The Mermaid of Black Conch

By Monique Roffey,

Book cover of The Mermaid of Black Conch

Book description

Escape to the ocean with the entrancing, unforgettable winner of the Costa Book of the Year - as read on BBC Radio 4.

'Mesmerising' MAGGIE O'FARRELL

Near the island of Black Conch, a fisherman sings to himself while waiting…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Mermaid of Black Conch as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

"I am a story," Aycayia tells her young friend Reggie. She is a mermaid who loses her tail; a sea creature who is dragged to land after thousands of years in the ocean, and who falls in love with a fisherman. But she’s trapped in her own story, and the curse that swept her away from her own ancient people has to be unravelled and broken. Aycacia yearns for the sea, and yearns equally for the love of David, her fisherman. He saves her from near-suicide, but the curse of her story remains.

This story was recommended to me because…

An exotic location, a bit of magical realism (another favourite genre of mine), and a bittersweet love story of a very different kind. When the fisherman David rescues and falls in love with the centuries-old mermaid, Aycayia, she begins to return to her original, human form. But it seems their love is not enough to guarantee a regular style of happy ever after. I loved the exquisite writing, the heart-stopping moments of potential horror, and the lightening of what could have been a dark story by the injection of some farcical ‘baddies’. 

A fisherman visits a mermaid, who is not what fairy stories might have you expect. She is powerful, alien, beautiful and strange, and soon captured by a drunken group of loutish sailors, strung up as an oddity/ David knows she is more than simply a creature, that she is a being, a precious person deserving of respect, worth more than those who would treat her as a trophy. After he rescues her, the transformation begins, which is at once devastating, beautiful, and full of human truth. I couldn’t put this book down, and though I don’t often cry whilst reading,…

From Melanie's list on folklore of the sea.

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