DNF Review: The Mermaid’s Child

The Mermaid’s Child, Jo Baker

Published March 17th 2015 by Vintage (first published 2004)
Paperback, 288 pages



In this fantastical novel, the acclaimed author of “Longbourn” brings us the magical story of a young girl in search of her mother…who just might be a mermaid. Malin has always been different, and when her father dies, leaving her alone, her choice is clear: stay, and remain an outsider forever, or leave in search of the mythical inheritance she is certain awaits her. Apprenticed to a series of strange and wonderful characters, Malin embarks on a grueling journey that crosses oceans and continents–from the high seas to desert plains–and leads to a discovery that she could never have expected.

Stopped at 32%

I was really excited about the Mermaid’s Child.  I have been wanting to read Baker’s Longbourn since it came out – but somehow I never get to it when I have it from the library.  I thought this new release of Baker’s previously published book sounded so fun and based on the reviews of Longbourn I jumped at the chance to read it.  Mermaids and adventure- what else would you want?  Malin was a really sad character. Her father dies, her grandmother hates her– basically no one in town likes her because of her mysterious mother. Malin is treated as less than a person all throughout the portion I read.  I understand that she was a “normal girl” in horrible circumstances, but she became way too sexualized and it made me really uncomfortable.  The book follows her journey to find her mother and Malin had met two people on the road and was about to have her second sexual relationship before I stopped reading.  I don’t think of myself as a prudish reader- but this was not for me.  I hope Malin finds a happy ending, I just don’t want to read about it. All that being said, there was some lovely writing in The Mermaid’s Child.   This wasn’t a book for me, but I will definitely read Longbourn!

Thank you Random House and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.


  1. Whoa, a DNF. That makes it easier for me – skipping this one. I did not love Longbourne. There was a whole portion on the beach that I found really strange and disjointed and I didn’t like the disdain that the characters had for the Bennetts. I did appreciate the level of detail about what it was like to be a servant at a time when every chore was so hard. But ultimately it wasn’t for me. But you know how I am about books with an Austen connection…

  2. I finished it and was left so thoroughly disappointed that I couldn’t help but wish I had DNF’d it. The whole book has such a different vibe than Longbourn that those who tried this one because of their love for the former were bound to be shocked and upset. Little Malin thinks nothing of using sex as a means to an end. It doesn’t get any better as the story progresses either. You definitely made the right choice there.

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