Review: Of Songs and Seashells

Of Songs and Seashells by T.M. Franklin is another book I saw advertised recently on Facebook that drew me in with the prospect of mermaids despite having very little mermaid content once I actually read it. It's an adaptation of "The Little Mermaid" that takes place after the fairy tale when the title character became a daughter of the air. I've always loved this concept because so few people have taken the time to explore exactly what that means. That's why I wrote my own adaptation of "The Little Mermaid" to explore it. At that time, there weren't any adaptations I was aware of that kept the original ending. This story was very different from the one I wrote and not my cup of tea.

If you plan on reading this book, make sure you are familiar with Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid." I know that should be a given, but there are so many people who think that the Disney movie was the original story that it's important to note here. Though the author provides a brief recap, a lot of the book is written with the expectation that the reader already knows Lily's backstory and spends very little time fleshing it out. In this world, the daughters of the air look like ordinary people and are able to interact with humans if they so choose. Due to her torrid past, Lily simply chooses not to. This changes at the beginning of the book when she rescues a boy who witnesses her powers and decides to introduce her to his supernaturally gifted family. After that, it turns into an Avengers style superhero story with few classic fairy tale elements.

Though Lily meets a new love interest in this story named Bash, their relationship is underplayed in favor of discussions about psychic powers and saving the world from Ondine, the sea witch who cursed her in her past. It felt a little like reading a teen drama from the CW filled with teen angst and people struggling to understand control their powers. Lily is revealed to be about a century old since both daughters of the air and mermaids can live for up to 300 years, but she still behaves like a teenager. It seemed like the author wanted to write a vampire book but decided to do a "Little Mermaid" retelling instead. I think the Twilight crowd might get more out of this than I did.

The most disappointing thing about this book was the complete lack of world-building for Lily's life as a mermaid. She never mentions anything about her family in the sea and never goes to visit her underwater home in spite of her newfound superpowers. Even as a daughter of the air, she seems more like a human than a spirit. She's a one dimensional character who seems to have learned very little about the world despite wandering it for a century. The book is basic "save the world" plot that dangles "The Little Mermaid" as bait.

If you're a fan of "The Little Mermaid" looking for a compelling retelling, this is one you can skip. A better option would be the book I reviewed last week, Song of the Sea by Deborah Grace White. Of Songs and Seashells is a typical superhero story full of teen angst with very little depth. It's pretty harmless for teen readers who are looking for some fun summertime reads but doesn't add much to the original fairy tale. When I read the ending to "The Little Mermaid," I imagined the main character as an angelic spirit watching over humanity, not a jaded girl who happens to be able to fly.


Sugar said…
The comment came out a bit strange, oops.
Anonymous said…
Hi! I love reading your blog and finding other people who also enjoy the magic and wonder of all things princesses. 😊 I am currently writing a book that is going to be *fingers crossed* a part of a ongoing series based on fairytales. I was wondering if once I finish writing it, you would be willing to read it and give feedback. This may be several years down the line but I would love to know if you would be willing because I love the insight you provide on other fairytale based books.
Lisa Dawn said…
I'd be happy to provide feedback on your book! You can email me through the link in my profile.
Lisa Dawn said…
Hi Sugar,

I did see your comment, and I completely agree! Have you checked out my book, Of Land and Sea?
Sugar said…
Not yet! I am a student with a low budget so I need to wait to buy books!

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