The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea
Feiwel & Friends
Published February 22, 2022
Goodreads recommended Axie Oh’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea because I read Daughter of the Moon Goddess, which also has a cover by the amazing Kuri Huang. The gorgeous cover art and the plot summary convinced me to add it to my TBR pile and now of course I’ve added Oh’s other books as well.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is the retelling of the Korean folktale “The Tale of Shim Chong,” only Oh’s version differs considerably. Knowing that her brother is in love with Shim Chong, Mina takes her place as a sacrifice to the Sea God. She pretty much expects to drown, but instead she finds herself in the Spirit Realm under the sea (think more Spirited Away under water than The Little Mermaid). Mina hopes to finally break the Sea God’s curse and save her people from suffernig, but before she has a chance to even figure out how to break the curse some freaking dudes give her a whole other problem to deal with.
One of my favourite things about Mina as a character is that although she finds herself in a magical world, she herself doesn’t possess any magic, so she’s forced to face every challenge with only her wits, powers of persuasion (the normal kind, not, like, actual powers) and storytelling. She’s also stubborn and rash, not particularly talented or beautiful, and of course the one ultimately destined to solve the mystery of the Sea God because why else would this be a book?
The novel has a large cast of characters in addition to Mina, all of whom are pretty great. My particular favourites are Kirin and Namgi, and their strange bromance. While I don’t think there was actually any more room for them in the novel, I desperately wanted more of their story. (Unneccesary sidebar: this evening I attended an online chat with Oh and Judy I. Lin, author of A Magic Steeped in Poison, that was hosted by Print Bookstore and during the Q&A I asked if there was any chance of a prequel or sequel with these two and Oh said there was always a chance…)
Anyway, all of the characters are great, the plot plays out nicely with action, romance, mythical creatures, and a more than satisfying ending (although during the chat Oh revealed she’d written an epilogue that got cut, and obviously everyone in attendance was all “Want!”)
If you enjoyed Daughter of the Moon Goddess or Spirited Away, you will love this book as much as I did.