3 out of 4 stars
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If you have ever heard of the original version of the “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen, then you know that is not as fluffy and sweet as the Disney version. It is full of pain, deceit, and death in such a disturbing way that you would not want to share with your child right before bedtime. In Mystic Tides, author C.J. Godwin takes Andersen’s tale and brings it back to life.
Seventeen-year-old Aden Wilder moves from his home in Alaska to Florida with his aunt when his father relocates to a new job. Unsure of this change, he finds the transition fairly easy. The ocean is peaceful, the animals are sweet, but most importantly Kailani is enticing. When he first hears this beautiful girl’s angelic voice, he finds it impossible to not think about her. Things begin to look up when Kailani finally looks in his direction. However, a secret she has kept from all begins to surface and Aden only begins to scratch the surface of this new world.
Told in alternating perspectives, the author presents a very creative tale that bounces off “The Little Mermaid”. I found myself flipping through pages and never realizing how much I read in one sitting in this quick read. Most characters are likable, and overall, as a reader, I was rooting for everything to work out. Themes of love, honesty, persistence, and there are two sides to every story can be found within these pages.
Being a young adult read, I can see many people in this age range fall in love with Aden’s and Kailani’s relationship and the way they care for each other. This is mainly because the story has that “love at first sight” fairy tale kind of feeling that teenagers dream about. Though this is a somewhat unrealistic love, it is not as unrealistic as “The Little Mermaid” and has more depth than that of the original tale.
It is clear the author put forth much effort in connecting pieces of how the original tale and the mythical creatures in the story connect. However, I felt there were perhaps too many pieces to the puzzle here. Sometimes I had to reread sections to try to fully understand the new pieces of information given. Without giving too much away, the readers learn or read about mermaids, Greek mythology gods/creatures, fairies, a magical ritual, some Pagan beliefs, and more in merely 200 pages. At the end especially, I felt overwhelmed because I was ready to have the story come to a close, but then I was given a slew of other new information.
Overall, the story was inventive and a fun one to get into. With perhaps saving some of the new information for its subsequent book, I feel many will enjoy this one. I give Mystic Tides a 3 out of 4 stars and recommend it to those who want to explore more of “The Little Mermaid” tale and enjoy reading about young love.
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