Christina Barr’s The Dark Mermaid is The Little Mermaid with a twist. Banished from Atlantica after showing compassion to a human, Luna joins forces with the infamous Sea Witch in a bid for survival. Under the Sea Witch’s tutelage she grows in strength and ability, flourishing into a fearsome warrior. She has until she comes of age to kill Jake, the boy she saved from drowning, or give her life in place instead.
This book was one that held great promise. Published by an indie author, I loved the premise, who doesn’t love a story with a dark twist? Some of the characters from the Disney version even made brief cameos, adding a lightness to the plot and giving a subtle nudge to fans. I really wanted to love this book.
However, despite the author’s best intentions, the story fell flat. The writing would have been more suited for a middle grade level: simple and stilted, the plot line transitions were rough, making the story a difficult one to follow. The dialogue was confusing, several sentences I had to reread in an effort to understand what was going on. There were also a number of spelling errors, a personal pet peeve of mine, a notable one being the use of sorcerous instead of sorceress. I also felt like the plot ended suddenly, with several loose ends. Being the first in a series I imagine Carr will tie them up in the next book, but for someone who likes closure there was none, despite 252 pages of writing.
This book held so much promise and I feel like it would have been strengthened with the assistance of a good editor and publisher. While I wish Barr the best of luck in her career as an author, she still has a long way to go in the way of improving her writing. Sadly, this book only gets a 2 out of 5 stars for a creative premise, but not much else to back it.
Looking for more Little Mermaid remakes? This Harper’s Bazaar article spills the detail on three different live action film versions in the chute, including one from Disney.