendwie in unter 30 Seiten abgehandelt, dabei hätte ich mir hierzu wirklich mehr gewünscht.
Die Meerjungfrau - Amelia - trifft später auf P. T. Barnum (und ja ich hatte ständig den The Greatest Showman Soundtrack im Kopf 😂).

Nur konnte mich der Charakter von P. T. Barnum nicht wirklich überzeugen. Irgendwie hatte ich teilweise eher das Gefühl, dass er zwar gerne motzt, sich aufspielt und Forderungen stellt, aber da absolut nichts dahinter steckt 🙈. Mir hat einfach ein bisschen Tiefe gefehlt 🤔.

Levi war dafür wirklich putzig! Auch wenn er manchmal etwas blass wirkt, ist er doch ein guter Charakter, dem man nur das beste wünscht 😊.

"The Mermaid" lässt sich durch den flüssigen Schreibstil recht schnell lesen, aber es hat auch ein paar Längen. Gerade im Mittelteil hätte für meinen Geschmack ruhig etwas mehr passieren können 😭. Richtig langweilig wurde es zwar nie, aber im Vergleich zum Schluss und auch zu den anderen Büchern von Christina Henry, war es teilweise doch recht ruhig 🤔😅.

Nachdem ich bereits "Alice", "Red Queen" und "Lost Boy" von der Autorin gelesen habe, hatte ich ehrlich gesagt eher eine Dark Fantasy/Horror Geschichte erwartet. Nicht, weil der Klappentext darauf hinweist, sondern weil das Cover im gleichen Stil gestaltet wurde 😅. Im Nachhinein würde ich das Buch wohl eher als einen historischen Fantasy Roman bezeichnen 😄.
Profile Image for Donna.
82 reviews23 followers
May 8, 2018
I won an ARC of this book in a GoodReads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. So, here we go:

I find it kind of ironic so soon after seeing "The Greatest Showman" to be reading a book with such a wildly different perspective of P.T Barnum. XD And honestly, despite the author's note at the end, I am far more inclined to see this book as a more accurate representation of the man, despite my love for the musical.

I'll start with the good. This book is very lovely in its prose and it's story. It truly is the fairytail it claimed to be; a bittersweet love story, full of magic and emotion. I truly loved Amelia and wished I was more of a strong, straight-talker like her. I sincerely believed that she wasn't human--she was too genuine, too untamable. And at times the book moved me to tears with its description of emotions I have come very close to experiencing myself.

However...I couldn't help but find the book rather hopeless. It presented problems in Victorian America, declared them to be pretty much an overview of human nature in general, and then had the characters decide that the only hope was to . Maybe that was the only solution for a half mermaid, half human family, but even besides that I found the book to have an overall pessimistic theme.

Anti-religious too. And not just because it depicted evil, crazy Christians; as a Christian myself that doesn't really bother me because I know there are people who don't read the whole Bible (you know, like the parts that say "thou shalt not kill", "love thy neighbor as thyself", "love thy ENEMY", and "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free...for ye are all one in Christ Jesus"), and only pick out the parts that suit their own self-righteous worldviews. These so-called "Christians" can indeed be cruel and dangerous, and may God have mercy on their souls.

What bothers me is the part where it acts like Christians are morally wrong to want to spread their faith. Frankly I never understood this sentiment; if you believed that you had found the cure to an illness that was going to kill every human on the planet, wouldn't it be your moral duty to try and take that to everyone, no matter who told you it was rude or culturally insensitive? Believe it or not it's not xenophobia that drives us, but love for our fellow man! (Or at any rate it should be if a Christian is following the Bible.) Refuse our message if you wish, but please don't shame us for it.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. I'm just so very tired of all the books I read lately telling me to sit down and shut up; and usually basing it on fundamental misunderstandings of my faith too.

At any rate, even barring the anti-religious sentiments, I would still rate this a 3 out of 5. While I did enjoy this book alright, and again it was beautifully written, the pessimistic view of...like, pretty much everything...made its magic gradually fade for me.
Profile Image for Katherine Moore.
167 reviews45 followers
May 7, 2018
'The Mermaid' has immediately gone onto my favorites list, so I can tell you right away that this book is an absolute treat.
When I grabbed my early copy of it at Emerald City Con at the weekend, I hadn't heard it was coming out, so I certainly didn't harbor any expectations for it, and to be honest, I'm not even a big fan of fairytale retellings. Plus I had to dispel any recent images of killer mermaids I still had in my head after reading 'Into the Drowning Deep, and I thought this would be the perfect way to do that.

'The Mermaid' is a historical fairy tale about a mermaid who wasn't content enough with life in the ocean so she decided that life on land, with a man called Jack, who she feels is the love of her life, was where she needed to be. Amelia was able to come and go from the sea as she pleased, and it seemed as though her life was everything she needed it to be...until Jack grew old (and she didn't). She was then discovered by the great P.T. Barnum. The same P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus Company, who is famous for coining the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute."

That's where Amelia's life completely changed, and the story of the mermaid becomes loosely based off the 'Feejee Mermaid' hoax that Barnum orchestrated. Author Christina Henry obviously did a lot of research to include details about Joice Heth and Tom Thumb (reading the novel will make this all clear!); I found all of this, and all Barnum's various 'humbugs' to be absolutely fascinating (and shocking).

Through the eyes of Amelia, who is essentially a stranger, 'an alien' to this foreign modern world that is New York circa 1840, she questions all sorts of things: why wear all the silly trappings of clothes, why are women not afforded the same rights as men, why are animals treated so poorly, why are people who are not white or Christian 'savages', and so on. And she dares to question her new 'employer' Barnum*, who basically is raking in the dough with her mermaid exhibit.
*I have no idea what to make of P.T.Barnum as a person or character, but Henry does say this rendition is the one that suits her story.

There is so much to love about this book: the wonderful characters who fit within the actual mold that was cast, but who now have been brought to life, the writing of Henry's that seems to flow so beautifully and seems so befitting of the time, and all the questions and ideas that spring off the pages through the character of the mermaid Amelia.
And then there's the idea of the mermaid herself, something we think we have an idea about, and here it is done again; I felt like what I was reading was subtle and ethereal, and in the way that that Amelia was trying to show her reality within the book to others, I was being made to believe it too. There are also themes of sadness, loss, and longing, new love, and acceptance, in the book, and I felt those emotions from the characters clearly. It was wonderful to read all of that and move along with the feelings like waves.

Absolutely wonderful book. I already want to own whatever special edition is made. And the Funko Pop.

I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this review. Thank you!
Profile Image for Victoria.
960 reviews94 followers
January 5, 2019
Actual Rating: 4.5

I couldn’t have asked for a better book to be my first read of 2019!!

I absolutely adored this book, I don’t think i’ll ever read a Christina Henry book i won’t love!

The writing was so lyrical and just beautiful and the story...especially the take on mermaids was so cool! I really love these kinds of “retellings” where a completely different spin is put on it, the outcome was so unique and i loved every single word.

I just really wish it was longer! I can’t get enough of this story, it was just so good!
Profile Image for Nicole.
937 reviews29 followers
August 22, 2021
Wahnsinn. Amelia hat mich in ihren Bann gezogen und nicht mehr losgelassen. Ihr Leben habe ich von der ersten bis zur letzten Seite mit Spannung verfolgt. Fesselnd und dennoch leicht erzählt ist dies die beste Erzählung über Wasserwesen, die ich bisher gelesen habe (und ja, das schließt H.C. Andersen mit ein).
Profile Image for Juli.
1,879 reviews473 followers
August 7, 2018
What if the famed Fiji Mermaid displayed in the 1800s by PT Barnum had been real?

A mermaid, curious about humans, wanders too close to the shore and is netted by a fisherman. The man lets her go, but something in his gaze draws her to him. She leaves the ocean and lives with him as a human for years, until his death. Then she meets PT Barnum. Barnum doesn't want to display a fake mermaid poorly constructed from a monkey and fish.....he wants to give people the real thing. Although Barnum promises she can leave at any time, he is determined to keep his mermaid, and the money she makes for him, at almost any cost. Can Amelia have a happy-ever-after....or will she always be on display in Barnum's museum?

I enjoyed this story. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down. Amelia is such a complex and intriguing character. Living on land, but with an intense need to also be in the sea, she is conflicted even before being put on display by PT Barnum. The Mermaid is a magical and thought provoking story. I didn't really like the way PT Barnum is depicted. But being a businessman and showman, he might have been driven by a bit of greed and self-importance in reality. I just didn't like thinking of him as a liar and manipulator. I'd rather think of him as an interesting, slightly mystical, entertainer.....not a greedy, thoughtless bastard. That might be wishful thinking on my part, however, as the man made his living by tricking people much of the time. My favorite scene is one where Barnum's wife and kids discover that Amelia is the real deal.....it was just an awesome scene! I love the premise that his mermaid is actually real....so much cooler than the monkey-fish combo he really displayed. Can you imagine getting to see a real mermaid?? I would definitely have paid Barnum money to see that! :) But....would anyone stop to think about whether the mermaid was happy or not? And would she be safe?

I enjoyed this book and will definitely read more by this author!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
Profile Image for ᒪᗴᗩᕼ .
1,493 reviews147 followers
June 26, 2018
5 Out Of 5 "lonely eyes" STARS

This was truly fantastic!  A beguiling, slightly fantastical tale about a curious mermaid, and where her curiosity took her.  Taking us from the coast of Maine to New York, Charleston and beyond. Amelia, the name she picked for herself, is haunting and alluring and you can't help but love her.
Centered around a reimagining of a hoax played by P.T. Barnum about the Feejee Mermaid, in early 1840's New York, with a tour ending in Charleston, SC.
 -Advertisement for the Feejee Mermaid from the Charleston Courier, January 1843

The Mermaid is a story about what it means to be human or humane, actually.  It's also about love, friendships, and loyalty. I highly recommend.
~~~~~MY RATING~~~~~


Plot~ 5/5
Main Characters~ 5/5
Secondary Characters~ 5/5
The Feels~ 5/5
Pacing~ 5/5
Addictiveness~ 4.5/5
Theme or Tone~ 5+/5
Flow (Writing Style)~ 5/5
Backdrop (World Building)~ 5/5
Originality~ 5/5
Ending~ 5/5
Book Cover~ It's very good
Publisher~ Berkley Publishing
Setting~ New York City, 1840's
Source~ I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,757 reviews754 followers
June 2, 2021
This book is just an absolute treasure and I adored every second I spent within its pages. It’s magical and whimsical yet dark and gritty and I felt myself being swept up by the tides and carried along on a wonderfully entertaining journey. This book is different than anything I’ve ever read featuring mermaids before and I know I will never again read anything like it. The magic that Henry has captured with this story is just so unique and strange and delightful and sad that I’m almost at a loss for words. So I’m going to leave it at that and just urge you to pick this one up and experience the magic for yourself!
Profile Image for TraceyL.
984 reviews134 followers
June 21, 2020
*Update June 21st 2020: Bumping this up to 4 stars because I continue to think about it, and it may be one of my favorites by this author.*

This book is more of a fluffy romance than the author's other works. It's well-written and a good concept, it's just not what I'm normally into. I wavered between giving it 2 or 3 stars. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys magical realism.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,309 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.