The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

The FairyLoot March 2022 book of the month!

Themes: YA, Fantasy, Retelling, Korea

The synopsis

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…

The review

Well, that was my first FairyLoot book and I loved it!

As someone who is very interested in Asia and especially in Korea, I was thrilled when I saw the theme for March 2022.

The author is saying in the FairyLoot interview that she wanted her book to give her readers the same feelings they have when watching a Ghibli studio movie. I am pleased to say that she entirely succeeded in her goal! The atmosphere was absolutely perfect and the writing quite poetic (even if some bits were repeated, especially in the beginning). I really had the feeling that a colourful animation movie was happening in front of me or to be dreaming. I was so immersed in this book that I even forgot that I was reading!

The book is not very complex in terms of plot or setting (it happens either in the spirit realm city or in the heroine’s village) but it did not bother me since I just wanted to see more of these places. The remark is the same for the characters, with a cast which was not a big one. But it was letting room for their individual stories, personalities, and relationships. I got attached to them really quickly and really enjoyed seeing how they were all linked together by the story.

The only thing that bothered me a bit was the romantic relationship between Mina and Shin. I found the evolution really quick: they barely know each other but are already considering themselves soulmates. And this issue of time is also present in the plot itself since when you are drawing towards the end of the book it seems that Mina has only spent a few days in the spirit realm, not a month!

In brief: One of the best books I have read so far this year! Even if the plot and worldbuilding remained simple til the end, there were still some plot twists that managed to surprise me so much I was focused on the world and the action happening instead of analysing everything as I usually do.

My rating: 5/5

4 thoughts on “The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh”

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