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The Twice-Drowned Prince

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This beautifully executed, stunning story of self-discovery will leave readers spellbound long after the final word has been read.

Synopsis

"The prince had no memory of the first time he drowned. The salt numbed his mind. But the second time, it stung. Every breath brought a thousand barbs, slicing his flesh to ribbons without spilling a drop of blood. His lungs screamed as never before—voiceless.

What makes a man choose to drown? A great many things, the prince was sure. But for him, it was two eyes more vivid than the sky. Her eyes, her hair, her tail of vibrant blue."

After surviving a shipwreck, he seeks out his rescuer. A witch grants him a tail, but her spell comes with a curse. He must learn the sign language of the Mer and win the heart of his rescuer—or turn to sea foam. As secrets resurface, infatuation could lead to destruction, and resurging trauma could drown both prince and teacher.

"The Twice-Drowned Prince is a truly immersive story that plunges fearlessly into questions about the depths of human nature, the power of mercy, and the redeeming beauty of love. This fresh, innovative Little Mermaid retelling will pull you under the waves with its life-or-death stakes, evocative world-building, and a lyrical voice as enchanting as any siren song."-Catherine Jones Payne

Human technology and advancement have unwound the world, erasing what had been created and giving way for magic—and mermaids—to exist once more. After a shipwreck claims the life of a human prince’s younger sister, the prince cannot forget the face of the Mer who rescued him. Desperate to find his sapphire beauty, the prince makes a bargain with a land witch to become Mer himself—for a price. Not fully Mer, the prince struggles to strike a comfortable balance with the underwater world and what remains of his humanity. The prince is unable to communicate with the Mer at first, but he meets one who can read and write. She agrees to teach the prince the language of the Mer in exchange for him teaching her about the human world. The prince spends a year with the Mer, searching for answers to a memory the land witch has taken from him. Though their interactions are not always smooth, the Mer and the prince learn about themselves and each other in a world in which tomorrow is not guaranteed.


A beautifully executed, stunning story of self-discovery and acceptance, this book will leave readers spellbound long after the final word has been read. Careful, eloquent language is used to direct the narrative, reflecting the power the written word has had over each of the two protagonists. Though both relish the literature that has become rare in their world, they come to recognize the importance of experiential learning in tandem with their studies. The history of both characters unfolds expertly in pieces throughout the story, allowing the reader glimpses into their lives. Each new element draws the reader in deeper, connecting with the characters and their pain. Just as with any complex friendship, there are fears and secrets that reside beneath the surface, complicating their interactions at times. Told from multiple perspectives, dramatic tension builds as readers learn information the other characters may not yet know. Their flaws make the protagonists relatable, even in this supernatural environment. Fans of the story of The Little Mermaid will revel in the beauty of this related tale where the prince is transformed, instead. 

Reviewed by

My career has focused on children’s literature, primarily, but I have a love for YA books, too. I began reviewing books in 2015, since which time I have had over 500 published reviews!

I primarily write reviews, but will create video reviews like this upon request: https://youtu.be/9MQx-u_NFI8

Synopsis

"The prince had no memory of the first time he drowned. The salt numbed his mind. But the second time, it stung. Every breath brought a thousand barbs, slicing his flesh to ribbons without spilling a drop of blood. His lungs screamed as never before—voiceless.

What makes a man choose to drown? A great many things, the prince was sure. But for him, it was two eyes more vivid than the sky. Her eyes, her hair, her tail of vibrant blue."

After surviving a shipwreck, he seeks out his rescuer. A witch grants him a tail, but her spell comes with a curse. He must learn the sign language of the Mer and win the heart of his rescuer—or turn to sea foam. As secrets resurface, infatuation could lead to destruction, and resurging trauma could drown both prince and teacher.

"The Twice-Drowned Prince is a truly immersive story that plunges fearlessly into questions about the depths of human nature, the power of mercy, and the redeeming beauty of love. This fresh, innovative Little Mermaid retelling will pull you under the waves with its life-or-death stakes, evocative world-building, and a lyrical voice as enchanting as any siren song."-Catherine Jones Payne

Prince

The prince had no memory of the first time he drowned. The salt numbed his mind. But the second time, it stung. Every breath brought a thousand barbs, slicing his flesh to ribbons without spilling a drop of blood. His lungs screamed as never before—voiceless.

He remembered the after, of course, when he woke up ashore, salt in his mouth, sand on his skin, his savior before him.

What makes a man choose to drown? A great many things, the prince was sure. But for him, it was two eyes more vivid than the sky. Her eyes, her hair, her tail of vibrant blue. 

Light, almost icy blue, biting in her locks, her eyes, the scales of her tail, and even in the freckles sprinkled across her delicate face. Her skin was pearl—not metaphorically, but real, true pearl—and her ears pointed. White eyelashes framed her sky-blue irises like feathery clouds. Her left hand, hard and soft at once, clasped his chin, and she smiled at the prince. 

He forgot all about the tail, then.

Her lips parted as if to speak, but then a dark hand covered them. This skin was richer than the prince had ever known, and his eyes drew, reluctantly, toward the new, toward the other mermaid.

Her hair was a dripping mass of red coils. Not copper or orange or any mortal shade, but a red for apples to envy. She shook her wet head, features scolding, so underwhelming, so boring next to his sapphire angel. So the prince’s eyes shot back to the truer beauty. She was fairer, brighter, perfect in every way, and her eyes never left his. Her hand fell away, and his hand reached out without him willing it, at least not consciously. Then she slipped away, those blue eyes gripping his until her head finally turned to dive, to swim beneath the waves.

The prince stood though he had no bearing, knowing he would fall on to the beach. He had to follow her, to thank her, to ask—

His knees buckled, naturally, and he heard a voice call his name from the shore. He didn't turn. All his focus was on the crashing waves.

Madness? A dream? Salty mirages? But why two? Why one so angry and plain? Why take her away?

***

Earth witches are not easy to find, even for last born princes. If the old tales are true, they tended to stumble upon magic whenever they sought our fortunes, but magic only returned to this world a generation ago. And the prince sought a different form of destiny. 

The witch he found, or who found him, inhabited a cave where the cliffs met the sea.

Light did not touch that place, but the smell would ever linger in the prince’s memory, clearer than any scent he had ever known. The dampness. The unnamable, salty must. Not just mud or mildew—something like raw earth but richer and simpler. The definition of the solid world. The witch herself.

He tried not to stare, but he couldn’t resist. Nothing had prepared him for a face half-transformed into gemstone, shoulders made of malachite, even once human hair replaced by crystals that stretched up instead of cascading down. Her left arm, mostly clay, remained at her side, and she stretched out the right, still flesh and bone.

“What brings you here, my prince?”

There was no slick temptation in her voice, no cool allure, but there was a bluntness to force a response from a stone.

“What is your request?”



About the author

L.M. Morrison was born in Toledo, Ohio, but by age 18, she'd lived in 20 houses, 7 towns, and 2 countries. After receiving her Bachelor's, she taught English in Comoros and France. She speaks French and Shikomori semi-fluently, but her fellow Floridians prefer when she speaks in English. view profile

Published on December 04, 2020

50000 words

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

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