Short Story Review: The Mermaid Girl
By: Erika Swyler
Published By: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Page Count: 33
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Adult - Fiction
I was craving a little summer reading before I dove into my next ARC and I stumbled upon this title while reading an article about mermaid stories. Mermaids have long captured my imagination, so purchasing this little gem was a no brainer. I'm also super excited to read The Book of Speculation after devouring this short story. Erika Swyler's use of language and imagery is gorgeous.
I was expecting this to be about a mythical sort of mermaid, but instead it focuses on Paulina, a wife and mother who used to be the mermaid at a traveling carnival. Once she meets her Daniel, she trades in her green sequined tail for a wedding ring. The pair settle down in a house by the sea and have two children. Paulina suffers from horrible headaches that interfere with her daily life. She seems lonely and longs for the life she once had.
This short story focuses on who Paulina is and how she ended up in her current state. This is a prequel to The Book of Speculation. The novel focuses on Simon, the son of Paulina and Daniel.
If you're interested in a small summery morsel of a read that is character driven and beautifully written, I highly recommend picking this up. The emotions in this one are tangible and captivating.
One Last Gripe: I loved this story, but it wasn't long enough for me to become truly invested in the characters.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The beautiful writing
First Sentence: When evening crawled in, Paulina was lying in bed, watching a migraine's oily blind spot drop across her field of vision, remembering the years of hand-stitching sequins.
Favorite Character: Paulina
Least Favorite Character: I didn't have one.
From Erika Swyler, author of The Book of Speculation—one of BuzzFeed’s Best Fiction Books of 2015-- a short story of a mermaid who ran away from the circus, and what happened when she started a life on land.
Before she was a suburban wife and mother, Paulina Watson was the Mermaid Girl of Carnival Lareille. She traveled everywhere with two boxes: the first with red sequins for the dress she wore as a magician’s assistant, the second with green sequins for her mermaid tail. She'd grown up on wild stories told by wild circus people. Books, she hadn’t had books until she’d found Daniel Watson and stopped moving.
The first time Daniel saw her, Paulina was floating in a glass tank, suspended in water that sparkled like it was made from night sky. She has settled down now, living in a house on a cliff on Long Island Sound with Daniel and their young family: six-year-old Simon and his baby sister, Enola. But if you steal the magician’s assistant from a carnival, how can you know if she’ll disappear?