Book Review: 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? Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.”

I’m going to start this review off by telling you the one thing that made me drop everything to read this book. The Surface Breaks is a feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid. I repeat A FEMINIST RETELLING OF THE LITTLE MERMAID!

We probably all know the story of Ariel who is a sweet little mermaid who trades her voice for human legs. Well, forget about all of that because this retelling is so much darker and filled with patriarchy. Mermaids are expected to look pretty, be quiet and live just for men’s pleasure. However, our main character, Gaia has had enough and she tries to escape from this life.

This book is written in first person past tense which isn’t my personal favourite but I didn’t notice it bothering me at all. It actually made the book easier and quicker read for me.

Throughout the book there is some very pretty use of language that created a fairytale feeling for the reader. The world-building was well done and made me wish I could visit these places just to see their beauty for myself.

The book wasn’t perfect. It had flaws but even through them, I felt like it was too enjoyable to put down and that to me is a good enough reason to rate it 4 stars.

My main disappointment with this book came towards the end. It felt a little too rushed as a lot was happening at once. This is why I didn’t rate the book a full 5 stars. I wouldn’t let that stop me from recommending or rereading this book though.

In my opinion, this is the best retelling of The Little Mermaid that I have ever read. It also has a stunning cover which I’m a sucker for.

My rating: ★★★★☆

Find this book over on Amazon. This is an affiliate link so I may earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting this blog.

Have you read The Surface Breaks? Does this book seem like something you’d be into?

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