Great Gerta and the Mermaid — Mari Ness

For all fans of Peter Pan and Neverland.

A fun story about one of Hook’s pirates, Great Gerta.   It’s also nice that we finally get some mermaids taking a more prominent role in a Neverland story.

Definitely deserves a place in the “Peter Pan and Neverland” hall of fame.

Best of all, you can read this for free at Lightspeed magazine, or listen to the podcast like i did.

And why not sign up to Lightspeed Magazine Story Podcast while you’re here, or there, and make sure you never miss another great story?

Mari’s Page

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Sealskin — Su Bristow

It came up cheap on a Kindle deal some time ago and i thought i may as well throw it in “The Pile” and give it a read when i had a mermaid binge.

And i think i’m very glad i did.

The story is set in some far out Scottish fishing village way back somewhere in time.   Su really does give the reader a feel of what life must have been like for these rural fishing folk and their families in these isolated far flung villages before newspapers, radios, telephones, television and even local doctors.   Where you’d have to rely on the local herbalist, or hedge witch, for your healthcare needs.

Sometimes it’s pretty grim.   As i say, it’s set way back in time when simple folk live rather simple lives in simple villages, and the story begins with a fairly simple fisherman hiding a Selkie’s seal skin while she’s out of it and then raping her when she can’t go back to the water.   Don’t worry if you’re not up on what a Selkie is, the story covers all you need to know.   I would even say it’s probably better if you don’t know about Selkies because this is an expansion of an old folk story about Selkies and if you’ve read that story then you just might guess the ending of this one.

So having raped her he takes her back to his cottage and later returns to collect her seal skin.

And so the story begins and plays out amongst these old world fisher folk of the village.   And it’s really good, even in all it’s old world grimness.

It’s incredibly well written in a nice, easy flowing prose, and one can really fall completely into the story without disruption or distraction.

Lots of kudos goes out to all writers who revive these old folk tales for us all to enjoy in our modern times.

Su’s Page

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The Mermaid — Christina Henry

Another great story from Christina.

I certainly feel rewarded for reading The Little Mermaid and The Fabulous Showman before diving straight into this, as they do give one the feeling and attitude of the age and thereby give this story a sense of genuine realism.   So i would certainly recommend reading both before hand if you’re looking for a more immersive experience from this story.

Reading a work of fiction that contains real historical characters, in their real historical places, in their real historical time, while only twisting the factual narrative where needed to make the fictional narrative fit, was, at times, quite emotionally disturbing.   One can truly feel for Amelia as though she is a genuine historical person, because all the people around her were genuine historical people.

For example, Barnum really did put a huge tank into his museum, but he put whales in it.   And the way in which he treats the mermaid in this story is not too dissimilar to how he treated the whales; one can almost read this story as the story of those whales with Amelia’s voice speaking for them.   Sadly, the whales never had a voice, nor did they have someone like Levi to champion their corner; each successive pair of whales suffered awfully and died, entertaining the ignorance of the masses while nicely filling Barnum’s bank account.   It made me feel genuinely uncomfortable and moved in ways that an ordinary work of fiction simply cannot.   So, yes, do read the above mentioned two books before this, it really is quite the experience and one i certainly recommend.

As with all of Christina’s books, the writing is wonderful, flowing and, for me, perfectly edited.   A wonderful read.   It really does capture the feeling and attitude of the age.

Christina’s latest book, The Girl in Red, is out now.   All aboard for a Little Red Riding Hood reading binge.

Christina’s Page

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The Fabulous Showman — Irving Wallace

I decided to read this to give me a little background before reading The Mermaid by Christina Henry and i’m really glad i did.   What a wonderful piece of history and a very interesting man.

I think, after reading this book, that if we want to blame anyone for the current cult of celebrity, modern advertising and marketing, tabloid journalism, etc., then we need look no further than P.T. Barnum.   While he may, or may not, have invented these things, he certainly brought them all together and exploited them in ways that no one was prepared for.

I do feel that this book does him justice though.   In exploring his background and reasons, from a stifled puritan childhood in a stifled puritan village, it seems his main driving force was to make life fun and interesting for all and sundry.   And his determination and drive to get things done and suceed was quite incredible.

My only complaint about this book is the timeline gets a little confused in places, hopping back and forward and back again and forward again.   But, it’s still very much worth reading as it exposes a lot about today’s modern world of celebrity, pop culture, tabloid journalism, advertising and marketing.   Maybe people shouldn’t be so gullible, but when people’s lives are so dull and tragic they’ll flock to anything that anyone markets to them that they want to believe, whether it’s true or not.   And people’s lives are probably more dull and tragic now than they have ever been.

So i’m now really looking forward to reading The Mermaid and writing a review where i’ll be sure to let you know if learning all about Barnum was a good idea or not.

Irving’s Page

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The Little Mermaid — Hans Christian Anderson

I decided i’d read this just to get my mermaid thing going before reading The Mermaid by Christina Henry.

I have to say, i’m very disappointed.

Silly little girl falls in love with handsome prince who she can’t have because she’s just not good enough and he loves another, blah, blah, blah.   So she has to die, like dead forever, because mermaids don’t have immortal souls like human beings do because they’re obviously just animals and Anderson obviously believes that animals don’t have souls and probably agrees with Descartes that you can even nail them to doors and dissect them without anaesthetic because they’re just soulless things unworthy of our consideration.

But wait, Hans gives this disgusting, soulless animal a chance, she can have legs to go on land and woo the handsome prince but she has to lose her voice by having her tongue cut out and suffer the pain of walking on knives for her whole life to do so.   So desperate is this soulless creature that she agrees to this obscene torture.   If she gets the prince to own her through marriage thus becoming a responsible pet owner for this soulless animal then god will bestow a soul upon this creature and it can live happily ever after as the sex slave of the prince.   Otherwise she’s just going to be a bit of nothing floating on the wind for all eternity.

And then we’re told that if children are good then the little mermaid may still get a soul and go to heaven but if children are bad then she won’t.   So if you you’re ever a naughty child, even for a moment, then you’re obviously a fucking evil little shit who hates mermaids.   WTF!!!   But mermaids are soulless animals who don’t get to go to heaven so its a bit confused as to whether a child should be worried about being good when its not actually the child’s fault in the first place that mermaids are soulless animals who god obviously hates and doesn’t want in heaven anyway.

Children should not have a sense of right and wrong built upon fairy tales, imaginary beings and/or other such nonsense.   Because what do you think is going to happen when the child finds out that everything it believed you told it was true is a complete lie that you conjured up in order to hoodwink and con the child into behaving to your unreasonable demands?

I seriously would not read this to any child i had in my care.   It’s disgusting, backward, patriarchal, god-grovelling drivel.   Some books really should be burned and/or deleted.

Deleted!

Han’s Page

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The Adventures of Rustle and Eddy — Joseph R. Lallo

The 8th book in The Book of Deacon series.   Although it isn’t actually part of the main series.

A genuine stand alone book that can be enjoyed either with or without the main series, and vice versa.   It just so happens that this story happens in the same world as The Book of Deacon series.

So what’s it about?   Well, to begin, it’s mostly a children’s story, and if you have any children who like things like fairies and mermaids then i’m sure they’ll love you to read them this story.

Essentially, a fairy ends up getting snatched from the shore by a merman and dragged off under the sea for a rather big and exciting adventure.   What more can a child ask from a story?

And even if you’re not a child and just including this book because you’re reading The Book of Deacon as a whole series, like i am, this is a nice fun book to read.   After all the heaviness of The Battle of Verrel and the end of the war, it’s nice to have a book like this to take a breather from the main series before diving back in for the second half.   It really is a great, half time, refreshment read.

So, to sum up, a nice easy read, which i think would be great for children either for reading themselves or being read to.   The characters are enjoyable, well written, fun, and keep you on their side all the way through.

And now i dive straight back into the main series with The Redemption of Desmeres.

Joseph’s Page

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