Review: My Fair Mermaid

There are many fun mermaid books on sale this month for MerMay. One of the ones that stood out to me was My Fair Mermaid by Sarah Beran. It seemed like such a novel idea to combine the story of "The Little Mermaid" with Pygmalion/My Fair Lady. Although the book could have taken any number of directions to have an arrogant man convert a mermaid into human society, it turned out to be a pretty literal interpretation of the source material by creating a world where mermaids speak differently from humans due to living underwater and must improve their diction to be understood. I wasn't a huge fan of turning the original "Little Mermaid" character into a villain, but I did enjoy the story's unique focus on a related mermaid who followed her to land out of concern for her, which was similar to the "Sisters of the Sea" visual novel in Time Princess.

Maribel is a mermaid with the unfortunate luck of being a cousin to Naia, the spoiled and selfish princess of the sea. When the two of them rescue a human prince from drowning, Naia is determined to follow him onto land and become his wife. She pressures Maribel into becoming her unwitting accomplice in a deal with Llyra, a mermaid with magical powers, who gives them each enchanted shell jewelry with the power to turn them both human. The terms of the bargain are somewhat convoluted, but the gist is that they must choose between being able to speak or having terrible pain in their new legs each time they walk. Naia decides that Maribel must bear the burden of the pain so she can comfortably stalk Prince Freddy until she manages to seduce him away from his fiancée.

Since Maribel is the only one of the two mermaids who can speak, Prince Freddy's friend Hadrian, a translator who is obsessed with diction, gets to work attempting to fix her diction so she can be more presentable in royal company. He makes a friendly wager with Freddy over a pair of slippers that he can pass Maribel off as a duchess by the next ball. Maribel struggles to pronounce certain human consonants with her mermaid tongue, but she improves over time and notices that she is growing feelings toward Hadrian in the process. Hadrian is a more likable character than Henry Higgins in this book. He is given a relatable backstory and often apologizes when he is called out on bad behavior. Maribel is easy to relate to as well, though it is a bit disheartening to see the selfless "Little Mermaid" character transformed into a wicked cousin.

The love story in this book is surprisingly charming. I never would have thought My Fair Lady would have made much sense if the main character was a mermaid, but somehow it works. There is a brief description of the mermaid world at the beginning of the story before the two are whisked away to fend for themselves on land. They are treated by the queen as two homeless women that the prince brought to the castle for some reason, which is not that far from the truth. Without being aware of their lineage, Hadrian gains respect for Maribel over time when he sees her organizational skills and her devotion to hard work. However, he refuses to believe she and Naia are mermaids no matter how many times she tries to explain it to him. Naia, on the other hand, is presented as manipulative, selfish, and completely unreasonable. Though I love "The Little Mermaid" and admire most interpretations of the character, I did not think Naia was worthy of redemption by the end of this book.

My Fair Mermaid by Sarah Beran offers a fresh and captivating twist on the classic tales of "The Little Mermaid" and Pygmalion. While it takes some creative liberties, the story charms with its unique focus on Maribel's journey and her unlikely romance with Hadrian. Despite some drawbacks, such as the villainous portrayal of Naia, the book shines with its well-developed characters, engaging plot, and sweet love story. If you're looking for a fun and imaginative read this MerMay, My Fair Mermaid is definitely worth diving into. With its lighthearted tone and entertaining premise, it's a great addition to your reading list. So, take the plunge and discover the magic of this underwater-inspired tale!


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