Urban Mermaid is a lovely book that is part romance, part paranormal fantasy, and part myth. Parsons takes a very common literary trope, boy meets girl, and turns it on its tail. Penelope Tench is a young mermaid who has failed in her mission to find a mate either on Colony Island, where she grew up, or in the city where she now lives and works. She takes her failure to heart and is set on going off to the desert to lie down and die, until…
Yes, until she meets her perfect match. The rest of the story spools out their courtship and romance at a very steady pace. Penelope and her future mate Peter are reasonably well-drawn characters with more positive personality points than flaws, but they do both have minor flaws. As the story unfolds we see their relationship build from initial antagonism to undying love and throughout this process, we are introduced to Penelope’s family and friends on Colony Island. Colony, is populated by merfolk who have run a commercial fishing business based on the island since the early days of the colonization of the United States.
I loved the mythos that Parsons has developed for his merfolk, but characters in the book are almost too good to be true. Are denizens of the ocean, with its vast piscine population, that much more accepting of others’ differences than we land dwellers? Or, have the merfolk lived amongst humans long enough for the differences to become a non-issue? Either way. this would have to be my one of my main complaints with this story. Everything and I do mean everything, that Penelope and Peter face during their courtship is overcome almost as easily as making a wish. Peter is instantly accepted by the residents of the island. Penelope has no problem taking large amounts of time away from her corporate comptroller job. They need a larger place to live and it appears, etc. While I loved the prose and the slow build of this couple’s relationship I felt that a little bit of conflict that had to be worked through rather than instantly solved would have given this story more substance.
Parsons has a great vocabulary and uses it well, I only wish that he would have ‘shown’ us more of his world. What does the water look like from the bottom of the sea? What does Peter’s juice actually taste like? What are either of our two main protagonists feeling the first time they make love? Some of the best advice on writing I ever received was to remember that your reader can only see what you tell them to see. This lovely book would have been enriched by more (and better) descriptive passages. There was plenty of dialog, but not much to prop the dialog up.
That said; do not let these drawbacks keep you from reading and enjoying this book. Just bear in mind that reading this novel is a little like eating a meal of desserts, the sweetness of everything can be overwhelming at times; but sometimes sweet is exactly what you crave.
Urban Mermaid is published by Moonlight Garden Publications and is available in paperback and e-format on Amazon.