Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
There is more than one way to drown.

Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans—emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light?

Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?

Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?

When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive, and Coral might even catch a prince in the process. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?

Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved—yet tragic—fairy tale, Coral explores mental health from multiple perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published November 12, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Sara Ella

7 books975 followers
Once upon a time, SARA ELLA dreamed she would marry a prince and live in a castle. Now she spends her days homeschooling her three Jedi in training, braving the Arizona summers, and reminding her superhero husband that it's almost Christmas (even if it's only January). When she's not writing, Sara might be found behind her camera lens or planning her next adventure in the great wide somewhere. She is a Hufflepuff who finds joy in the simplicity of sipping a lavender white mocha and singing Disney tunes in the car. Sara is the author of the UNBLEMISHED trilogy and CORAL, a reimagining of The Little Mermaid that focuses on mental health. Her latest journey into the world of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland feels like coming full circle after her time spent chasing a white rabbit around Walt Disney World. Sara loves fairy tales and Jesus, and she believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.” Connect with her online at SaraElla.com or find her on Instagram at @saraellawrites.

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
374 (30%)
4 stars
377 (30%)
3 stars
325 (26%)
2 stars
120 (9%)
1 star
39 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 512 reviews
Profile Image for Sara Ella.
Author 7 books975 followers
July 29, 2019
Trigger Warning & A Note to My Readers:

(*You will find this note at the beginning of this book as well.*)

For my friends who have experienced trauma, a warning—this story may be triggering. I have done my best to approach the mental health topics addressed in this book in the most sensitive and caring way possible. But even all the research and sensitivity readers in the world would never make it so I could approach every aspect of mental health from every perspective. Your experience is unique to you.

Potential triggers include suicide, self-harm, emotional abuse, anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and unwanted/non-consensual advances.

With that said, while some of what I have written comes from research and some from the caring eyes of sensitivity readers who have lived through many of these experiences, other pieces come from my own personal experience with emotional trauma. If you have lost a loved one, I’m with you. If you face depression or anxiety, my heart aches with you in a truly personal way. If you have ever felt misunderstood for these things or simply wanted to escape altogether—I understand.

For the girl who is not okay. For the boy who wonders if it will ever get better. This story is for you.

My hope is that Coral’s tale may be a small pinprick of light in your darkness—a reminder that you are seen. You are loved. You are not alone. You are not nothing, my friend. And neither am I.


Sara Ella
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,472 reviews9,387 followers
December 7, 2022
Coral, a modern-reimagining of The Little Mermaid, follows three perspectives through their struggles with mental illness.

Coral: A little mermaid who lost her oldest sister to Red Tide, a condition that mirrors depression.

Estranged and misunderstood by the rest of her family, Coral sets out to find the Prince she blames for her older sister's demise.

Merrick: A young man whose controlling father is definitely the villain of his story.

After his little sister attempts suicide, and their mother runs off, unable to cope, he blames his father for the entire situation.

When his father announces that he is planning to send his sister, Amaya, to a residential treatment program, Merrick disagrees.

He thinks she should be with her family and essentially kidnaps her to keep her from going into treatment.

Brooke: The most mysterious of the three perspectives, Brooke resides in a treatment center struggling with depression and anxiety.

She is the most challenging perspective of the three to decipher.

As a reader, you can tell all the perspectives are related somehow, as the storylines begin to run parallel, but you don't know exactly how.

Once all is revealed, it makes sense and is a very heavy story to take in.

While I understand how important the topics tackled in this book are, I personally had a hard time connecting with the story.

The writing is strong and I know for the right person, read at the right time, this book could mean so, so much.

For me, the perspectives began to run into one another and I just never felt fully engrossed in the story.

With this being said, I do think it has a completely unique way of exploring very serious mental health issues and I am glad that I read it.

I urge you to read the author, Sara Ella's, review for this book as she includes a full list of trigger warnings. I definitely think that is important for this one.

Tread cautiously if you are at all worried that something may be harmful to your mental health and wellness.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I do consider this a heart-breakingly beautiful tale, but please be sure you are in the correct head space before reading. 🖤
Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,585 followers
May 24, 2020

Many thanks to Allison at Thomas Nelson for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

DNF at 55% for two reasons.

1. I'm confused - at one point or another I must have zoned out because I am quite confused and don't really know what's going on

2. Suicide/mental illness - there are a lot of themes surrounding mental illness and I always love to see those representations in books. Unfortunately, I'm going through a patch of particularly strong anxiety so I'm really sensitive to triggers. Also, I feel like the author is doing a poor job of representing mental illness and psychiatric hospitals in a realistic and healthy way.


This sounds amazing

| Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,092 reviews1,509 followers
November 17, 2019
Coral by Sara Ella is a young adult fantasy that is a loosely based retelling of the Little Mermaid. This one is a rather dark version of the classic that comes with a long list of trigger warnings for readers including suicide, self-harm, emotional abuse, anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and unwanted/non-consensual advances.

The book begins with Coral, our mermaid, who is different than all the others around her. Corals fears she has contracted a deadly disease that her older sister once suffered from that comes from the humans, emotions. Then there’s Brooke, a girl from the human world who is in a group therapy home being treated for depression and anxiety. And then there’s Merrick, the rich golden boy who blames his controlling father for his sister’s suicide attempt.

I have to say my biggest issue with this title simply came from the style in which the author chose to tell the story. As you may see with my little summary or even the book’s own blurb we are tossed into three main characters very different storylines all at once changing the point of view between them which I felt was extremely confusing and hard to follow and get to know any one side. With subject matter like the ones in this book the haphazard back and forth was not letting me feel their emotions but instead wondering if I should take notes.

I hate being a negative Nelly but this one took me four days to finish as I kept putting it down when I can normally be a book or two a day reader. So while I can appreciate the creativity of being inspired by a classic and writing something completely new and also tackling very deep subjects I can’t honestly say I’d recommend this one unless one enjoys the style of feeling like you are reading multiple separate books only for them to eventually join together.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Amanda Hupe.
953 reviews54 followers
November 4, 2019
Just look at that cover. It isn’t hard to imagine why I wanted to read Coral by Sara Ella. Between the cover and finding out it has a fairy tale twist, I just could not pass it up. However, if you struggle with depression, mental illness and have certain triggers. You may want to avoid my review.


Coral is a mermaid and her father is the King. She has two sisters, Jordan and The Crown Princess. Emotions are for humans, not merpeople. The Crown Princess is struggling. Her father doesn’t seem to understand. Coral is the only one who shows any empathy towards The Crown Princess. She has a disease and Coral is showing signs of it as well. On land, Brooke is admitted into a mental health group therapy facility. No matter if those around her try to reach out she still feels alone. Then there is Merrick. He comes from a wealthy family, but they also are torn apart by mental illness. After is mom leaves, he goes to find her, and along the way meets a mesmerizing girl named Coral.

I am so torn. I really wanted to love this book. However, I want to give a HUGE thank you to the author. I love that she took a popular fairy tale and used it to bring awareness to mental health, depression, anxiety, and suicide. The fact that mental health is the sole focus of this book is amazing.

That being said. The book is hard to read. Not the themes. The points of view transitions of Coral, Brooke, and Merrick are so rough. There were many times where I thought I had to re-read the book because I was so confused. There are a few moments where I didn’t even know that the characters changed points of view. That brings me to the characters. We don’t ever get detail about the characters. They are all defined by their mental illness or how it has affected those around them. We don’t really get to know them outside of their internal struggles. This makes the story feel like it has a lack of depth.

This may seem silly. And it may just be me. But personally, I was not a fan of the description. Specifically in the Mer World. (Is that what we call it?) She talks about the seaweed bedsheets or eel gel. I know this is a young adult book, but this felt like something that would have been in a children’s book. Instead of immersing me in this world, it actually made me tune out. Plus, when Coral comes to the surface, she just seems to blend right in like it is second nature. It just didn’t seem believable.

Overall, I really applaud the author for trying to bring a story that we love and bring awareness to mental health. The story just needs a little work. So I rate this book 2 out of 5 stars.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you.
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
853 reviews3,765 followers
January 31, 2020
Full disclosure: Sara Ella is a friend of mine and I was sent an ARC copy of the book for review. For me, some elements were 3 stars, some were 5 stars.

The worst I can say about it is that I spent a lot of time being confused about the timeline - I was reading too much into it, making up theories that I was WAY of about, so I think if you just take it at face value and allow the story to play out in its own time you won't feel the confusion that I did.

The best I can say is that Sara captures a lot of the mental illness aspect very well, and I was fully invested in her characters. The mermaid scenes were pretty great too! There are many references to things from The Little Mermaid, be it a name, a song lyric said in conversation, plot points. Sara Ella does fairy tale elements very well.
Profile Image for Jane Maree.
Author 2 books96 followers
July 29, 2019
Coral is such a raw, beautiful story. It left me breathless and desperately wanting more, yet it was so satisfying in what it was, and ended so perfectly.

The characters are all so real. I felt their struggles in me. I felt their struggles in my friends. Coral, Brooke, Merrick, Hope, Grim, Nikki, Jake, Beck, Miss Brandes. Pieces of them are pieces of me, and that was amazing to read.

It's an incredibly brave thing to do: to write a story like this about mental health. For Sara Ella to be vulnerable enough to pour her heart and soul into this story...It's so personal, so touching, so powerful. And I love this story even more for that.

It's not a fast-paced book, and for some I think it could be very difficult to read, but the raw emotions, and the messy, real life in it are so well written. It's not a fun book. It's even a hard book, sometimes. But it's so good, in a deep, soul-touching way.

Content: please note that this deals with some really tough subjects and could be triggering. Sara has a beautiful note in the front of the book which you should read before venturing into the story.

I definitely have to reread this book before I can fully grasp the intricate soul of this story, and I'm looking forward to it. It has captured my heart. It has inspired me in so many ways. It's my prayer that it will do the same for you.

"You are not nothing. You are not alone."

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Erin Phillips.
Author 10 books100 followers
September 19, 2022
I didn’t dock any stars for the graphic/explicit way that suicide and cutting are approached in this book thanks to the Author’s trigger warning at the very beginning. It is, however, a very necessary trigger warning and should be taken seriously. If you currently struggle with suicidal thoughts or self-harm, I would caution you against reading this book.

There were a lot of great one-liners in this book. My favorite was probably

“True love makes life, even a broken one, worth fighting for.”

The author has a very distinct writing style and characters that feel very authentic and real in their rawness.

Having intimately experienced several situations very similar to those in this book, Sara Ella nails the spiraling mindset of suicide, and this book could potentially provide some perspective and compassion for someone who “just doesn’t understand” (as I’ve heard people say).

Sara Ella’s impressive writing style and raw emotion makes this story stick with you long after you’ve turned the final page.
Profile Image for Laura Grace.
Author 11 books188 followers
July 19, 2020
VIDEO REVIEW HERE: https://youtu.be/PB23IAOuoTY

4.5 stars

I'm not 100% sure what to say.

Coral was nothing like expected, but everything I needed.

It ripped off the "blinders" concerning mental health in a way where these characters are not just characters on the page. They are reflections of real people, real stories. It made me realize that it can be so easy due to social media to feel "involved" in others' lives, but also make us feel like a mermaid out of water. That so many of us struggle with or know someone personally who struggles with anxiety, depression, and/or feels suicidal and "mask" it in different ways.

Because of that, this feels like one of the hardest books I've read.

Coral is an extremely relatable character even if I have never been in her fins. Add Brooke's and Merrick's story and my heart aches, but it heals to seeing their story. That our, the readers, story doesn't have to end in pain. It can heal. It can love.

I am mind blown how the author was able to take a "hidden topic" in society today and present this beautiful, heart-breaking story.

Again, Coral was nothing like expected, but everything I needed.

Recommended to readers who want a story that shows they are not alone and those who need to read a story of healing.

*(I received an ARC from the publisher. All thoughts expressed are my own and was not required to write a positive review.)*
January 9, 2020
This book hits different. It’s deep and emotional and so many people need this story.

I’m beyond thankful Sara fought through the difficulties she had writing this story. This story could be the thing that saves someone’s life.

Such an unique twist on a well known fairytale! She did an amazing job wrapping everything up, and making me feel every emotion!

Sara is queen of plot twists and I loved them all. (Even though they broke my heart)

If you know anyone who has depression, if YOU have depression, or even if you don’t, you need to read this book. It will give insight to so many thoughts and feelings.

You are not alone. You are not nothing.
4.5/5 stars!

*I received the book from the author**All opinions are my own*
Profile Image for R.F. Gammon.
470 reviews178 followers
June 21, 2020
Lyrical, painful, and real. Was slightly distracted by two of the main characters having the same first names as my two best friends.
Profile Image for Ry.
126 reviews1 follower
October 31, 2022
This was so deep and incredible! It was slow at first (especially cause I got bad Merrick vibes), but I was about halfway through and didn't put it down until I was finished! (which was about 10 at night) I was so stuck on how they all connected and it was still fuzzy until one sentence in the last chapter that straightened everything up (plus, it was almost midnight) But it was SO GOOD! You guys really need to read this! I felt for the characters, and unnamed's death was really sad... Anyway, please check this book out!

P.S. Anyone else catch that Sara and Nadine are really good friends and there was a character named Miss Brandes?? ;) Good one, Sara!
Profile Image for Alabama Rose.
Author 1 book43 followers
June 27, 2021
Honestly I think this is my new favourite book.

My heart hurts so much. I... cried. Which I never do. Like not just tearing up but I actually cried. (I also stayed up until 3am to finish the book, which I also never do. No regrets lol)

Everything was just handled so well, while still being real and raw and painful.

This book brought up so many emotions and memories and struggles. It was hard because of the triggers in the book, but I also felt in some ways that it helped me deal with those emotions + grieving.

I appreciate the way the author handled the themes and messages. Showing hope to the world, showing the grieving process and coping methods.

At this point, I don't really know how to write a coherent review because I'm still entangled in this beautiful story—still trying to process.

The book isn't for everyone. (If you're thinking of reading it, I'd encourage you to research the content warnings, as there are many.)

But know that you are not nothing. You are not alone.
Profile Image for Lily - Books by Starlight.
399 reviews179 followers
June 12, 2021
I absolutely LOVED reading this book and I will definitely re-read this in the future too!! The first half of the book felt really heavy and if I'm going to be honest, I wasn't sure I was ready to read the rest, but I'm super glad I did! Learned a lot from this one, both about myself and others.
Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
895 reviews274 followers
November 8, 2020
While I appreciate what Sara Ella is trying to do with Coral it just didn’t work for me.
Unfortunately the twists that might make a book like this work feel flat or are just confusing. The focus of the story is not related to mermaids at all. It’s really about depression and suicide (and not really in a new way or one that resonated with me); that one of our gals starts as a mermaid is generally irrelevant.
The love story is okay, but features frustrating moments and is very teen angsty. I struggle to find any comparisons to The Little Mermaid besides the obvious. There is subtlety I expect from retellings of famous stories and Ella just misses the mark entirely.
This might work for some teens in certain mindsets but for this adult reviewer I just didn’t feel into it at all.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Melissa.
557 reviews800 followers
December 17, 2019
This is a big emotional read. It deals with emotional trauma and the many faces of mental illness in the most original way possible. Reading it was sometimes confusing, but in the end, it felt like I was wearing the story like a blanket. It's a part of who I am now. Depression, anxiety... it's an illness. Nothing is what it seems at first glance. You can't never know what's inside everyone's head, what they are thinking and feeling, beside their smile. The most important part of the story, for me, is to understand that whether you think you're not worthy enough, you MUST remind yourself that you ARE NOT nothing, you ARE enough, and you ARE important.

I'm totally getting that tattoo, btw.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Profile Image for Lilian.
270 reviews11 followers
November 2, 2019
Okay... this got SUPER confusing at the end. I may have to reread it to fully get it (I think I read it too quickly hahah).
Profile Image for Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls).
1,554 reviews3,397 followers
May 26, 2020
Pre Teens- One Star
New Teens- One Star
Early High School Teens- Two Stars
Older High School Teens- Two Stars
My personal Rating- Two Stars

{{ Major trigger warnings to those sensitive to suicide, self-harm, emotional abuse, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, and unwanted advances. }}
{{ Ratings are for content, please decide for yourself on what content/topics you are okay with. }}

I knew this book was a Little Mermaid retelling (though, perhaps, reimagined would be best like the author said) and dealt with mental health. I can not put into words how thrilled I am that the author and publisher included a trigger warning at the beginning of the book. That is what I want to see in every book published.

This isn’t an easy read. So much is discussed and happens in this book that hurts my heart in so many ways. The thoughts and actions of these characters are all too real and familiar to so many people.

I could comment on aspects I didn’t like (Merrick and Nikki’s heavy make-out scene and his comments), how some characters changed in a blink of an eye, or that I’m still confused by the timeline of this story. I am glad everything got revealed around the time it did. If it had been closer to the end of the story, I think I would have ended the book very puzzled about who was who, but thanks to the continuation, I was able to (somewhat) get it all straight.

My major disappointment, though, comes from the lack faith and Christian content. I was expecting witnessing, prayers, and talking to God about your emotions, but there wasn’t anything of the sort. This may have been a misunderstanding on my part—since it was published by a Christian publisher—but I’ll assume that it was this way in hopes to get a larger audience to try out this book.

For a clean fiction book discussing and having mental health as it’s main topic, it did a good job. It’s so very important to know that everyone is going through something that you may not see. Kindness goes a long way.

If you would like to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to seek help and reach out. Click here for a list of international hotlines that you can call, and if you can’t find your country listed, please call your local emergency number.

{{ Official Content Review to Come. }}
Profile Image for Josiah.
818 reviews172 followers
June 8, 2022
This was a good read, though it's admittedly more contemporary than speculative fiction (despite what the premise might seem to imply). As a work of contemporary fiction, I loved the themes Ella chose to tackle and thought the characters' complexity and depth were rather spot-on. The first time reading through the book, I found the plot a bit confusing due to a certain plot twist--but the second read clarified things in that regard. I appreciate Christian authors who are willing to deal with the sorts of hard topics that Ella does in this book.

Rating: 3.5-4 Stars (Good).
Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,547 reviews190 followers
July 31, 2019
Absolutely beautiful, heart breaking and ultimately about the power of love. I note that many view this as a retelling of The Little Mermaid but I beg to disagree. I found this to be slightly inspired by it yes but only as a vehicle to tell a profound story about depression and the ugly consequences.
This quite rightly carries a trigger warning as it's a very heavy subject but told in a deft intriguing way. Its surprising, profound and imaginative. Told initially from the point of view of Coral we gradually learn about Brook, Hope and those around them. There was a moment I became confused and then as I read on I realised that the characters imagination and sheer overwhelming need for peace and escape had her sinking down into a pit that she needed help escaping.
The author takes us on a ride through imagination and tragedy and it will not please everyone. If blunt at times I wanted to simply walk away but I persevered and found this story pulled at my heart strings and made me feel for these characters. A unique way to get us to think about depression as a disease and I'm extremely glad I read this book to the very end.
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
Profile Image for Marie Tankersley.
119 reviews
January 14, 2022

4.5/5 stars.
This was so unexpectedly raw and real. A very realistic portrayal. I had to close the book and just stare at my wall pondering what I had just read or I would have to stop reading because I was hit with so much feeling and sympathy. I think if I had read this a few years ago I would have been very overwhelmed in all sorts of ways, but I am happy that I read it now and it touched my heart in such unexpected ways. I would be wary of recommending this to anyone, because despite the seeming cheesy mermaid theme, it was quite emotional and heavy. However, I’m so thankful that I finally picked this up and I think this story will stick with me for a while.

There is a load of trigger warnings, so if you do gravitate toward this story, it might be wise to read those first. If you would like to read a book about mental illness that has less trigger warnings or is in some ways less severe, TATWD is a good place to start.
Profile Image for rue  mortensen.
111 reviews16 followers
January 10, 2022
3.5 stars (rounded up to 4)

coral was beautifully written ahh. i found myself loving so so many lines. sara ella's writing style is incredible, and i adore it. i will be sure to read another book by her.

the characters were so well written,, like so incredibly well written ahh. coral was adorable (and am i the only one who read her as autistic??), brooke was so...i can't even put it into words (her character development was so well done), and merrick has been added to my list of fictional crushes (right up there with gilbert blythe hehe).

the story was beautiful too, and i adored the setting.

so, why the 1.5 stars taken off? the triggers. this book was so incredibly heavy, and i found myself fairly triggered by multiple scenes. i knew the triggers going in, but that doesn't minimize them. they weren't graphic, they were more...dark. i did like how sara ella doesn't romanticize mental illness though.

i think most readers would find this book to be a 5 star read, and if i didn't have a past with mental health struggles (and being just super sensitive), i would have rated it 5 stars.

overall, this was a gorgeous book, and sara ella did an incredible job writing it.
Profile Image for Coralie.
527 reviews84 followers
July 4, 2021
This book has been on my to-read list for forever it seems. As an avid fairytale fan--and obsessive lover of mermaids--I absolutely had this book on my radar. And, thanks to my friend who agreed to buddy read it with me before Realm Makers next month, I finally decided to just do it.

So, originally I thought this was a little mermaid retelling. It's not. It's a reimagining. For those of you who are die hard fairytale nerds like me, just know that going in. I kept trying to figure out how the pieces all fit until I finally realized it was inspired by, not a retelling of. That said, I didn't enjoy it any less for the reimagining. In fact, I'm really glad Sara Ella approached the book the way she did in regards to the original tale. She made it all her own.

In fact, there were only a very few elements that made me think of the original tale, and all of those I saw in the first handful of chapters. As the book progresses, it very much becomes its own tale. One that is deep, and in some places dark, though with this undercurrent of sorting through the dark places in our lives. There are some heavy topics in this one, thematically, and even a few scenes that directly deal with difficult pieces of our broken lives. Sara posts a trigger warning in the front of the book. The story deals deeply with mental health struggles and several topics such as suicide, unwanted advances, depression, and so on. But Sara handles each of these with the utmost care. She weaves a story that shows how difficult it is to face those struggles. She acknowledges the pain and grief and just...the struggle in such a real, tender way. It was honestly a beautiful thing to watch unfold.

I do have to point out, though, that it was hard to get into. The first several chapters made my head hurt and I wondered once or twice if the read was worth the literal headache. The pov and tense switches were difficult to hop in and out of, particularly Coral's perspective. Her opening two or three chapters (but especially that first one) was just confusing. I really struggled to wrap my head around what I was seeing. The colors/sounds really made it difficult, and sadly, it didn't really seem to be super relevant to the story. A neat worldbuilding tidbit, but it never went past the first few chapters (except a brief mention toward the end again). As pretty as it all sounded, it really made visualizing the chapter and following the events something to muddle through. The colors/sounds honestly seemed about as deep as the mermaid world went, which was kind of sad. There were hints of culture and a world under the sea I wanted to know more about, but I quickly realized that was not at all the focus of the book.

I did, however, really enjoy the other perspectives. First Merrick and then Brooke won me over. Merrick was almost an instantaneous click for me. I definitely related to him and his plotline was the one that captivated me most, until partway through where Brooke's line amped up and I was invested in both pretty heavily. Coral took a little longer for me to come around to, but eventually I did. Admittedly, I pieced together the puzzle pretty early on and realized what was happening. But I can't say I was disappointed by it. I second-guessed myself a few times and Sara did a really neat job of bringing all the pieces together in the end. It was enjoyable to watch.

The story has quaint small town vibes with the strongest of undertows that will suck you in. I very much enjoyed the read, and I would recommend it. But with the caveat that you read the trigger warning and know what you're getting into. I think the book touches some much ignored areas in our lives in a truly beautiful way, and I think it can bring a wider understanding to those who haven't dealt with these specific issues. But I also believe that we have all dealt with broken shards in this shattered world. Please be sure that you are in a healthy place before reading this, that you are able to dive into deep, dark places and not get swallowed up by them. The book shows the hope and light that comes from a long, persistent struggle. But it doesn't pull punches.

Content: no language. Very little romance, though there are threads of the brokenhearted and allusions to scumbags with no boundaries. There is some violence, especially thematically, and even one particularly tense scene with a suicide attempt (though someone walks in on it, so the book doesn't actually ever show the attempt). As mentioned, there is a lot of dark broken relationships and mental places. Please be aware before you decide to read this one. I'd recommend late teens or possibly mid-teens with parental knowledge (both in a healthy headspace and with full understanding of what you're going into).
Profile Image for Hattush.
63 reviews5 followers
February 26, 2023
When I started this book, I wasn’t sure how it would be. I’m not a fan of fairy tales and I really disliked the Disney version of The Little Mermaid. But as I read, my doubts flew away and I fell in love with Sara Ella’s telling of the story.
She tackles a lot of really hard subjects – suicide, mental illness, self harm, etc. I’m so thankful that she told those parts of life in her story and that she didn’t shy away from them as a lot of Christian writers tend to do. She gave hope and showed that there is more than pain and that life is worth living.
However, as someone who has struggled with many of the topics she wrote about, it was very triggering at points. She includes a warning at the beginning, though. If you are someone who is/has/is coming out of those struggles, please read with caution and if it isn’t the right time, put the book down and come back later.
Some parts of the story were really choppy. I was also really confused about what was reality and what wasn’t throughout most of the book.
All in all, though, I loved the story and will read it again!
Profile Image for Kristianne.
118 reviews14 followers
April 5, 2022
It's hard to put into words how I feel about this book. It's heartbreaking and tragic as it realistically portrays the pain of suicide, depression, and anxiety, but it's hopeful in that it doesn't end there. The beauty of this story is that it gives lasting hope to those who are struggling with mental health while encouraging them to hold on a little longer.

These kinds of books are so needed in our world where mental health is stigmatized, but people aren't often given any hope beyond our present world. Whether you've gone through mental struggles yourself or you just want to better understand mental illness, I would encourage you to read this book.

Characters: Each of the characters was so well-crafted and deep. They really are what made this book so good!

While I liked Brooke, my favorite character was Merrick. He was so sweet and sincere, wanting to do what was best for his little sister even though he made mistakes along the way. I love that he stayed loyal to Brooke and refused to give up on her, even when she ran away from him.

I loved watching the arc between Merrick and his father unfold, especially as they grew to forgive and understand each other better towards the end. Their story gives me hope that any relationship can be restored, no matter how broken and hopeless it may seem.

I liked Brooke, but it was hard to be inside her head for too long. While I sympathized with her feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, it could get depressing after a while. That's why it was nice to get Merrick's perspective, which was much lighter.

My heart broke for her though. The poor girl went through so much, and her story was a tragic reminder of how deeply the wrong choices of other people can affect us. I admire that even though she experienced so much trauma, she grew stronger because of it, and she was willing to do the hard work of fighting the dark lies inside her head. I especially loved that she used writing to heal from her trauma. Writing is a wonderful remedy, and I love that the author brought this out.

The romance between Merrick and Brooke was cute and adorable, yet serious and committed at the same time. I loved that they were each able to help the other in some way. Merrick helped Brooke come out of the dark pit of despair and Brooke helped Merrick with his grief.

Coral was another favorite. Her sweet relationship with her oldest sister and her desire to help her really tugged at my heart. I was also intrigued by the idea that Coral could see life in more vivid colors from the others.

Plot: Sara Ella did a great job keeping me on my toes! Despite the fact the story seemed to be somewhat predictable from the premise, I was surprised by how many twists there were.

I did not see the midpoint twist coming at all. I think she could have set it up a little better and given a few more clues as it was confusing, but it certainly turned the story on its head and gave it more depth.

The ending, surprisingly, had a fairytale-like quality to it, despite the heaviness of the rest of the book, which made my fairytale-loving self very happy! It ended perfectly with a hint of grief and pain that still made it realistic.

Sara Ella's prose is just lovely. She really has a way with words! Her descriptions, especially of Coral's underwater world, were so vivid and haunting. I could really envision it. Fathoms House sounded so peaceful, and I loved the aura Sara Ella created around it. It seems like a beautiful place to visit!

Themes: Coral broke me and put me back together again. It made me cry like no other book has done in a long, long time. It was the perfect mix of the brokenness of this world with hope for eternity where there will be no more sorrow and pain.

As I mentioned at the beginning, this book deals heavily with dark themes like depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide. There are many sad, desperate scenes in the book, but they're balanced out by many beautiful, life-filled scenes in the book too. Sara Ella did a fantastic job carefully balancing the dark and light in a mature way. That's not an easy task!

I loved the theme that love gives us a reason to live. The author used the example of other people's love as the lifeline during hard times, but that could easily apply to the love of Christ too. Our lives are valuable because Christ died for us, and He loves us so much. Suicide is never the solution, even if it seems to be the last resort. In the end, it only causes more pain to the people around you and ultimately, you.

These difficult mental health problems are challenging to navigate in a way that is accurate but sensitive to others, but I thought Sara Ella did a great job portraying them. It was eye-opening and relatable, as I realized I was not the only one who has had these thoughts and feelings before, but it was a beautiful reminder that I don't have to live enslaved to them. It is possible to overcome them and live a satisfying life.

Content: Depression, anxiety, and suicide are mentioned and discussed. You are given an honest glimpse inside the minds of characters who struggle with both depression and anxiety. Attempted suicide is shown, and the suicide of a character is described, although not graphically.

For those of you who have dealt with mental struggles before, I would caution you to be in a good place before you read this, and don't be afraid to take it slowly. Be aware that some of the scenes may be triggering for you. I've dealt with anxiety and depression in the past, and though I wasn't triggered, it did leave me sad and disturbed. While I think the author handled these issues really well, I just wanted to make sure you were aware of that!
Profile Image for Mindy.
500 reviews29 followers
June 20, 2019

**Disclaimer: I received a free electronic ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

"Coral" is a loose retelling of the classic tale of "The Little Mermaid". I'm not super familiar with all the nitty-gritty details of the classic, just the kids friendly Disney version that most of the general population have come to love. Aside from this, I can confirm it is a VERY loose retelling.

This book has a very interesting premise, but once I started to read it I began to lose interest. First off, the story starts out slow to the point where I'm just wondering why there are even three perspectives in the first place if the story was moving at such a pace. Secondly, I was left confused more than I probably should be. In fact, throughout the story, there were many instances where I felt even lost. I thought maybe it was the writing style or me just not paying enough attention to the story or even I'm just not reading thoroughly enough. Despite all of these speculations of mine, I will conclude that the story was written with an air of vagueness. There are topics, phrases, incidents, and memories that occur in the story that are repeatedly mentioned but are not thoroughly explained nor flushed out. For example, the "Red Tide" is brought since the first chapter but is never explained until the end.

Another issue I had with the story was Coral's transition from her underwater life to land. The way she was able to easily assimilate into the human world kind of left me scratching my head. Even though it is later revealed why the story happened the way it did in the end, I wished that aspect was developed more because once Coral was on land, everything of her mermaid life was never mentioned or seen again. As readers, we don't know the ending so to us it looked like a bunch of loose ends.

Now the character themselves were nothing special. Maybe it's just me, but I found the supporting cast to be more interesting than Coral, Brooke, and Merrick. I kind of wish they had more screen time than the main trio to be completely honest. Ever since I finished the book, I truly cannot recall anything significant (good and bad) about the main characters.

Despite all the qualms I had with this book, I do appreciate the sensitive topics that it does heavily focus on, which was mainly mental health. It was evident that the story heavily focused on mental health from the very beginning till the very end. I also appreciate how the concept had to be explained to the main characters so they can understand it better because sometimes we don't understand things that are caused by it.

Overall, I applaud the author for focusing on such important topics. However, the story had missed the mark in execution.
Profile Image for hallie bertling.
489 reviews26 followers
June 24, 2019
i'm going to attempt to put into (just a few) words how an anticipated book release can exceed any & all expectations.

it's like THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER. but instead of magical realism, it's a fairy tale. but instead of a fairy tale, it's real life.

with subtle references to the original hans christian andersen "the little mermaid" fairy tale, and deftly woven allusions to the disney classic, sara ella's CORAL stands on its own as a powerful tribute to life, loss, hope, depression, and mental health issues.

inspired by personal experiences and the thoughtful input of multiple sensitivity readers, sara ella has created a masterful tale (or tales) with multitudinous perspectives and real-life struggles and scenarios-- all so honestly (and painfully) relevant, particularly for the world today.

i think CORAL might be more wisely viewed as using THE LITTLE MERMAID as a framework for this book, and not merely a retelling. so don't go in expecting ariel's inner dialogue as eric rows her around under a willow tree trying to guess her name while scuttles sings off-key. it's much more weighty than that. & i'm so glad about it.

sara ella hasn't just put ariel & eric in street clothes & called it a modern retelling. she's taken merfolk lore, what makes them not human, and has those of us on land questioning our own souls and existence as well.

thoughtfully and sensitively exploring a variety of mental health issues from both above and below the surface, the author has given us a powerful book with which to explore our own humanity and connectedness.
replete with the powerful mantra:
You are Not Nothing.
You are Not Alone.

thank you, sara ella, for making this faerie tale ring with hope and healing, love, patience, and unity for us all. i can tell you poured your literal soul into this one, making sure that those who need to hear these messages know you're not pandering to them or just trying to give a motivational speech. but you've lived and loved and survived, and we're SO here for "after" with you.
August 5, 2020
I don't want to ever read this book, never ever again. I don't even know what all I should point in the book I hated, cuz I disliked the entirety of it, so cliché, so unoriginal. Nope. No.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 512 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.