Two princesses (one earthbound, one aquatic) vie for the heart of a prince in this new twist on the classic fairy tale.
For 18-year-old mermaid princess Lenia, the world of men could not be a more exotic or fascinating place. Although her experience with humans is limited to the shipwrecks and dead sailors she comes across in her ocean-floor kingdom, she yearns for more. She gets her wish when she is finally permitted to go up and explore the surface, and has to save a young man from drowning during a storm. She delivers him to the shores of a convent and into the arms of a young novice. That girl, Margrethe, is actually the daughter of the northern king, hiding at the convent for her own protection. And, as luck would have it, the rescued sailor, Christopher, is the son of her father’s arch nemesis, the southern king. The two royals share an attraction, without knowing each other’s identity, and Christopher leaves without knowing Margrethe’s secret. Back with her merpeople family, a smitten Lenia pines for the prince and strives to find a way to be with him. Her quest takes her to the sea witch, Sybil, who informs her that becoming human is indeed possible, but comes with a steep price. Lenia has to give up her beautiful voice, and her lovely new legs will cause her chronic pain, like walking on knives. Also, Christopher must marry her if she is to survive and acquire a human soul. No matter. Lenia takes Sybil’s potion and goes to her beloved, who is indeed charmed by the mute otherworldly creature Lenia has transformed into. They become lovers, but she has competition. In order to stave off an almost inevitable war, Margrethe hatches a plan to marry Christopher herself, and unite their kingdoms. But while that might be good politics, it does not bode well for Lenia, who is unable to explain her situation to anyone. Faithful for the most part to Andersen’s dark fable, Turgeon’s (Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, 2009) version wisely gives voice to the mermaid’s rival, making the prince’s ultimate choice—and Lenia’s sacrifice—even more poignant.
A gothic love triangle with two equally matched heroines. This isn’t kid’s stuff.