Title: The Mermaid’s Madness
Author: Jim C. Hines
Publisher: Daw Books
Publishing Date: October 6, 2009
Paperback: 352 pages
Stand Alone or series: book 2 in the Princess Novels’ series
Why did I read the book: I read the first one and loved it.
How did I get the book: Bought
There is an old story — you might have heard it — about a young mermaid, the daughter of a king, who saved the life of a human prince and fell in love.
So innocent was her love, so pure her devotion, that she would pay any price for the chance to be with her prince. She gave up her voice, her family, and the sea, and became human. But the prince had fallen in love with another woman.
The tales say the little mermaid sacrificed her own life so that her beloved prince could find happiness with his bride.
The tales lie.
Review: After reading and enjoying The Stepsister Scheme, I immediately picked up its sequel, The Mermaid’s Madness, and ended up enjoying it even more than the first one.
The three princesses Sleeping Beauty (Talia), Snow White (Snow) and Cinderella (Danielle) return and this time, they must face another fairytale princess turned villain: The (not so) Little Mermaid.
The story opens and it’s one year after the events of The Stepsister Scheme. Princess Danielle and her mother-in-law Beatrice are at high seas, preparing to parley with the Undine in their annual meeting when they exchange tributes and reinforce their association. But this time around something goes awry when they are attacked by a group of merfolk led by their new Queen, Lirea – she is looking for her missing sister and she believes Queen Bea is keeping her. Lirea ends up stabbing the Queen who falls into a magic-induced coma. The undine declare war against the humans until the queen’s sister is returned. This is when Danielle and Talia learn that Snow knows where the mermaid is and why is Queen Bea keeping her. It turns out, she is hiding in fear of her sister’s madness, a madness that comes from her tragic story, a gritty and sad story worse than anyone ever thought.
A young girls fall in love with a prince and her sorceress grandmother helps her become human so that she can woo him. In order to become fully human he has to marry her within six days. The prince uses the young princess and ditches her without ever committing because no Prince could ever marry a half-animal; driven by grief, the mermaid stabs the prince with an enchanted knife provided her grandmother (which is the same knife used to stab Queen Bea) ; in her guilt and sadness the mermaid goes crazy, kills her father and older sister and is in search of her other sister for revenge for helping in the creation of the knife.
It is this knife that Snow, Danielle and Talia must find in order to save Queen Bea and on their perilous journey (full of adventure!) they will meet many friend and foe and they will once again, save the day but not before realising some truths about themselves.
Now, this is what I am talking about: a good, adventurous story, great fighting sequences, with truly fleshed out characters. This time around, we get the three princesses’ PoV and I loved it. These three are absolutely great characters: courageous, determined, interesting far from being timid, spineless, feeble protagonists. They are also complex: Snow for example, has a tendency to get lost in a power trip whenever she is using her magic; Talia is on the brink of losing control – not only for feeling guilty for not preventing the attack on the Queen but for her unrequited love for Snow (by the way, I am so shipping these two). Danielle is concerned about her son and what exactly did the black magic used to speed up her pregnancy DO to him. Plus her need to clean whenever she is anxious is both funny and a bit sad.
The true tragedy and sadness of the story lie in finding out that the villain is far from being one-dimensional. Instead, even though it is clear that she really must be stopped, it is impossible not to feel sympathy for her. And towards the end, there is a new revelation that was somewhat sad but not unexpected – and I think that will open a new possible thread in the next instalments. And I can’t wait to read them – these books are fun, quick reads and the author do not keep from packing some punches. I can feel such a potential for this series and I am deeply connected with these characters: I totally, truly LIKE them.
Notable Quotes/ Parts:
The final showdown between Talia and the Little Mermaid – when Talia knows what she must do, Lirea knows what must be done and it is not only sad but poignant. Especially when Talia says that she “knows”: because she too, was never lucky in love.
Additional Thoughts The next book in the series will be released in 2010 and is called Red Hood’s Revenge:
Roudette’s story was a simple one. A red cape. A wolf. A hunter.
Her mother told her she would be safe, so long as she kept to the path. But sometimes the path leads to dark places.
Roudette is the hunter now, an assassin known throughout the world as the Lady of the Red Hood. Her mission will take her to Arathea and an ancient fairy threat. At the heart of the conflict between humans and fairies stands the woman Roudette has been hired to kill, the only human ever to have fought the Lady of the Red Hood and survived:
The princess known as Sleeping Beauty.
Verdict: These books are a lot of fun and of the highest quality. The Fantasy elements are great, the twists to known fairytales are creative and the characters…. I just love them. And where else can you get a Sleeping Beauty that is gay and a ninja?
Rating: 7 – very good, leaning towards a 8
Reading next: The Magicians by Lev Grossman