Drown: A Twisted Take on the Classic Fairy Tale by Esther Dalseno

Drown by Esther Dalseno Book Cover

Book Summary

Seven emotionless princesses.
Three ghostly sirens.
A beautiful, malicious witch haunted by memories.
A handsome, self-mutilating prince.

Belonging to a race that is mostly animal with little humanity, a world obsessed with beauty where morality holds no sway, a little mermaid escapes to the ocean’s surface. Discovering music, a magnificent palace of glass and limestone, and a troubled human prince, she is driven by love to consult the elusive sea-witch who secretly dominates the entire species of merfolk. Upon paying an enormous price for her humanity, the little mermaid begins a new life, uncovering secrets of sexuality and the Immortal Soul. As a deadly virus threatens to contaminate the bloodstreams of the whole merfolk race, the little mermaid must choose between the lives of her people, the man she loves, or herself.

Book Details

Drown by Esther Dalseno
Young Adult  \ Fairy Tale \ Retellings
Published October 31st 2015 by 3 Little Birds Books
Paperback, 220 pages
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Source: Bought


Book Review

Drown is a gorgeously written, hauntingly beautiful rendition of the classic Little Mermaid. Faithful to Hans Christian Andersen's themes, it is a tale that will take you on a journey with the littlest mermaid as she discovers the joys and pains it is to be human. It is a quest to find a soul and the love of a prince. 

The story of the Little Mermaid, the original, left and indelible mark upon me at a young age. I remember the last lines, as she threw the knife into the sea and the first rays of the sun were just coming across the water. My heart broke as her mermaid sisters cried for her, their hair shorn by the Sea Witch in hopes of saving her, and that moment she turns to seafoam and yet the hope for an eternal soul was there - bittersweet and eternal at last.  

With Drown, an "homage to Hans Christian Andersen", author Esther Dalseno remarks on Goodreads that she "decided to write Drown in such a way that it could almost be perceived as an unabridged yet alternate version of the original tale, found buried in a dusty chest in the annexes of an old Danish library." And, it is that and so much more.

Have you ever wanted to know what really lies below the surface of the waters and the mermaids origins, why the Sea Witch seemed so much more than ever written, and the littlest mermaid's true desire to be human beyond her initial feelings for the prince? 

I brought you here to tell you this: sometimes what we are searching for does not exist. We may sacrifice for it, even bleed for it, but it was never meant to be ours.

Drown feels like an unexplored fairy tale that has come to light. Told from a unique narrator's voice and with no names, the reader is treated to a fantastic, dark and rich world, a twisted tale of the Little Mermaid. The atmosphere, both below the sea and the castle, are so well drawn. The characters, from the littler mermaid to the prince, the Sea Witch, and the mermaid king, as well as her mermaid sisters, are all given a new depth that I just devoured the story in a sitting.

If you are a fan of fairy tale retellings or Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid, Drown is a must read. The cover is simply stunning, the story is even better!