Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale

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9780307589972: Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale

Two sheltered princesses, one wounded warrior; who will live happily ever after?
 
Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father's greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom.
 
Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart....  

A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page.

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About the Author:

CAROLYN TURGEON is the author of Rain Village and Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER ONE
The Princess
 
It was a gloomy, overcast day, like all days were, when the princess first saw them. The two of them, who would change her life. There was nothing to herald their appearance, no collection of birds or arrangement of tea leaves to mark their arrival. If anything, the convent was more quiet than usual. The nuns had just finished the midmorning service and scattered to their cells for private prayer. The abbess was shut in her chamber.
 
Only the princess was out in the garden, wandering along the stone wall that overlooked the sea. Here, near the old well, the wall dipped down to her knees, and an ancient gate led to a stairway that curved to the rocky beach below. She was bundled in furs, wincing against the blast of wind that swept up from the sea and made the bare trees rattle around her.
 
She was not supposed to be out here. She should have been in her cell, too, but she did not follow the rules the way the others did, and the abbess had instructed them to give her wide berth. No one knew why, only that she ’d arrived one night on horseback accompanied by three armed guards, who carried in a large chest, placed it in a private double cell in the novices’ wing, and disappeared as quietly as they’d come.
 
No one but the abbess herself knew that she was the Northern king’s daughter, that she was in hiding after secret reports that the South would be renewing its attacks. The others knew her simply by the name Mira, which was short for her given name, Margrethe. Most assumed she suffered some kind of ailment or melancholy, and the less committed novices had spent hours over the last months trying to guess which one. A few days after Margrethe’s arrival, another new tenant had appeared: a bright, flame- haired girl named Edele, who became fast friends with Margrethe, almost as if they’d known each other for years.
 
Margrethe had never wanted to come to this desolate outpost, was not used to the barren loneliness of this part of the world. She missed the castle, the long dinners lit by fire and dancing, the sleigh rides, her childhood room with its little fireplace in which pinecones burned, the mantel lined with books. She especially missed those—her books, and the long hours she had spent with her father’s adviser and old tutor, Gregor, poring over them, learning of ancient battles and loves and philosophies. But the kingdom was under threat, and this was the safest place for her, her father had said, here at the edge of the world, in the convent that her late grandmother had helped found and that her mother had been schooled in as a girl.
 
She thought of her mother now, as she stared out at this desolate sea. It had been two years since the queen’s death, but sometimes it felt as fresh as a new wound. Margrethe pulled her furs close and stood stark against the wind, breathing in the thick air, which coated her tongue in salt. She wondered how her mother had felt staring out at this same sea. Was it like this back then? The ocean dark, wild? It seemed, to Margrethe, the color of grief.
 
Before coming here she had never seen the sea like this, as a living thing. Some trees had been uprooted by a recent storm, and they reached toward the water like gnarled fingers. She strained against the wind, hoping to catch sight of a Viking ship, a square flag, a dragon prow, but she was at the end of the world now, at the most northern point in the kingdom, and no ships came here.
 
How was she to know that this would be the most singular moment of her life? How can any of us tell when that thing comes that will make everything different? It seemed, to Margrethe, a moment like any other: waiting to return to her father’s castle, looking over the gloomy sea, waiting for private prayer to be over and the convent workday to start. Strangely, she found herself looking forward to the hours she ’d spend weaving that afternoon, listening to the clacking of the looms, the hum of the spinning wheels nearby, the voice of one of the sisters reading scripture moving over them. At first she ’d hated the dull hours of work, but lately she’d found a certain comfort in them. She could forget everything, watching the wool transform in front of her.
 
The sky gleamed and shifted. The sun was a dull ache behind a veil of gray and silver. 
 
And then, there. On the water! She breathed in quickly, afraid it was a trick of the sea. A fish’s tail shooting out. Bright, shimmering silver.
 
Margrethe squinted against the cold wind, trying to keep her eyes steady and focused. They say you can see things here, at the end of the world. Faces in the clouds and waves and leaves. Branches becoming arms and then branches again.
 
But there it was again, a flash of white. Margrethe blinked repeatedly, and the sea air seemed to cut through her. She wiped tears from her eyes and cheeks and leaned into the wind. The sea seemed to shift from foam to water, from dark to light, swirling. In the distance, rocks jutted. It would be easy to mistake one for the monstrous fin of a great fish, the prow
of a ship sinking down.
 
And then: a curving, gleaming tail flaring out of the water. A moment later, another flash and a pale face emerging, disappearing as quickly as it had appeared. A woman’s face. The tail of a fish stretching out behind her. Silvery, as if it were made of gems. Margrethe shook her head. The cold was making her see things.
 
She turned to look at the convent behind her, the cross and church spires stretching black against the sky. The other women were inside, next to fires and wrapped in blankets and furs. Only she was crazy enough to stand here staring into this impossible sea.
 
She laughed at herself, turned back to the sea. But the woman was still there, closer now, gliding through the water as if she had wings. Her hair the color of the moon and scattered through with pearls. Her skin shimmering out of the water, catching the light and turning to diamonds. And that tail propelling her forward, unmistakably. It was not human, this creature.
 
Mermaid. The name came to Margrethe automatically, from the stories that had rooted themselves in her mind, the ancient tales she had read by firelight as the rest of the castle slept. She no longer felt the wind or the cold as she stood transfixed, watching the mermaid move through the water. Margrethe had not known such things could really exist, but the moment she saw the mermaid, it was as if the world had always contained this kind of
wonder. This is how it works, she thought. When the world becomes something new, it seems always to have been that way.
 
She’d never seen anything so beautiful in all her years at court, not in all the grand banquets and dances, the festivals that lasted weeks at a time, the creations of musicians and storytellers, the rich spices and fabrics and jewels shipped in from all over the world. Not in all her years surrounded by handmaidens who bathed her and brushed her hair and laced her corsets and pressed powder into her skin. Nothing could compare to this creature gliding through the water, propelled by the tail of a fish.
 
As the mermaid approached the shore, Margrethe saw that she was carrying something. A man. Holding him in her arms and keeping his head above water. The mermaid slowed as she arrived at the shore, and reached out to the rocky beach. In a graceful rolling movement, the man cradled in one arm, she moved from sea to land. The sharp rocks would have ripped a human’s skin, but the mermaid seemed unharmed as she released the man and gently, tenderly, laid him out on the shore next to her, her light hair hanging in long, wet ropes. Now Margrethe could see clearly: the man’s muscled warrior’s body, covered with wounds. Human.
 
The mermaid stretched out next to him—her pale, naked torso shifting to glittering scales as waist flared to hip, the curve of her tail like a perfectly fitted, exquisitely colored dress. A most wonderful silver, tinged with green. The mermaid sat up and pulled her tail to her side. She still didn’t appear to be affected by the cold, despite the wind whipping all around her. Her skin seemed hard, like stone. As Margrethe realized this was the mermaid’s actual body, a feeling of revulsion mixed with her wonder and awe. What would it be like to be half a fish? she thought. How cold and hard was she to touch?
 
The man was sputtering and coughing. The mermaid leaned over him, her breasts grazing his chest as she did. She kissed his forehead, stroked his wet hair. Even from a distance Margrethe could see the look of pure, radiant love that lit the mermaid’s face as she gazed down on him.
 
This is what rapture is, Margrethe thought. That thing she saw come over the nuns’ faces as they knelt in prayer. She ’d tried turning to heaven, the way the women surrounding her did, but her heart, she knew, was too tied to the earth.
 
Behind her the bells rang, announcing the late morning devotions. Suddenly the mermaid looked up and saw Margrethe. Margrethe gasped, caught. She could see the blue of the mermaid’s eyes, as if the whole scene had become magnified, feel it inside her despite the distance between them. It was as if, for one moment, the mermaid was right there in the convent garden. Save him, the trees, the wind seemed to whisper. A voice inside
her. You, come now.
 
Margrethe stopped breathing, could barely feel her own body. And then, with one last look at the man, a last kiss on the lips, the creature pushed off from the rocks and dove back into the sea. Margrethe cried out and, without thinking, ran through the convent gate and down the stone steps—hundreds of them—that led to the beach. She hugged the furs to her body, almost slipping, reaching to the thin iron banister to steady herself, the air rushing and whirring around her, the stairs streaming under her endlessly.
 
She arrived at the beach, stumbled over rocks, but there was no trace of the mermaid. Only him, the man the creature had pulled to shore. And there, by his hand, one gleaming oyster shell. Margrethe stood at the shoreline, then waded into the sea, not caring as water soaked through her boots. She stared out, but there was only endless ocean, cut up by rocks and ice and the worried, suffocating sky. Suddenly the world seemed entirely bleak and without hope.
 
“Come back,” Margrethe whispered. “Please.” But the sea was quiet now. The rocks pushed up from the water, motionless, like uncaring gods. The waves moved back and forth along the shoreline, slapping it, lunging to the earth, and then disappearing again.
 
CHAPTER TWO
The Mermaid
 
The palace’s great hall was unusually quiet that afternoon. The ocean floor, dense with sea plants and anemones and coral plates, was still, and the amber walls swayed only slightly, sprouting flowers that brushed the mermaid’s skin as she swam past. The high- pointed amber windows had been flung open, and schools of glowing silver fish with pointed teeth poured through, illuminating the dark water. Above, thousands of mussel shells opened and closed with the currents. If she squinted, looked as hard as she could, she imagined she could make out the dim glare of the sun above.
 
Her name was Lenia. She was the youngest daughter of the sea queen, and lived with her mother, father, grandmother, and five sisters in a large coral palace on the ocean floor. She made her way to the end of the great hall, where a piece of heavy, clouded glass hung over the grand fireplace. Both glass and fireplace had been recovered from sunken ships full of human bones and ephemera and treasures. Lenia found it strange to see her own image, and she usually avoided the glass and its tricks. But today she felt so different and changed, she had to see if it would be obvious to anyone else.
 
Her sisters had badgered her all morning, their singing drifting through the water and every room of the palace, trying to lure her out to the garden, where they had all been waiting to hear her story. She had the most beautiful voice, everyone had always said, and it was she who’d been most excited, of all the sisters, to swim to the upper world. She was the one who had the human statue in her garden, a garden as round and red as the sun. She was the one who’d asked their grandmother countless times to tell her about men and women, about souls.
 
But Lenia had waited in her room until she was quite sure her sisters had left for the day, until the only resident left in the palace was their old grandmother, who knew better than anyone that Lenia would talk when she was ready, and only then. Lenia came upon the clouded glass. It took her a minute to focus on her blue eyes, her white skin, the glittering moon hair that flew out on all sides of her in the water, her small, pink- tipped breasts, her long silver- gray tail, the oyster shells lining it, symbols of her high rank. Behind her, an octopus swayed this way and that, and a group of sea horses floated past.
 
She leaned in until she was inches from her own reflection. She pressed her palms into her waist, her smooth, cold skin. She had thought she might look more . . . human, she realized. But she was the same as she ’d always been. She didn’t even look older. Her face stared out at her from the glass, as if it were mocking her. There was nothing human about her. Her skin was opalescent, changing color ever so slightly as she shifted in the water. Her lips were stained pink with the sea flowers that had been ground for her. Water moved in and out of the tiny gills on her neck. And right below the curve of her belly, her skin took on a high sheen and then turned, slowly, to scale. Long, thin silver fish scales layered down her tail.
 
She had wanted to go to the upper world for as long as she could remember. One by one her sisters had been allowed to travel to the surface of the water on their eighteenth birthdays, for the entire day, while she, the youngest, had to wait in the palace for their return. After each sister’s visit, they’d all gather in the gardens and hear tales of the curiosities and wonders that lay above. The fish would slip past their shoulders and faces as the lucky sister wove her tale, and Lenia would listen breathlessly as her sisters spoke of the glimmering cities and clattering carriages they’d watched from the shore, the star- sprinkled night skies, the flying swans like long white veils over the sea, the mortal children with legs rather than tails, and the icebergs that glistened like pearls.
 
Her sisters had been impressed by these things, but happy enough to return to the sea when their birthdays were over. But to Lenia, the whole upper world seemed so vast, so strange, so full, that she ’d been determined to venture farther than any of her sisters on her own eighteenth birthday, memorizing every moment of it. Once, mermaids had been able to visit the upper world whenever they wanted. They’d appeared to sailors, bewitched travelers, stolen beautiful young men from seasides, brought them down to the world below. But things had changed in the last few hundred years, as humans took more and more to the sea. After a group of mermaid sisters had been hauled up by fishermen and brutally killed, Lenia’s great- grandmother had issued a royal decree forbidding any further interaction between the two worlds. <...

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Descrizione libro Random House USA Inc, United States, 2011. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Original. Language: English . Brand New Book. Two sheltered princesses, one wounded warrior; who will live happily ever after? Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father s greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom. Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart . A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780307589972

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Descrizione libro Random House USA Inc, United States, 2011. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Original. Language: English . Brand New Book. Two sheltered princesses, one wounded warrior; who will live happily ever after? Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father s greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom. Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart . A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780307589972

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Descrizione libro Random House USA Inc, United States, 2011. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Original. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Two sheltered princesses, one wounded warrior; who will live happily ever after? Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father s greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom. Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart . A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780307589972

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