ARC Review: Mermaid Moon by Susann Cokal


Sanna is a mermaid – but she is only half seavish. The night of her birth, a sea-witch cast a spell that made Sanna’s people, including her landish mother, forget how and where she was born. Now Sanna is sixteen and an outsider in the seavish matriarchy, and she is determined to find her mother and learn who she is. She apprentices herself to the witch to learn the magic of making and unmaking, and with a new pair of legs and a quest to complete for her teacher, she follows a clue that leads her ashore on the Thirty-Seven Dark Islands. There, as her fellow mermaids wait in the sea, Sanna stumbles into a wall of white roses thirsty for blood, a hardscrabble people hungry for miracles, and a baroness who will do anything to live forever.

My Review:

*Some Spoilers Ahead*

Mermaid Moon is a very loose retelling of The Little Mermaid mixed with subtle elements from other fairy tales. It is about a young mermaid named Sanna, who is half landish and half seavish. To find her landish mother who she has been cursed to forget, Sanna becomes the apprentice of a magical witch who teaches her how to transform her tail into legs, thus allowing her to journey across both worlds.

The first half of this book was rather odd. In Chapter One, we’re thrown into the book with practically no exposition at all, save the brief prologue that explains Sanna’s birth and how a spell was cast so her people and her mother would forget about said event. We know that Sanna is on a quest to find her mother, but we’re not sure how or why she plans to do that. Later in the story, background information is indeed provided that clears up any confusion, but it comes in the unfortunate form of info dumps. We’re given tediously long descriptions of who Sanna is, her past, and how she will journey across the land to find her mother. I feel like the first half of the story was way longer than necessary, and if compressed, could have eliminated a hundred pages or so of the book. By all means, I’m glad that the author wasn’t vague or dull in her set-up of the plot, but it did, unfortunately, come with the cost of my boredom.

What was vague, however, was this book’s world-building. Some aspects of it, at least. The main events of the story take place in the Thirty Seven Islands, a place that, to my knowledge, does not exist in the real world. But references are made to several European countries, such as France, Scotland, and even Ancient Rome. This leads me to believe that the book is set in some part of Europe, perhaps. Though the setting is based off of historical geography, there are many fantastical elements to the world, including the existence of mer-folk, which are known as the seavish. I was a bit confused when it came to the relationship between the landish and the seavish… It is established that the two peoples have some sort of trading system, but we’re given no further information explaining how that actually works. Since the landish and seavish trade with one another, you’d assume that they have a good relationship. But in the book, the mermaids discuss their fears of being caught and assaulted by landish men, which makes me wonder if their relationship is so great after all. I was just rather confused, and would have liked it if the author had cleared this aspect of the world up as the story was told.

The plot definitely picked up in the second half of the book. As the events unfold, we get closer and closer to the very exciting climax. Susann Cokal’s writing style is utterly bewitching, and it kept me invested in the story as it continued to progress. My only complaint is that I felt like the plot tended to stray from Sanna’s main goal to find her mother. Since that was set up to be the main focus of the plot, I was confused when that was hardly mentioned in the bulk of the book. Not only that, but at the end of the story when Sanna does find her mother, it seems rushed and lacking build-up.

Speaking of Sanna, though, I enjoyed her character a lot. She was smart and independent, and her character arc did not depend on being in a romantic relationship. She doesn’t really stand out amongst other female protagonists in YA, making her a somewhat forgettable character, but I appreciated her strength, determination, and kindness.

Taking everything into consideration, I’m glad I read Mermaid Moon, though there are definitely some things about it that knocked off a few stars from my rating. Susann Cokal’s writing is remarkably beautiful, and I hope to read more of her work in the future!

Final Rating:

File:2.5 stars.svg - Wikimedia Commons




2 thoughts on “ARC Review: Mermaid Moon by Susann Cokal

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