Title: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea
Author: Axie Oh
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: February 22nd, 2022
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy – Mythology Retelling
My rating in stars:
My rating in words:
I liked it!
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
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…
MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):
“Nothing extraordinary is ever done out of reason or logic but because it’s the only way for your soul to breathe.”
The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea first caught my eye because of the cover – I mean, look at it, it’s absolutely gorgeous – but when I learned it was based on Korean mythology and the Tale of Shim Cheong, a Korean classical novel about a girl who throws herself into the sea as a sacrifice to help her blind father, this became a must read.
Though this story is not about Shim Cheong herself, but a girl named Mina. On the day Shim Cheong is to become the Sea God’s bride as a sacrifice to try and stop the deadly storms that have been ravaging their world, Mina follows her and throws herself into the sea in Shim Cheong’s place so she can help her brother, who is in love with Shim Cheong. Mina is then transported into the Spirit Realm, where she learns the Sea God is cursed and a Sea God’s bride isn’t all that safe either. She has one month to try and end the curse, so she starts working with the mysterious Lord Shin and meets gods, mythical creatures like dragons, imugi and kirin, and of course some spirits along the way.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea is a magical story. The mythology and worldbuilding is very vivid, vibrant and unique. I loved discovering the Spirit Realm together with Mina. The story feels like a fairytale and is an amazing world to escape into. I’d love to see this become a movie, because it has so much potential for it.
Our main character Mina is a fun heroine – she’s very loyal to her family which I adored, and also has some sass to her. Her banter with the characters she meets, especially Namgi and Shin, were fun to read. I also really enjoyed the friendships that were built and the light found family vibe. There’s also a romance that was a little predictable, sure, but it did the trick and tugged at my heartstrings anyway.
The only downside to me was that it felt like a ‘light’ story. I needed a little more weight to everything. More worldbuilding, more time with the characters, more time to feel what they’re feeling. I feel like the writing went so fast that there was barely any time to get to know the characters and to understand their relationships. It felt like friendships and romantic feelings sprung out of nowhere, not there one minute and the next *poof, I love you now*. I wanted more development for the friendships, more development for the romance, and a tad more worldbuilding and explanation as to why some things happened and why characters were acting a certain way.
That said, I still really enjoyed the story and would definitely recommend it. It’s a magical fairytale that is the perfect read if you’re in the mood to escape into a fantastical world filled with mythical creatures, epic heroines and a sweet romance.
“I was angry, but not at you. I was angry at the fate I’d been given. Because I realized that for you to have what you want, I’d have to lose the only thing I’d ever wanted”
“Sometimes, only through a story can a truth be heard.“
“That’s just like a human to think the world revolves around you, to think the rivers are for you, the sky, the sea is for you. You are just one of many parts of the world, and in my opinion, the one that blights them all.“
“Stories are both an escape from the truths of the world and the only way to see them clearly.“