The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh
Published: February 22, 2022
Format: E-book 📱
Tags: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Korean Mythology, Romance
| Synopsis from the Publisher |
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…
Keywords to describe this book:
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Feiwel & Friends through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
| 📖 Content 📖 |
📘 Magical world that fulfills all my fantasy genre wants!
Enter the Sea God’s kingdom, where spirits of the dead roam and demons lurk and gods and goddesses walk. Oh has created a vivid, fascinating world in which to set her book. One of my favorite things about this story is the setting. I loved reading about all the different gods and goddesses, the pavilions and the food, the magic of this world. Through Mina, we get to see so much of this underwater kingdom, and I love how rich and full it is. The best thing about the fantasy genre is visiting new worlds, escaping the world of the mundane. This book definitely does that, and it’s such a cool world to explore. I enjoyed every minute in it.
📘 Korean mythology and retelling that hits the spot.
Though I was not previously familiar with the story of Shim Cheong, I enjoyed the mythological aspects of the book. Exploring another area of mythology unfamiliar to me is always fun and I’ve been enjoying getting to know more and more Korean myths. Though not familiar with the original tale, Oh weaves in the origin story within her own, so you can see how she has created a new version around the bones of the old. I really liked seeing the similarities between the two and getting to know the classic while experiencing a retelling.
📘 Mina and Shin!
Another couple that I enjoyed reading. At first, I wasn’t so sure about Shin. He was very aloof, very set in his ways, and not at all willing to compromise or hear Mina out. But as the story progressed and he and Mina experienced so many upheavals together, got to know each other, and came to trust one another, I was very much won-over. I like that their story was not assured, that there were many twists and set-backs. Theirs was not an easy love and it was interesting to see where Oh was going with their different paths. If you like enemies-to-lovers, this is a mild one, but it’s very much enjoyable, as it is definitely a relationship born out of time and growth.
📘 Family goals! Ancestors to the rescue! Bad ass grandmas!
I so enjoyed the family aspect of this story. Mina is supported by and deeply cares for her grandmother, who taught her her people’s myths, who taught her how to tell stories, and how to defend herself. I also enjoyed the family Mina comes to know and rely on while in the Sea God’s kingdom. There are so many amazing connections that this story is supported by and I loved each reveal and getting to see a YA story where family is strong and very much a part of the MC’s life. I also really loved seeing Mina’s love for her brother and that she started this adventure by stepping in to help her brother and his love. There is such faith and trust in family in this story, which was awesome.
| 📝 Literary Value 📝 |
The concept of storytelling is a theme throughout the book. I think Oh does an excellent job of weaving her own story and coloring it like a fairy tale. The whole book feels magical and mythical, just like the stories told inside it, which I found really cool. I also think the characters that Oh peoples this story with are really well rendered. Mina is such a fantastic character. She is strong, but she has her own vulnerabilities, she learns and grows over the story, but most of all, she shows determination and dedication. I also enjoyed the side characters in this story. They all feel like the many tricksters and mischief makers that you might see in classic fairy tales.
With a strong story, full of interesting characters and magical world-building, I definitely think this book is capable of sweeping you away on a fantastical journey. And for that, I think it stands out from other YA books I’ve read.
| 🎭 Entertainment Factor 🎭 |
I read this book so fast – it was so enjoyable. I didn’t want it to end. The pace of it is steady, with spikes of action that have you turning pages. I found the development of the main characters to be the most compelling portion of the story, however, which was quite interesting to me. The relationships made, not just between the two leads, but also between family was so interesting drew me into the story. I would love to see another book set in this world, because it was just so vivid and complex. The story being set in this world of spirits definitely made me enjoy the story even more.
| My Rating |
My New Favorite Thing
This book is everything I hoped it would be. It hits all the great fantasy genre notes: mythical creatures (dragons!), magic, a great fantasy setting (the spirit world!), epic fight scenes, and a curse that must be broken. I love the world Oh has built, this kingdom beneath the sea, where spirits of the dead can linger and live, rather than pass on straight to Heaven. It’s a place of wonder and adventure, and a great backdrop for the heroine’s quest to break the Sea God’s curse and save her people.
Mina is such a fun main character – I love her wit, her storytelling abilities, and her determination. She doesn’t back down from people if she has a cause she believes it. The verbal sparring between her and Shin, the male lead, is so fun to read. I think they are a great match and watching them grow to respect and care for each other over the course of the book is really nice.
Though I am not familiar with the story of Shim Cheong, Oh does an excellent job of weaving in this Korean myth, and does a really great job of twisting it and transforming it into her own story. This book feels mythical to read and I felt swept away by the magic of this story. I am a sucker for mythologies, and I’ve been dying to read more Korean mythologies. I’m so happy that Oh has this opportunity to share this myth with the wider world.
I highly recommend this, 5 stars for me!
How about you?
Let me know what you think! If you’ve read The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea, share your thoughts! If not – are you going to read it or pass on it? Tell me all about it in the comments. Keep up the reading!