Review: The Mermaid’s Daughter – Ann Claycomb

Life is the bubbles under the sea!

Today’s review is on Ann Claycomb’s novel The Mermaid’s Daughter, targeted as a modern day retelling of The Little Mermaid.

While some aspects of the Disney classic can be seen, this retelling is more for those morbid readers who have read the Hans Christian tale of the same name.

If you’re unfamiliar with Anderson’s story of The Little Mermaid, basically the sea witch gives the mermaid legs, which are painful to walk on, the prince is a dink who rejects her, the sea witch makes a pact with the mermaids sisters and the mermaid is tasked with killing the prince.


Was The Mermaid’s Daughter as dark as its source material? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.

The Book

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?

The Review

This book is a retelling for the modern age.

Gone are the days of princes, long live princesses.

Katherine and Harry’s relationship was beautiful to read about, and while they were representative of the L in LGBTQ+, it was in by no means done in poor taste.

Harry loved Kathleen just as much as if the love interest was a man, to be honest maybe even more so, and I could honestly read another book if it had either of them in it.

The theme of music is interwoven into the plot, I mean the chapters tend to have ‘aria’ or ‘composer’ written in them, so I knew music was going to be pivotal.

I think it was adorable that even though he didn’t know what was going on with his daughter, Robin still loved Kathleen.

And it showed, given that he was stuck in how to write The Scarlet Letter opera but had no problem writing music for his daughter.

I think the other character I enjoyed was that of the sea.

It was ever changing, depending upon where the characters were, and we felt through Kathleen how the sea differed from Boston to Florida, to Ireland.

I would have enjoyed the Hans Christen Anderson short story woven into the later part of the book, where the sea witches voice was lacking, but even having it at all was a nice touch by Claycomb.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Links

Harper Collins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo

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