Thousands of years ago, stories about mermaids came from our collective unconscious. They can be found all over the world. This is not like Disney’s cute movie about Ariel, who wears bikinis and has red hair. Most of these myths and tales are very dark and scary. Each one has a lot of things in common, like that the mermaid is often a bad person, or that she can curse and draw people to her. Mermaids often sing and have a sweet voice or a talent that makes other women want to be like them.
The title character in my book, The Mermaid of Black Conch, is cursed by other women and, yes, she has a lovely singing voice. There was an old Taino myth that was changed in the book. When Aycayia, a young indigenous woman, is caught by Americans during a fishing competition, she hides her sexuality in her tail. The Americans save Aycayia and she claims her erotic rite of passage. That’s not all. She also changes the people she meets This is a list of some of the mermaid books I’ve looked up to and been inspired by while I was writing my own story.
Elijah’s Mermaid by Essie Fox
Pearl is a young woman who was raised in a brothel called The House of Mermaids. The House of Mermaids is where Pearl was raised. Pearl has a small flaw. If so, what is her name? You’ll have to keep reading. This is an eerie Victorian story about sexuality, pornography, and child abuse. It’s well-written and has a killer twist at the end. As someone who writes historical fiction, Fox is very good at it. The traditional faces of the mermaid (outsider, shape-shifter, siren, madwoman) come to life in her hands. Fox writes like the lovechild of Sarah Waters and Angela Carter.
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
A novella based on a rap song with the same name. This is an Africanized version of the mermaid. They were pregnant when they were thrown overboard during the middle passage, and they gave birth in the depths of the ocean. Their kids are safe in communities under the sea. To get back the painful memories her people have, Yetu swims to the surface. She is a history teacher, so she knows how to hold them. When she gets back on land, she has to face a terrible truth: the history of her people. Lambda Literary Award winner: This book has just won a Lambda Literary Award. It is already a modern African American speculative fiction classic.
Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué
Novella: Melusine is a French myth about a river maiden who marries a French nobleman on the condition that he doesn’t look at her while she’s in the bath. Unlike the other stories, Undine was written by a French nobleman. In this one, the hero is married to a knight, and only later does she reveal that she isn’t all human. When he falls in love with another woman, Undine punishes him for cheating with a kiss that makes him die.
The Pisces: A Novel by Melissa Broder
There aren’t many modern stories about mermaids in American books. Too much Disney and Tom Hanks in the mix has, in the past, made the mostly somber genre too cutesy. I really like this book because the main character is a man, which makes it even better. “The tail of Theo’s “dick” starts below his “tail.” This is a love story between Lucy and Theo, and it’s also sexy. Lucy is trying to get over a breakup and lives in Venice Beach, California. She tries to start over on Tinder, but it doesn’t work very well for her at all. For the fishy sex scenes, read this story.
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower
This is the real deal mermaid mystery, written by a first-time author. The hybrid creature is living a sad life as a man’s love object. Love story, fish story, and historical drama all in one. It’s set in England in the 1800s. Buy it for the beautiful language and descriptions of the fish-woman who is trapped in two places at once. It’s one of my favorite books on the list.
The Sea Lady by HG Wells
This is one of Wells’s less-known books, but it is one of his best. A fantasy romance, like many mermaid stories. Doris Thalassia Waters, a mermaid who came ashore, wants to marry a ne’er-do-well who is already married to someone else. There’s nothing that can stop her, and when Chatteris gives in, he dies. Even though it’s fun to read, The Sea Lady is also a look at social issues. The book talks about nature, sex, the imagination, and the ideal in an Edwardian world where moral rules are being relaxed. Her job is to seduce and to send messages.
The Mermaid Wakes by Canute Caliste and Lola Berg
When Caliste, an artist from the Caribbean island of Carriacou, told people he had seen mermaids, they thought he was crazy. He often painted them. This picture book was important research for my book. People in the Caribbean make art of mermaids all the time, but Caliste’s mermaids are thought to be the best-known. These 22 paintings are all by Berg, and there is some kind of story behind them, too. A must-have for anyone who wants to learn more about Caribbean art and mermaid myths.
The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N McIntyre
A Game of Thrones didn’t win a Nebula award in 1997. This sci-fi book did, and it won the award. As The King’s Daughter, it was made into a movie. During the reign of the Sun King, a “sea monster” is caught and turns out to be a woman. She is also intelligent and aware. Yet again, we see that the mermaid story has a lot of feminism in it. Men try to keep or eat her, and women try to get her free. Finally, she is freed and shows her human friends where a huge hoard of sunken treasure is hidden, which they can find. When you think of Ursula K. Le Guin and mermaid stories, think of Ursula K. Le Guin. Quite clever.
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
Disney has messed up this very dark Danish fable a lot in this movie. She falls in love with the prince she saves from a sinking ship in the original story. To meet him on land, she makes a deal with the sea witch. In exchange for human legs, she agrees to cut out her tongue. Because this isn’t very good. They meet and she gets her legs. She can’t talk, so the prince treats her like a pet. In the end, he gets married to another person. They turn her into an air sprite. If you don’t like being yourself, don’t read this.
Ingo by Helen Dunmore
First in a series of four young adult books that are based on Cornwall’s Mermaid of Zennor, this is the first book in a series of three. It’s called Ingo, and Sapphire is a young girl who hasn’t seen her father for a long time. She’s lured there by a proud merman named Faro. Faro shows her his undersea city and people, and she learns how to breathe in the water as well. When she comes back, she’s been away for two days. She then craves salt and hears her name called by the sea. As time goes on, she and her friend Conor stop divers from getting too close to the Ingo sacred burial grounds. This is a mix of the mermaid story and a Famous Five type of story.