Review » The Dark Mermaid by Christina L. Barr

About the Book

The Dark Mermaid

by Christina L. Barr

“True love is not a myth. It’s mystic. It’s a force in the universe that draws two people together, resulting in incredible power, for either good or complete chaos.”

On the day Luna proves that she is powerful enough to be her father’s heir, she is banished for saving the life of an enchanting human boy. Her father, the king, gives her two options: kill Ian and regain her honor by the time she comes of age, or be destroyed.

Luna finds shelter in forbidden waters and comes under the protection of her father’s greatest enemy, the Sea Witch. As her ward, Luna becomes a fearsome warrior, but struggles with the fear of turning her powerful magic dark.

With only days remaining before her seventeenth birthday, Luna finds Ian sailing the seas in search of answers. Luna is determined to escape her father’s wrath, and the Sea Witch’s plot of revenge, but dark forces won’t allow her to live a human life without making an impossible sacrifice.
I received an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


I was immediately drawn to The Dark Mermaid when I saw the gorgeous cover. I fell in love with it and upon reading the premise, I knew that I had to read this book. I was intrigued by the promise of a Little Mermaid retelling and I wanted more. And while the story was interesting enough to keep me reading all the way through, I just felt it lacking more often than not. It wasn't that it was bad, I just felt that there could have been more. There was so much that just seemed off to me and continued to pull me out of my immersion into the story that I had trouble reading it at times, but then at other times, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

The overall theme and world of The Dark Mermaid is what kept me reading, as well I liked Luna fairly enough and was intrigued by the possibility of her eventually overcoming her evil father to rule over Atlantis and change the destructive and violent ways of their people. I wanted to see her get strong enough to fight him for the throne, save Ian and live happily ever after. I wanted to see her save the Sea Witch from herself and calm the storm raging, not only in the Sea Witch but herself as well. I have to say that I was rather disappointed in the events that took place. Luckily The Dark Mermaid didn't end on a cliffhanger, but it did leave the story open enough for you to want more. However, I'm not entirely sure I want to continue on to read the sequel.

Christina made me care just enough about Luna, Ian, and Napa to want to find out what happens with them, but I also found myself cringing at them and the things that they did or said. Luna was often childish and naive, and I found myself wanting to yell at her, "what are you doing?" and smack some sense into her. She was far too trusting of the Sea Witch, who has an insane backstory and closer ties to Luna than she imagined possible. And for being a fearsome Sea Witch, I was never truly scared for Luna at all, even though Luna claimed she should be scared of her (and then really wasn't...what?). Luna's relationship with Napa, while somewhat enjoyable, took an odd turn and then I just simply didn't know how I felt about them after that and I still kind of don't. There ended up being a weird love triangle between Luna, Ian, and Napa and it just didn't feel right to me. And don't get me started on the whole insta-love, it's fate and destiny thing that was going on with Luna and Ian. Yes, I know that happened in the Little Mermaid, but still. I had a hard time connecting with their relationship because of it, especially with all the baggage that came along with it. Ian was far too trusting of Luna, even when she showed him her dark side. And then there was the whole throwing in other magical creatures, which I kind of get because, you know, mermaids are a magical/mythical creature, but up until that point it wasn't really ever hinted at and then BAM! there they are, and I don't know. It just felt weird to me. It wasn't something that really eased into or touched on, and it didn't seem to fit well into the story to me, except to add a little drama.

The Dark Mermaid was certainly an interesting take on The Little Mermaid and while it held my attention to some degree, I still felt that it was lacking in some areas and I often found myself having a difficult time fully connecting to the characters and the world. I will note that this was an ARC I was reading, and I was notified that it has been revised to a degree so I'm taking that into account for you as a reader of my review. I'm not sure of the changes that were made to the story and I've also read very positive reviews of this book as well, so while it may not have been exactly my cup of tea, you may very much enjoy it. Don't let my rather negative review discourage you from giving The Dark Mermaid a chance, because the issues I've discussed in my review may have been resolved in the final edition.