Review: The Little Mermaid

Published by Pushkin’s Children’s Books
Published on 3rd October 2019

This is a beautifully illustrated new translation of The Little Mermaid from the original by Hans Christian Anderson.  The descriptive language is beautiful and evocative, and the black and white illustrations are stunning with the mermaids picked out in black ink whilst the surroundings are mostly detailed outline drawings.

Deep in the sea stands the idyllic castle of the Sea King where he lives with his six daughters and their Grandmother.  His youngest daughter’s favourite possession is a marble statue of a handsome boy; she yearns to join the human world, yet she is not allowed up to the surface until she is 15.

When her fifteenth birthday finally arrives, she sees a young Prince celebrating his birthday.  A sudden storm leads to her rescuing the Prince as his ship is destroyed but, of course, he doesn’t know who his saviour is, which causes heartbreak later.

The young mermaid is so determined to be with the Prince and gain an immortal soul that she seeks the help of the terrifying Sea Witch who takes her voice and gives her a potion that will make her human.  If she cannot make the Prince fall in love with her, she will be doomed to death …

The youngest mermaid is a sympathetically drawn character who yearns for both human love and an immortal soul.  When given the opportunity to save herself, she is not prepared to sacrifice her love which leads to a re-awakening after facing terrible hardship and disappointment.  This was not an ending I was expecting, but it felt satisfying.

This is certainly not the Disney version of the story, but it is a rich re-telling which I really enjoyed. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Pushkin Children’s Books for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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