Here’s the spot where we recommend a children’s book every week – this time it’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea by Axie Oh.
The best kind of book is the one that allows for escape, an adventure into another world where reality gets left long behind. As the Godfather of Fantasy Neil Gaiman wrote, “Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them.” Rarely has that been as true as this novel, which is quite simply magical.
Mina’s village live at the mercy of the Sea God. Once their protector, he how 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.
Mina wasn’t meant to be this year’s tribute, but she sacrificed herself to protect the great love of her brother’s life. Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina finds the Sea God trapped in an enchanted sleep. She sets out to 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…
A soundbite for selling this book would be ‘Spirited Away with YA themes’ and it would be an accurate pitch. There’s a brave and bold female protagonist, a mysterious man who may be friend or foe, monsters lurking ready to strike and a quest to solve to save those she loves.
But that doesn’t quite do justice to how immersive and well-rendered the world building and characterization is within this feminist retelling of the Korean folk story The Tale Of Shim Cheong is. Reading this book is so transportive, it’s as if you are right with Mina as she braves what lurks beneath the sea. She’s a character you easily root for – determined to take control of her own fate and powerful in the choices she makes to ensure it happens.
Enthralling fantasy at its finest.
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