2015 was the year Disney Princesses got the make-over treatment. We’ve seen the likes of Belle, Snow White and Aurora all tattooed up and reinvented as pin-up models, different races, as celebrities and even as everyday folk. Just as I was growing weary of this trend, I discovered one of the best reinventions yet.
A complete reinvention of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale, this is a magical-realist fable that captures the essence of sacrifice and the price of humanity.
**POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD**
I’m not that big in the fiction game. Yes, I ‘run’ a book club, but most of the books I read are biographical or analytical. This is something I’m hoping to change so when I won a signed copy of Drown (thanks Laura!), I was really excited.
“The eldest turned to the little mermaid and said, “The very air of the world is filled with the beating of a thousand hearts. It is enough to make anyone sick.”
I’m a big fan of adaptations especially if they are creative and darker than the original. With a line this so early on, I knew I was going to be hooked.
Focusing on the original Hans Christian Andersen’s tale as opposed to Disney’s remake, Drown is one of the most imaginative re-tellings I’ve ever come across. If you’re unfamiliar with the origin of this story, it’s not as happy as Disney makes it out to be. The Little Mermaid does indeed switch her beautiful voice for legs, but she is in agony with every step she takes. Although this and some other elements from the original are carried over, the talented Esther Dalseno really transforms this classic fairy tale.
It’s a cliche to say you couldn’t put a book down but this statement applies here. With such little time to read, I found myself picking up this book whenever I could. From the very first page, it’s immediately so eloquently written. What makes this re-telling stand out so much is Dalseno’s backstory which helps audiences understand the nature of mer-people and what makes The Little Mermaid so special. I also really enjoyed the fact that in the world of Drown, the witch is the most beautiful and powerful creature under the sea.
As well as transforming the world of The Little Mermaid, Drown also offers some interesting perspective on human nature too. A great example of this can be found when upon living above sea, The Little Mermaid is left feeling dumbfounded and ashamed when she experiences menstruation for the very first time.
Overall, this is a highly creative and awe-inspiring read. From the matte cover to the lyric-esque writing, everything about this book is flawless. It’ll definitely break you heart more than once but it’s worth the read.
Although it was clear the ending couldn’t be a happy one, it didn’t disappoint either. So for that, Drown gets a solid ten out of ten from me.