My review of The Mermaid’s Pendant

3/5 stars for good characterization, but too much detail and crass language, 2/4 hearts due to a few prayers to Jesus and God, but not much else. It’s almost a 1 heart rating, but since it’s not completely spiritually dead, I gave it two. NOTE: This is not a Christian book, but a secular fantasy novel.

About the book:

Inspired by the beloved classic The Little Mermaid, THE MERMAID’S PENDANT is a modern fairy tale about growing up and discovering who you are—and what you believe in. At times lyrical, this novel is a fantastic journey filled with magic, myth, romance, and adventure.

Four years after John Wilkerson claims the mermaid Tamarind for his wife, they have an idyllic marriage that depends on a talisman that she crafted on their island paradise. But Tamarind learns a painful truth: it takes more than legs to live on land and more than magic to sustain a bond. When the talisman breaks, she and John are forced to rely on themselves instead of magic.

Three wise women play key roles in the young lovers’ journey to mature love. Ana, Tamarind’s aging mentor, casts spells and performs seductions to keep the lovers apart. Valerie, an ex-pat jewelry maker cum fairy godmother, works her own magic to bring them together. Lucy, their widowed neighbor, grounds the couple in the realities of marriage, parenting, and family.

My review:

It’s more like 3.5 stars…

Let me explain my reasoning. First, I have never read the story about the Little Mermaid, nor have I even seen the Disney cartoon. Hey, I have boys, and it’s not their thing. So I can’t give it a plus or minus on how closely it fits to the actual fairy tale. In regards to the length of this book, I could easily see it divided into two or three books. It was too long, and could have been more effective if it was a series. That said, there were a lot of things to like about this book. I loved how the first part of the story was set in Puerto Rico. I don’t recall ever reading a novel in this setting before, so that was nice.

The characterization was also pretty good. I felt like I knew John and Tamarind on a deeper level than the other characters because I understood much of their internal conflict. On the flip side there were too many points of view, though there was thankfully no head hopping. That would’ve driven me crazy. I don’t think it was necessary to be in so many people’s heads. Maybe Ana’s, John’s, Tamarind’s and Zoe’s. The rest seemed to bog things down. And while I liked Lucy, I am not sure why she was in there as deeply as she was toward the end. Yeah, she was a good version of an old mentor, but all of the complex stuff with her kids and grandkids seemed to take away from the overall story.

I did like the subplot with the medicine and the crooked doctors at John’s company, though I’m not sure I needed that much detail either, or any of the points of view. It would have been just as enjoyable with less. Their were spurts of faith in Jesus and God mentioned in the book, but more from a religious perspective. I was surprised (in a good way) that a few characters prayed once or twice. I didn’t really get the magic part of the story or the reason that Ana was so set on messing with Tamarind’s life. I thought I would understand that at some point but it must’ve gone over my head somehow. I didn’t see it. The language was a bit rough at times. If you dislike F bombs or an occasional semi-graphic sex scene, you will not want to read this story. Same with the black magic. That bird Ai gave me the creeps.

Overall, this was a good story. It just got bogged down at times with so many details and could have been shorter. The fact that I actually finished it is a compliment because I’ve given up on about fifty books this year, many of them no more than 250 – 300 pages in length. This book is almost twice that length.

Did I enjoy the story? Yes. Would I read it again? Probably not (due to the length, mostly.) Would I recommend it just anyone? No. Christians who don’t like to read about sordid things will find some parts of this book offensive. Same with teenagers. Had there been less references to sexual situations and fewer cuss words, it would have been a much stronger book. Regardless, it challenged my mind and made me think, and I liked that.

The Mermaid’s Pendant was published by Zephon books and released in March 2010.

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