It’s surprising not only how many fantasy and mythology books are in circulation today, but also how many subgenres there are that fall into this category.
Lovers of myths and legends are truly being spoiled, as novelists are featuring some of their favorite tropes, including fairies, werewolves, and mermaids.
Mermaids are really having a moment right now, and there are tons of books out there that feature these alluring creatures.
Some of them boast the fairytale mermaid princess from our childhoods, whilst others paint an altogether darker, and more sinister rendition.
Whichever kind of mermaid tale you’re interested in, we can guarantee that there’s a book out there for you. Lighthearted and fun, dark and brooding, and everything in between, we’ve got it right here on our list.
To find some of the very best mermaid books on the market, simply keep reading below, as we take a closer look.
Now, we couldn’t start off our list without mentioning the classic that started it all. We’re talking about the classic tale of the Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen.
For lovers of mermaid mythology, we’d recommend starting your journey here, as Anderson introduces us to some key themes and tropes which have shaped the genre.
Those who have only witnessed the Disney movie of the same name might be surprised to find that the tale it’s based on is incredibly dark, like many other Hans Christian Anderson stories.
It tells the story of the Sea Princess, who on her birthday, is allowed to rise up to the surface to witness the human world for the first time.
As she does so, she sees a beautiful human male whom she falls in love with. After a bargain with the sea witch, she’s given the opportunity to make him hers, but he’s about to marry somebody else.
After much confusion, the sea Princess is faced with the prospect of stabbing the human male, in order to return to her life beneath the ocean, but in a selfless act, she stabs herself instead. Hey, we said it was dark!
- Foundational – If you’re a true lover of the mermaid book genre, then you’re going to have to read this, as it’s considered to be a foundational text.
- Mermaid Mythology – This is the original book when it comes to discussing mermaid mythology, and you’ll find many similar tropes adopted in countless books afterward.
- Dimension – If you’re a lover of the Little Mermaid movie by Disney, this book helps to give the tale some added dimension.
- Dark – For those who don’t like books with themes that are too heavy, it might be best to steer clear of this one, as it can be very dark.
- Archaisms – Having been written such a long time ago, some people might struggle with the archaisms in this novel.
This book is something of an Anderson retelling, as it features a young mermaid maiden called Amelia, who rises to the surface one day and falls in love with a human male that she sees.
This young fisherman, whom she sees regularly, doesn’t row out one day.
Worried, she frantically searches for him, only to find him seemingly lost forever. She’s utterly heartbroken, and in the midst of her grief, signs a contract with a young entrepreneur.
This entrepreneur is the owner of a great circus, which features all kinds of weird and wacky facts.
He asks her if she would like to play the mermaid in his traveling circus, to which she agrees.
But, as things grow more and more sinister, Amelia realizes that she’s entered into a bargain that she won’t soon escape. How will America survive this terrible ordeal?
- Portrayal Of Heartbreak – Henry gives a very real and raw portrayal of heartbreak that many readers will find relatable.
- Retelling – As we mentioned before, this novel has aspects that feature Hans Christian Anderson’s retellings.
- Poignant – This is a very poignant tale, and is sure to tug on your heartstrings.
- Land-Based – Some people might not enjoy the fact that this novel is essentially a land-based mermaid tale, and doesn’t actually feature the ocean heavily.
- Sad – There are lots of sad moments throughout the novel, which some readers might find to be upsetting.
This one features everything that we love about sea-based novels, including lots and lots of pirates.
This novel is actually a historical romance and features a young woman called Bennet Sharp, who unlike the other proper ladies of society, who promenade around the park and prepare for balls, is actually wanted for piracy.
She is being hunted by a stormy libertine called Farrell, who will stop at nothing to catch her and bring her to the hands of justice.
But, Bennet has no desire of being caught and will travel the seven seas in her attempt to escape.
But, when Farrel eventually catches up with her, can he prevent himself from falling for her beguiling charms?
This tempestuous romance by Godwin features some of our very favorite themes, including mermaid mythology, unbreakable curses, and dangerous romances. You’re in for a real thrill with this one.
- High Stakes – We really loved all the drama in this book, and the high-stakes situation really left you at the edge of your seat.
- Beguiling Romance – The enemies-to-lovers romance in this book was absolutely to die for.
- Epic – We would say that the adventure element in this novel was of truly epic proportions.
- Mermaids Featured At Backdrop – Although there is plenty of mermaid mythology in this book for readers to get their teeth sunk into, it might be a problem for some that they don’t feature at the forefront of the novel.
- Sensual – This book can get a little bit steamy at parts, so if this isn’t really your thing, then maybe stay away from this one.
If you haven’t heard of the Disney Twisted Tales retellings, then first of all, have you been living under a rock? And secondly, they’re honestly the best thing to hit the teen readers market in years.
We absolutely love the dark retellings of some of our favorite childhood stories, each of which poses a question on the cover that changes the entire narrative.
For example, the Cinderella retelling asks, ‘what if Cinderella never made it to the ball’.
This one, which is a Little Mermaid retelling, features a world in which Ariel was unable to defeat the sea witch. As a result, she’s married Prince Eric, leaving her helpless and without her voice.
Now, Ursula rules both land and sea, and she attempts to wipe away Ariel’s entire kingdom.
But, Ariel suspects that her father, the great king trident, might still be alive, and she ventures off to find him, to try to finally foil the evil sea witch once and for all.
This one puts the struggle for power, love, and the quest for one’s voice at the forefront.
- Intriguing – For those who love the Disney version of the Little Mermaid story, you’re sure to appreciate this intriguing retelling, which cleverly presents an alternative version that will have readers hooked.
- Easy Read – If you’re looking for a super easy read to enjoy on a lazy afternoon, then we’d recommend picking up this one.
- Character Representation – We think that the character representation in this novel was really good, and captured the personality of the ones we know and love from the screen.
- Juvenile – Bear in mind that although this book is extremely well written, it is intended for a younger audience. So, if you’re looking for something a bit darker and more serious, then we’d recommend you look elsewhere.
- Not Great For Purists – If you’re a Disney purist, and hate anyone messing with the original material, then you might not be a fan of this book.
If you’re looking for a mermaid romance book that’s LGBTQ + friendly, then we’d recommend that you check out this heartwarming take, by Jason June.
It features a world in which all people from the mermaid kingdom must venture out once they’ve reached adulthood to the human realm.
Once they come of age, they have to spend one moon cycle living amongst human beings, who they’re forced to help with various tasks and learn about their culture.
Many merpeople dread this journey, however, and have no desire to mix with humans, who are essentially responsible for all of the waste and anguish inflicted upon the mermaid kingdom.
Crest is one of these people. But, something unexpected happens when he ventures out of the kingdom, as he stumbles upon a young man called Sean, whom he is instantly drawn to.
Season has just broken up with a longtime partner, and Crest offers to help him make his ex jealous by feigning a relationship.
But, of course, things are never as simple as they seem, and Crest and Sean begin to develop strong feelings for each other. But there’s more than just their inner conflict at stake.
If they want their relationship to survive, their love will have to defy the conventions of two different worlds.
- LGBTQ + – We love seeing a mermaid romance novel that features two LGBTQ + characters at the forefront.
- Romantic – June’s portrayal of the romance between these two characters is incredibly romantic, and readers are sure to fall in love.
- Gripping – This is really a gripping read, and you’ll be dying to find out how Jason and Crest will defy the painstaking odds.
- Angsty – If you’re not a fan of angst, this is a common theme in this novel, and might not be for you.
- Flow – Some readers complained that the flow of the novel left something to be desired.
If you’re looking for a mermaid book that presents something altogether different from anything else you’ve read, then we’d recommend The Deep, by Rivers Solomon.
This heartbreaking tale tells the story of pregnant women during the slave trade in Africa.
Essentially, if women were found to be pregnant on slave ships transporting them, they would be thrown overboard, as they were deemed to be a liability. But, this story turns this evil deed into something beautiful.
After the women were thrown overboard, they didn’t die, but instead, survived with their unborn babies, and formed a kingdom filled with merpeople.
As the years roll on, they forget the reason why they’re underneath the sea and even forget the human realms they came from.
There is one woman, however, who feels as though she’s cursed, because she remembers everything, and her resulting knowledge causes her to experience terrible trauma.
Because she’s unable to bear the terrible knowledge of why they all live underneath the deep, she must escape her awful situation.
But, as she escapes, she finds herself back on the surface, a surface that her people haven’t seen for many decades. What will she make of this brand-new world? And, can she reconcile its brutal past?
- Innovative – We think that this is one of the most innovative based mermaid tales we’ve ever read. Solomon presents us with something entirely new.
- Heartbreaking – This is truly a heartbreaking tale that unearths generational trauma.
- Feminist – We love this female-driven narrative that puts black women right at the forefront.
- Dark – Some readers might find this one to be a difficult read as it’s very dark.
- Pacing – Sometimes the pacing of this novel can be a little slow, and lacks excitement in some parts.
If you’re somebody who adores fun-filled magical novels that will transport you to another world, then you simply have to read In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan.
As our protagonist, we have the highly witty and sassy Elliot. He’s incredibly obnoxious, but we love him anyway, as do the characters in the novel, who are completely captivated by his charms.
Elliot is given a special privilege that many people who live in their mermaid kingdom are never granted, that is to attend a school term in the Borderlands.
Attending school in the borderlands allows Elliot to come into close contact with a whole host of different people and beings, including both humans and elves. Initially, he’s extremely excited by this prospect.
As time grows, however, he realizes that maybe it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to me.
Borderland school is far more intensive than the mermaid variety and has Elliot overcoming all manner of difficulties, including a lot of fitness training (and we mean a lot), and weaponry training.
Some things are okay about the school, however, and these include a super hot elven warrior that will have readers falling in love. Elliot’s gotten much more than he bargained for with this chaotic school.
- LGBTQ + – This book is LGBTQ + friendly, which is always a plus in our books.
- Lighthearted – This book isn’t too heavy, and is a real joy to read.
- Great Main Protagonist – We love the sassy, self-assured Elliot, and we also love seeing him humbled a little bit throughout the course of the novel.
- Repetitive – Some people might not be a big fan of the magical school aspect of the novel, as it’s a trope that’s been done many times before.
- Setting – Some people might not love the fact that this book isn’t actually based in the ocean, but rather, on land where the Borderland school lies.
Calling all horror fans! We’ve got the perfect book for you. If you’re a lover of all things eerie, then this book is a real treat to read.
It basically takes place when a crew on a ship drowns, whilst they’re filming a mockumentary about mermaids. The voyage goes terribly wrong, and they’re never seen again.
This novel takes place four years after this particular event, and a young woman called Tory decides that she’s going to get to the bottom of what actually happened on that ship.
Her sister was one of the passengers who were killed, and so she has a personal motivation for unearthing the mysteries.
As you might have guessed, there are merpeople lurking beneath the depths, and they’re not the kind you get in childhood fairy tales.
- Spine-Tingling – If you’re looking for a truly chilling and spine-tingling tale, then this is the book for you.
- Atmospheric – This book written by Grant is highly atmospheric, and she does a great job of creating an eerie backdrop for the tale.
- Innovative – This book is very innovative and compelling, and offers something new and exciting within the genre.
- True Horror – This is a true horror novel, albeit with fantasy elements. This might prove to be a bit too scary for some readers and those who aren’t horror fans.
- Better Read In Conjunction With Prequel – Although this works very well as a standalone novel, we would recommend that readers take a look at the short story called ‘Rolling In The Deep’, which precedes the events that take place here. It helps to give a little added context and dimension to the tale.
We can bet you anything that you’ve never read a novel like this one before.
Thirsty Mermaids by Kat Leyh follows a group of three young mermaids, called Tooth, Pearl, and Eez, as they’ve been engaging in a long drinking session underneath the depths.
They’ve gotten their stash from a shipwreck that was carrying heaps and heaps of liquor, and they’re having a great time.
The thing is, however, that they’ve run out of drinks, but they don’t want the fun to end there. So, they decide to cast a magical spell that will solve all of their problems.
This spell allows them to transform into humans and subsequently allows them to head over to a bar on land.
There, they continue with their joviality until the morning beckons. But, there’s one teeny tiny issue. They can’t figure out how to transform themselves back into human beings.
So, this means that they’re going to have to adjust to life in the human world, which despite appearances, really isn’t all that easy.
Follow this super fun and entertaining graphic novel that is sure to have you laughing out loud.
- Laugh Out Loud – This book is primarily a comedy, and truly has us laughing out loud at the antics of the three main characters.
- Great Illustrations – We really love the cute illustrations that accompany this book.
- Well Written – Leyh is great at writing about the character’s predicament, and really gets you involved in the story.
- Formatting – Because it’s a graphic novel, the formatting might not be suited to all readers who enjoy reading regular books.
- Lighthearted – Although this isn’t necessarily a con, some people might not enjoy the fact that this book is supposed to be lighthearted and silly.
If you want a mermaid transformation tale, then we think that we’ve got the perfect one for you. Tristan is just a regular guy like any other and just wants to live a simple life away from any stressors.
But, he somehow finds himself sucked into unfortunate situations as a regular occurrence.
For example, just recently he was minding his own business, until a massive storm appeared, which threatened to drown some innocent swimmers as a result.
A natural man of action, Tristan decides that he can’t just leave them there to die, and ventures out into the stormy seas alone to try and help them.
Now, he finds himself awake in the hospital, and three days have passed. For some reason, he appears to have large patches of rash all over his body.
This rash isn’t just any kind of regular rash either, as it seems to be magical in origin.
It seems to be developing scales, which surely can’t be correct.
Well, it turns out that Tristan himself is actually half merman, as his father fell in love with a mermaid many years ago, and he has half of the species’ genetic makeup in his blood.
As if this wasn’t complicated enough as it is, it turns out that he isn’t just a regular merman.
Tristan is actually the heir to a vast underwater kingdom, but many of those living in the kingdom don’t want him to come to power and will do everything to stop this from happening.
- Multi-Dimensional – We love the fact that Tristan’s character is flawed and multi-dimensional. Enough so to make him very relatable for readers.
- Supporting Characters – This novel also boasts a cast of great supporting characters that audiences will really like.
- Compelling – We found this novel incredibly compelling, and each time you think Tristan’s character has it all figured out, there’s another obstacle to combat.
- Repetitive Trope – Some readers might be put off by the transformation theme of this novel as it’s been done so many times before.
- Inconsequential Drama – Some people might not be a fan of all the drama in the novel, which is usually to do more with personal conflicts than magic based.
If you want to read a truly epic take that takes place underneath the sea, then we’d recommend that you proceed with this one by Alexandra Christo.
It’s about a Sea Princess who commits the ultimate crime, and that is to kill another merperson.
The Sea Queen wreaks vengeance on her daughter and banishes her to the human realm, where she herself is given legs and must live amongst them.
Unless she’s able to give the Sea Queen the heart of the man she loves by the time the Winter Solstice draws in, she will be forced to live amongst the humans forever.
There is one complication, however, when he meets the Sea Princess in her human form, he can’t help but fall in love with her.
She promises that if he joins forces with her, she’ll help him destroy the sea kingdom below forever, but is she telling him the truth, or does she have her own motivations?
- Epic Novel – This is a truly epic novel, and is incredibly captivating to read.
- Transportative – Christo does a great job of transporting you to this sea world, where you feel so immersed that you’ll lose hours with your nose stuck in the book.
- Beautiful Writing – The writing in the novel is truly beautiful, and can be described as being poetic in parts.
- Too Many Asides – There are lots of ‘asides’ in the novel, and these can sometimes frustratingly draw away from the excitement of the plot.
- Parts May Seem Predictable – You might be able to see where the author is going with parts of this book, and that might be a little disappointing for some readers.
Choose According To Genre
Although mermaid fiction is a genre in and of itself, there are also lots of different subgenres within that specific category.
For example, mermaid horror would be a subgenre, as would mermaid graphic novels.
Shop around according to your own particular styles and tastes in order to find something within the mermaid category that appeals to you.
Check Out Some LGBTQ + Mermaid Books
The mermaid book genre is getting a lot of attention from the LGBTQ + community, and as a result, there are lots of great books being published by queer authors.
These make great parallels between our own societal problems and frustrations, filtered through a fantasy lens.
Find Mermaid Books That Fit Your Aesthetic
Choosing books that fit in without aesthetics can be super fun, and some of the books featured on our list above have some really spectacular book covers. Find some books that appeal to you visually too.
To sum up, there are so many different mermaid-based novels out there to captivate your attention.
We recommend that before you read these, you go ahead and read the original story by Hans Christian Anderson as an introduction to the lore.
If you want a spooky, mermaid-based book, then we’d recommend that you read ‘Into the Drowning Deep’.
If you’re looking for something that’s super fun and lighthearted, why not check out ‘Thirsty Mermaids’? If you want something heart-wrenching and poignant, then we’d recommend ‘Into The Deep’.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Was The First Person To See A Mermaid?
Christopher Columbus alleged that he saw a mermaid in 1493. He said that he spotted a group of sirens calling him to Hispaniola.
What Age Group Is The Little Mermaid By Hans Christian Anderson Written For?
It is suggested that Anderson’s tales are not suitable for those under the age of 12, as they can deal with some frightening themes.
- 20 Must-Read Genre-Blending Literary Fiction Books - May 26, 2023
- 32 Gripping Epic Fantasy Books To Transport You To Another World - May 26, 2023
- 12 Books Like Red, White, And Royal Blue You Will Love - May 17, 2023