Don’t chase fate, Mina. Let fate chase you.
Thank you NetGalley!
It’s no secret that I love NetGalley! It gives me access to some truly lovely books like The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea and I love knowing that a book is awesome and I read it before everyone on bookstagram could.
(I’m also the person who turns green with jealousy when someone gets an ARC that I really wanted – I’m working on that bit).
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is a novel by Axie Oh. It comes out on the 22nd of Feb, and has a beautiful cover! I received my e-arc via NetGalley, but that hasn’t impacted my feelings towards the book.
After all, a true fate cannot be broken with the edge of a blade.
I didn’t really think much about the book, when I was first approved for it. Honestly, it was when I followed the author on twitter and she seemed kinda cool that I was like, ok, let’s start this. How bad can it be?
The book made me tear up.
The main character Mina knows how to tell stories, and she has to tell them in order to try and revive the Sea God, and save her village. Of course, we have the mysterious Shin who protects the Sea God in his slumber, but beyond that has no soul. We have the goddess of motherhood who needs bribes to answer prayers, we have the goddess of the moon who seems to want to kill Mina for a reason I still don’t understand. We also have these really interesting spirits who seem to be helping her for absolutely no reason but the banter.
What if someone told you your fate was to climb up the highest waterfall and jump off ? Or to hurt the person you love most in the world? Or worse, to hurt the person who loves you most in the world? Fate is a tricky thing. It’s not for you, or me, or even the gods, to question what it is . . . or is not.
And then as Mina puts the pieces of the hundred year old mystery together, you basically want to cry. I mean the story of Dai and Miki, when Dai is hurt, and who they all are really are to Mina is insanely sweet and perfect. The way things change between her and Shin especially after the visit to the goddess of motherhood is really nicely done. In general I really loved Mina and Shin, and how they slowly came together, and the want her ancestors took care of her.
It was the boat that carried her. She would have fallen into the River of Souls if it weren’t for that cradle. Something crafted with so much love could never sink.
I’d never heard of the folktale ‘The Tale of Shim Cheong,’ before this, but honestly one doesn’t need to in order to love this book. And if you aren’t a fan or haven’t watched spirited away and the other things they mention in the blurb, you really don’t have to. The book is beautiful and lyrical and sucks you in.
I’m That there is no place you can go so far away from forgiveness. Not from someone who loves you
I also loved the inclusion of the folktale of the woodcutter and the maiden. I used to hear a version of that story as a child.
I’m leaving the book with 4.5 out of 5 stars. When forced to choose between four and 5 its definitely a 5 star read (Goodreads really needs to include that half point thing). I just felt like a certain section was a bit too rushed for my taste.
Axie Oh’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is an enthralling feminist retelling of the classic Korean folktale “The Tale of Shim Cheong,” perfect for fans of Wintersong, Uprooted, and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.
Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.
Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.
Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.
But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…
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