Today’s review may be a little shorter than usual in some sections as I’m getting back into the swing of things after my unplanned hiatus (more on that in a later blog post). This week I am doing an ARC review for The Heart of the Sea by Chesney Infalt. Because this is a review of a digital ARC I will not be able to speak on any of the details of the physical print book and some aspects of the work may be subject to change before publication.
About the Author
About the Book
The Heart of the Sea will be released on September 1, 2021. You can pre-order it for Amazon Kindle here.
I have to say that the cover got me. When I first saw it on Twitter I knew I had to get my hands on this one. I’m very grateful for the ARC opportunity but I can tell you I would have been buying this one anyway (and will when it’s released) for the cover alone. I love the colors. It’s so pretty but not too busy. Love, love, love.
The interior has some neat shell images on each chapter beginning and some pretty drop caps. I really like the design and I think it’s a nice touch. My one complaint is that it looks absolutely awful in dark mode because the background on the images is white. This is a common issue in books with interior images, which makes me less of a fan of them for the eBook format.
4 teaspoons for design.
The Heart of the Sea is a gender-swapped retelling of The Little Mermaid. Princess Sabine of the land and Prince Caspian of the Sea build a love over the years of their childhood amidst growing tensions between their two different worlds. A scourge on the Kingdom Below forces them apart for 5 long years while a sea witch’s curse makes all hope crumble.
4 teaspoons for premise.
I think one of my favorite things about this retelling is that there is no insta-love. The connection between the main characters is built over time in a way that makes sense and is reinforced by the ending of the story. The closest retelling I’ve read in this regard is Macdonald’s A Song of Sea and Shore. I think I actually prefer Infalt’s version because we get to see Sabine and Caspian as adolescents growing into their first (and true) love together before the events of the story drive them (temporarily) apart.
I really like that both main characters had two loving parents. So often in fairytale retellings one or the other main character is orphaned or otherwise scarred by their family upbringing, so that was a nice change of pace. There were also some great sibling relationships on display.
One little pet peeve of mine that came up several times in the book. <Drags soap box out of the closet and steps up on it /> I wish there had been a little less emphasis on Sabine’s distaste for corsets. They were the supportive undergarments of by-gone eras that kept the girls from bouncing all over the place, not torture devices for royalty. Stop the corset hate! <steps off of soap box and drags it back into the closet />
4 teaspoons for characters.
The plot is a little bit of a tangled web due to the flip-flopping between past and present. However, I think the overall pacing and direction of it are well done. Like Disney’s Little Mermaid, there is a lot more plot than the original Hans Christian Andersen tale, and the stakes are definitely revved higher than just a teenage girl’s heartache.
4 teaspoons for plot.
Infalt has a readable and charming style that is easy to get engrossed in. Once I started reading it was hard to put down. The only thing I didn’t care for personally was the flip-flop back and forth between five years prior, present and past tense in the first person, and being in Caspian and Sabine’s heads. All three of those things together was almost a little too much for me.
4 teaspoons for writing.
I really enjoyed this retelling and can wholeheartedly recommend it for the fans of sweet endings and happily-ever-after.