top of page

Mermaid Tales: A Booklist

This year mermaids have been big! We've had mermaid hair, mermaid crowns, mermaid tails (even the knitted blanket mermaid tails!) Not to mention the extraordinary flood of mermaid novels. This year I've seen so many mermaid inspired books hitting the shelves, for young and old alike - I'm not surprised as myths and folktales about mermaids and sirens and water spirits have been part of storytelling for centuries. With no two stories the same it is clear to see how varied and unique these creatures are. More recently adult and teen fiction has taken this trend to its very limit and has brought us more nuanced and complex mermaids then ever before. Here are some of my favourites:

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

It begins on an autumn night in 1785. Merchant Jonah Hancock waits anxiously for news of his ship, but a knocking at the door brings him instead a curio beyond his imagining: a sea goblin, a monster, a mermaid.

As the whisper of his find spreads across London, Jonah finds himself swept into an ambitious, topsy-turvy world of collectors, voyeurs, brothels and courtesans and into the path of Angelica Neal, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2018

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018

Published by Vintage.

You can shop this book via Waterstones here.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend have a dramatic break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Annika's home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety - not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound's easy affection. Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy's understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn. A masterful blend of vivid realism and giddy fantasy, pairing hilarious frankness with pulse-racing eroticism, The Pisces is a story about falling in obsessive love with a merman: a figure of Sirenic fantasy whose very existence pushes Lucy to question everything she thought she knew about love, lust, and meaning in the one life we have.

Published by Bloomsbury.

You can shop this book via Waterstones here.

The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan

A bewitching tale of first love, shattering grief, and the dangerous magic that draws us home. Mara's island is one of stories and magic, but every story ends in the same way.

She will finish her days on the cliff, turned to stone and gazing out at the horizon like all the islanders before her. Mara's parents - a boxer and a ballerina - chose this enchanted place as a refuge from the turbulence of their previous lives; they wanted to bring up their children somewhere special and safe. But the island and the sea don't care what people want, and when they claim a price from her family, Mara's world unravels.

It takes the arrival of Pearl, mysterious and irresistible, to light a spark in Mara again, and allow her to consider a different story for herself. The Gloaming is a gorgeous tale of love and grief, and the gap between fairy tales and real life.

Published by Vintage Publishing.

You shop this book via Waterstones here.

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

Once there was a fisherman who lived on a cold and rocky coast and was never able to convince any woman to come away and live in that forbidding place with him.

One evening he pulled up his net and found a woman in it. A woman with black hair and eyes as grey as a stormy sea and a gleaming fish's tail instead of legs.

The storm in her eyes rolled into his heart. She stopped her thrashing and crashing at his voice, though she did not understand his words. But her eyes had seen inside of him, and his loneliness caught her more surely than the net. So she stayed with him, and loved him, though he grew old, and she did not.

Remarks of this strange and unusual woman travelled from village to village and town to town, until they reached the ears of a man whose business was in the selling of the strange and unusual. His name was P.T. Barnum, and he'd been looking for a mermaid.

Published by Titan Books.

Shop this book via Waterstones here.

The Surface Breaks by Louise O'Neill

Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice?

The Little Mermaid is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, featuring the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans.

Published by Scholastic.

Shop this book via Waterstones here.

All the book synopsis included have been used from Waterstones with all links to the books provided.

© 2018 Blackbird Reviews


Recent Posts

See All

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins is without a doubt one of the most powerfully stunning debuts of 2019. I had heard Frannie Langton's name before I even knew about the book - a slave


bottom of page