Book Title: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea
Author: Axie Oh
Release Date: February 22nd, 2022
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
My rating: 4/5 Stars
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…
Sometimes you come across a book, and after looking at the cover and reading the description, you know you just have to read that book. This is what happened when I stumbled upon a blog post a while back, which highlighted a bunch of upcoming releases to keep an eye out for. As soon as I saw The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea, I knew it was a book I would want to read.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is such a whimsical and lovely book, with stunning imagery and descriptions. This book is inspired by Korean mythology and had a fairytale-esque feel to it. From the moment Mina arrives in the Spirit Realm, I was enraptured by the world and was always wanting more. The market especially captivated me, and the descriptions of the scenery, food, and people helped the area to come alive vibrantly in my mind.
I really loved the writing style in this. It didn’t feel too stilted like some fairytale-like books do, but it wasn’t so modern and fast-paced that it felt out of place. There was a richness to the style, and my favorite part was that it was easy to read and understand, while still feeling elegant and lovely. Another interesting thing is that this book was written in first person. Normally I would prefer third person for a book such as this, but I think I would’ve felt too distanced from the characters had that been the case, so it was a smart choice to keep it in first person.
While on the subject of characters, I really enjoyed reading about our main protagonist Mina and the perilous journey she has to endure. She was especially determined and would do anything for those she loves. Shin’s character was also of particular interest. At first he comes across as standoffish and maybe a little shallow, but the longer we spend with him, the more we realize that is far from the case. There’s a big reveal about him toward the end, that while exciting, I did predict very early on (though I was kind of excited about that, because I love predicting plot points!).
However, my favorite character was probably Namgi. I felt he had a lot of depth to him; he was funny and added a lot of comedic relief, but he also had a lot of other things going on. He was well-rounded and developed. I wish we’d gotten more backstory and explanation on his relationship with Kirin. I never fully understood what Kirin’s issue with Namgi was, but even so, I enjoyed watching them grow closer as the book went on. My only wish would have been a little more page time with them.
Something I really enjoyed about The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea was how complex the story was. At first, it seems rather simple, but as it went along and new nuggets of information were introduced, I began to wonder whether I had the whole picture, and the answer is that I didn’t. While I was able to piece a lot of it together as it progressed, there was still a lot that I had missed, and by the time everything was revealed in the end, it truly became apparent how intricate the story is. I was so impressed!
While I enjoyed most of this book, I felt the pacing was the weakest part of the story. It felt off at times. One minute, something exciting with high stakes would occur, but the next, slow scenes ensued for several chapters. It felt a little jarring at times, going from non-stop action to drawn out sequences, then right back into more action. This is the biggest reason this book was only four stars for me. It did have the potential to be a five star read, but it didn’t quite get there, unfortunately.
Despite that, I really liked this one! The take on the myth was so interesting, and unlike any other fantasy I’ve read. If you’re a fan of YA myth-based fantasy, I definitely recommend this!
I’m so glad I was able to read The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea, and I can’t wait to see what other books Axie Oh has in store!
Is the Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea on your TBR?
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Check out my last ARC Review: A Marvellous Light