Book List

Under the Sea: 8 Little Mermaid Retellings to Swim Away with

April 26, 2017
Amy Beaudoin
Riveted Editorial Board

Fairy tale retellings are a hot commodity in teen lit, and there’s a simple reason – classics provide a fantastic base for a new and unique story. Anyone who knows me knows that I have the soul of a mermaid, so it only makes sense that I would gravitate to the retellings of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. It doesn’t matter if it’s a contemporary reimagining, an old-timey version with corsets and carriages and all that, or something completely out there, like space mermaids (seriously Marissa Meyer, I think you dropped the ball on leaving TLM out of the Lunar Chronicles, just saying), I love it all. Especially during Princess Week!

If you’re just as much of a land-mermaid AND fairy tale enthusiast as I am and need something to read, here are a couple of suggestions:

Midnight Pearlsby Debbie Viguie

Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Aster a strange thing happened.

They say the prince married a girl who was not what she appeared and that another girl who saved the kingdom vanished without a trace. Some said it was witchcraft. Some said it was only a legend. For those who knew the truth, it was magic....

Rescued from the sea at an early age, Pearl grew up within sight of the water...and the castle. With her pale skin and silvery hair, she was an outcast in the village. Her only friend was a boy she met on the beach -- a young prince named James, who understood Pearl's desire just to be like everyone else.

Their friendship is viewed from afar by many: a disdainful king, Pearl's worried foster parents, a jealous young mermaid, a lovestruck merman, and the powerful sea witch. Now a storm brews in the kingdom, with a tidal force that could keep Pearl and James apart.

Fathomlessby Jackson Pearce

Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant -- until Celia meets Lo.

Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea -- a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid -- all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.

Wreckedby Anna Davies

A mysterious stranger holds the key to Miranda’s fate in this contemporary retelling of “The Little Mermaid.”

Ever since the death of her parents, Miranda has lived on Whym Island, taking comfort in the local folklore, which claims a mysterious sea witch controls the fate of all on the island and in its surrounding waters. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe things are out of your control.

But then a terrible boating accident takes the lives of several of her friends, and Miranda is rescued by a mysterious boy who haunts her dreams. Consumed by guilt from the accident, she finds refuge in late-night swims—and meets Christian, a boy who seems eerily familiar, but who is full of mystery: He won’t tell her where he is from, or why they can only meet at the beach. But Miranda falls for him anyway…and discovers that Christian’s secrets, though meant to protect her, may bring her nothing but harm.

Seductive and compelling, Wrecked brings a contemporary, paranormal twist to a classic enchanting tale.

Mermaidby Carolyn Turgeon

Two sheltered princesses, one wounded warrior; who will live happily ever after?

Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father's greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom.

Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart….

A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page.

Monstrous Beautyby Elizabeth Fama

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences. Almost 140 years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra's help, Hester investigates her family's strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean―but, in Elizabeth Fama's Monstrous Beauty, powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

September Girlsby Bennett Madison

September Girls is a stunning coming-of-age novel about first loves, oblivious parents, sibling rivalries—and mermaids. This imaginative and painfully honest book garnered five starred reviews, including one from ALA Booklist that proclaimed it "a rare and lovely novel, deserving of attention from discriminating readers."

Whisked away by his father to an unusual beach town in the Outer Banks, Sam finds himself having the summer vacation most guys dream of. He's surrounded by beautiful blonde girls, and, better yet, they all seem inexplicably attracted to him. But there's definitely something strange about the Girls. They only wear flats because heels make their feet bleed. They never go swimming in the water. And they all want something from him.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaidsby Sarah Ockler

From the bestselling author of Twenty Boy Summer comes a “compelling and original” (Kirkus Reviews) novel about a talented singer that loses her ability to speak after a tragic accident, leading her to a postcard-perfect seaside town to find romance.

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: an ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother, Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly suppresses her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them…

Sirenaby Donna Jo Napoli

Sirena is cursed. She will not become immortal unless she is loved by a human man. The siren song she sings with her mermaid sisters makes men adore her -- yet it leads them to their deaths.

That is why she hides when she finds an abandoned young soldier. He wants to know her, though she should not let him near her or allow him to hear her sing. But how can she fight a love she has been waiting for all her life -- a love that will make her live forever?

Based on a story in Homer's Odyssey, Sirena is a tour de force by award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli.

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