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…
Thank you to the publisher, Hodder, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I read XOXO by Axie Oh last year and I loved it so much, and when I saw she was writing a whimsical fantasy I couldn’t wait to read it. This book is incredibly different from the K-pop contemporary that is XOXO, and I was hesitant to go into such a different book by the same author.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is inspired by Korean legend and weaves together an intricate tale of love and sacrifice. I’ve heard that this is inspired by Spirited Away, which I’m not sure is true but I can definitely see some similarities. I love Studio Ghibli and I can see the comparison, it definitely has the same whimsical tone.
I was angry at the fate I’d been given.
I did find myself feeling quite lost in the story sadly, and it felt complicated to start with. I didn’t fully get into the book until at least halfway through, and I definitely found myself enjoying the second half so much more. I loved the idea of the characters, but I just sadly didn’t find myself connecting to them as much as I wanted to. I think due to the way the plot is a main focus, and some aspects of the location needed a lot of explaining, the characters do seem overshadowed in places.
I loved the location and it sounded absolutely beautiful, but I had to really let go and immerse myself in the story to actually picture it crystal clear in my head. When I did manage to picture the world, however, I fell in love with it.
Because I realised that in order for you to have what you want, I’d have to lose the only thing I’ve ever wanted.
There was so much to love about this book, but I did lack a connection to the story sadly. I’d be tempted to re-read it in the future, to see how it feels on a second try!
3.5 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽