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Literary Friday: The Mermaid's Daughter

Friday, March 10, 2017

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  This has been the week for mermaid stories, hasn't it! This is the second mermaid book I've reviewed this week.

About The Mermaid's Daughter

• Paperback: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 7, 2017)

A modern-day expansion of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, this unforgettable debut novel weaves a spellbinding tale of magic and the power of love as a descendent of the original mermaid fights the terrible price of saving herself from a curse that has affected generations of women in her family.

Kathleen has always been dramatic. She suffers from the bizarre malady of experiencing stabbing pain in her feet. On her sixteenth birthday, she woke screaming from the sensation that her tongue had been cut out. No doctor can find a medical explanation for her pain, and even the most powerful drugs have proven useless. Only the touch of seawater can ease her pain, and just temporarily at that. 

Now Kathleen is a twenty-five-year-old opera student in Boston and shows immense promise as a soprano. Her girlfriend Harry, a mezzo in the same program, worries endlessly about Kathleen's phantom pain and obsession with the sea. Kathleen's mother and grandmother both committed suicide as young women, and Harry worries they suffered from the same symptoms. When Kathleen suffers yet another dangerous breakdown, Harry convinces Kathleen to visit her hometown in Ireland to learn more about her family history.

In Ireland, they discover that the mystery—and the tragedy—of Kathleen’s family history is far older and stranger than they could have imagined. Kathleen’s fate seems sealed, and the only way out is a terrible choice between a mermaid’s two sirens—the sea, and her lover. But both choices mean death…

Haunting and lyrical, The Mermaid’s Daughter asks—how far we will go for those we love? And can the transformative power of music overcome a magic that has prevailed for generations?


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Brian Persinger

About Ann Claycomb

Ann Claycomb’s fiction has been published in American Short Fiction, Zahir, Fiction Weekly, Brevity, Hot Metal Bridge, The Evansville Review, Title Goes Here, and other publications. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has an MFA in fiction from West Virginia University.

My Review

For those of you who've followed me a long time, you know how I love fairytales.  This retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid is a cross between the classic and Disney's animated musical.  As I read the book, I kept hearing Ariel from the movie practice her vocal scales because the characters in the book are studying opera. But unlike Ariel, they wouldn't willingly agree to give-up their voices!  This book is much darker and morbid than I anticipated. Kathleen's family history is tragic, and she suffers terribly from her afflictions.  Poor Harry is beside herself with worry for much of the novel.

The book is very creative.  Claycomb does an amazing job retelling a classic story with a modern twist. I liked Harry's analytical mind and how she thought that writing down Kathleen's story could somehow help her (think analyzing a story in English 101).  Harry and Robin (Kathleen's father) believe that writing an opera for Kathleen will help her formulate a solution for her plight. I also like how it's told from multiple points of view: Harry's in "Aria for Mezzo Soprano" chapters, Robin's in "Composer's Notes" chapters, and Kathleen's in "Aria for Soprano" chapters. There is a fourth point of view in the book: the sea witches'.  I wasn't a huge fan of their backstory told in flashback.  I might have preferred a separate book for them, maybe a prequel.

My favorite thing about the book is Ann Claycomb's voice.  I think she's a wonderful storyteller, and I hope that she updates many more fairytales in the future.  There might even be a hint at the end of The Mermaid's Daughter about what's next, and if so, there will be a sequel with Harry writing another opera based on a fairytale.  Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part!

The Little Mermaid
Copenhagen, Denmark

Disclosure:  I received and ARC of The Mermaid's Daughter from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. This is such a different kind of story from what I usually read and I'm fascinated. The descendants of fairy tale characters might be a new obsession of mine now ...

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  2. Thank you!! I am pinning this one in my Books to Read file. :-)

  3. This sounds like quite a book...I have always been fascinated with mermaids, and have collected a few...not sure I would like this dark tale, I prefer a Disney style happy version :) Happy reading!

  4. it is totally a different story, and seems very interesting...

    Please visit:

  5. I'd love another author who is really good at retelling classic stories!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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