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…(Goodreads)
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022
Genres: YA, Fantasy
The Girl Who fell beneath the sea was one of my most anticipated reads ever since seeing the gorgeous cover and reading the intriguing synopsis and also that it was compared to having Spirited Away vibes. It delivered really well and I loved it so here are 5 reasons you should pick it up as your next read:
Atmospheric and Magical Setting
This book was compared to having Spirited Away vibes and as a Ghibli fan I was definitely excited to read it and I’m so glad it delivered on this part. The setting of the human world and the underwater Spirit Realm world are stunning, written beautifully in a way which will instantly transport you to the world.
You know how in movies we see specks of gold in the air in and around magic? Reading this book gives you that feeling. The world building is amazing and all the different realms are described so well too. This was my favourite part of the book. The covers for this book are so gorgeous and the inside of the book exactly matches the vibes of the cover.
This book had multiple characters and all of them had their part to play in the plot, even if it’s a small part it somehow tied together in the end for all of them. The main character is Mina, who jumps in to the river instead of Shim Cheong as the Sea God’s bride, as Shim is her brother Joon’s beloved and she wanted to save them. So right from the start we see her braveness and love for her family. I loved reading about Mina and her character was splendidly written.
Mina then meets Shin, Namgi and Kirin who her navigate the underwater realm. Namgi becomes fast friends with Mina though Kirin is a little reserved. Shin takes some time to weave himself in the hearts of readers and Mina but he’s definitely one of my favourites. The next trio is Dai, Mask and Miki who always appear when Mina needs help and Mina trusts them easily and their characters remain intriguing till the end. The Sea God’s character is mysterious and will keep you wondering.
There are gods, demons and spirits in the book and you’ll have to read the book to find out more but as I said earlier that every character plays an integral part, however small and ties in really well with the plot and it really impressed me at how well it was done.
An Intriguing Plot to keep you hooked
The story is inspired by Korean mythology and the author does a wonderful job of weaving this part with the story and the world. The plot starts with Mina’s homeland which is ravaged by deadly storms and wars and they think that the Sea God , who was once their protector has cursed them, In order to appease him, every year a maiden is thrown in the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride. This time Shim Cheong is chosen but she loves Joon, Mina’s brother, and when Joon tries to follow her, Mina jumps in the sea to save them.
Mina is then swept in the world of Spirit Realm where, through the Red String of Fate, she finds the Sea God in an enchanted sleep and in trying to figure out how to wake him and save the village she crosses path with Shin, Namgi and Kirrin. The plot is intriguing and though at times predictable it only makes it more enjoyable as you read how it all unfolds. There are politics and betrayals and curses and it adds that perfect mix to make the story more alluring.
The writing is really beautiful and it matches really well with the vibes of the character and the world. I always try to notice this in books of whether the writing matches the voice and vibes of the world and this book does exactly that. It makes the magical part of the world also shine through its writing and thus making it an overall gorgeous read. The pacing is also pretty good and it flows really well as you read.
Themes of love, family, friendship and loyalty
The Girl who fell beneath the sea focuses on family and loyalty not just from Mina’s side but also her family. We see the soft and delicate love blossoming for Mina, her friendships, old and new and how they help her throughout the book. The world of gods and spirits and curses is all written so well. All these themes are dealt with really well and it’s the kind of book which leaves you happy at having read it.
Overall, The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea was a magical, lush and atmospheric YA fantasy inspired by Korean mythology with Spirited Away vibes. It has beautiful writing and intriguing characters and I highly recommend this book especially for Ghibli fans and fans of soft, magical fantasy!
I was sent an eARC of the book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.
Have you read this book? Are you planning on reading it? Tell me about it!