Princess of Undersea
By: Leslie Conzatti
Summary: Two kingdoms—one towering over the water, the other deep beneath the waves—balance on the edge of calamity. King Theodore of Overcliff withers in the wake of hardship, while King Davor of Undersea rallies his people for war.
When Princess Ylaine gives up her most precious gift, in order to prove to her father that not all humans are evil, she doesn’t intend to fall in love—not at first. That changes when she meets Prince Nathan, but no sooner do they meet than forces conspire to keep them apart forever. Desperate for help, and finding none from their fathers, the two young royals turn to their mentors. Ylaine has Nayidia, her doting godmother, who has the power to grant her deepest wish. Nathan has Giles, his father’s steward, who not only knows who Nathan is, but also the man and king he may become. But will their help be enough? Can Ylaine and Nathan learn the meaning of true power, true leadership, and true love before it’s too late? Can two worlds, two lives, two hearts, truly become one?
Some stories live forever—Timeless Tales which transcend the age in which they were written. Princess of Undersea is a re-imagining of the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid. (via Amazon)
The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite classic fairytales. From the original Hans Christen Anderson version, to the Disney adaptation with catchy songs that made it a staple of my childhood, and everything in between. Leslie is a friend of mine for whom I beta-read another yet-to-be-published novel of hers, The Last Inkweaver. Having previously enjoyed her writing, when I found out she had published a novella featuring one of my favorite stories, I was eager to pick it up. And I’m happy to say that for the most part, it did not disappoint.
- New Twists: All retellings aim to make their story stand apart from the original, but what I particularly enjoyed about this one was the way that Leslie was able to take elements of the story that were so familiar, and flip them on their head so that they still carried an air of nostalgia, while also enhancing them to create something entirely new. I won’t spoil anything, but I noticed several Easter Eggs that reminded me of other adaptations without overtly reminding me I was reading a retelling, and they were a joy to find.
- Mythology: Though it is slight, in the midst of the action, Leslie manages to broaden the mermaid mythology and their relationship with humans in a unique and delightful way that left me wanting to see more of their traditions and world; both from the time before the story began, and after it ended.
- Depth: Unlike previous adaptations, and even the original tale, where the main conflict of the story revolved around the relationship of the mermaid and the prince, while it is a high-priority here, it is not the only thing at stake. There is more to Ylaine’s desire to see land than just a single act involving a handsome human, and that foundation was something I very much applauded.
- Description: One of the most notable changes made in this novella was the appearance of the merpeople themselves. The attempt was admirable and would have made for an interesting contrast to the way I usually picture such creatures, but unfortunately, the description was not vivid enough that the distinctness of this approach stuck in my head. I was instead picturing a strange hybrid of Disney-esque merpeople and the few traits from this book, such as gills on their necks, that stood out to me. I didn’t need their appearance to be spelled out for me, but I wish that the descriptions of their movements and differences in appendages had been further emphasized in the beginning of the book.
- Abrupt Ending: Now, I know because I follow the author on social media that this story was intended to only be part of an anthology, and due to circumstances was extended to the novella that currently exists (for which I’m extremely grateful). In spite of that, however, I still felt like the ending was too open. Even though the main conflict with Ylaine was resolved, the depth and other plot lines I mentioned earlier still dangled by the last page. I wish there would have been another few pages, or even a sequel, to give those additions the attention they deserved. Though, I have heard that the author will be releasing an epilogue once she reaches ten reviews, so I’m excited to see where that will leave us.
Overall, Princess of Undersea was an enjoyable, quick read that I would gladly pick up again.
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars. Recommended for fans of The Little Mermaid or fairytale retellings in general.
The Healers Apprentice by Melaine Dickerson
Summary: Two Hearts. One Hope. Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter’s daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her—a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill. When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she’s never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny. (via Amazon)