The Oyster Thief is sure to appeal to anyone who loved The Little Mermaid and just mermaids in general. But that description doesn’t do justice to the other issues in this story: the environment, love, and sacrifice.
Coralline is a shy mermaid in the Atlantic Ocean whose idyllic life is ruined by an oil spill that gravely sickens her little brother. Desperate to save him, she embarks on a quest to find a legendary elixir.
She encounters a human man, Izar, who’s left his life on land behind to find a cure for his dying father. He doesn’t tell her that his family runs Ocean Dominion, an enemy corporation whose ships plunder her waters daily.
Fate pushes the two of them together, even though their worlds are at odds. Accompanied by a colorful troupe of animals, Coralline and Izar travel through coral reefs and seabed cities, trailed by murderous adversaries and warring ships. Their secrets threaten to tear them apart, while a growing attraction adds to the danger.
Ultimately, each of them faces an impossible choice. Should Coralline remain with the world she knows, including her fiancé, or should she relinquish everything for a stranger who might betray her? And Izar holds a secret of his own—one that might cause him to lose Coralline forever.
As the biggest mermaid fan, I was instantly intrigued by The Oyster Thief. But if I thought this story was just going be a charming love story, then I was wrong. Like the ocean is deep, The Oyster Thief has layers that asks you important questions about sacrifice. Is it right to sacrifice others for what we want? This main theme is threaded throughout each layer of the story.
There was something about Coralline that I loved immediately. Whether it was because she was struggling with something I currently am – security versus adventure – or because she is a mermaid, who knows. Coralline is one of those characters you love immediately because you can see something of yourself in her. Whether it be her desperation for acclaim, or love for science, or the ways you lose your way on a path you’ve forgotten.
It took me longer to really like Izar, but once I did, I was hooked. While I loved Coralline first, and while she’s the obvious choice for my love, I actually came to love Izar more. Izar has to not only struggle with his origin, his own past, but his own ambitions. Is it right to sacrifice people for your own desires?
Which brings me to my themes – sacrifice. Each of these characters, even the side characters, each have to deal with the question of sacrifice. How much is too much? What do we sacrifice for? Whether it be the man we love, the mermaid who offers us more, or riches, they are asked if it the reward is high enough to pay the cost. And how easy it is to pay the cost if someone else is footing the bill.
No matter if they’re human or mermaid, they’re struggling with motives of greed, manipulation, and secrets.
But where The Oyster Thief sets itself apart from The Little Mermaid is the environmental concerns. This isn’t a retelling in the traditional sense. It brings more color, more detail, and more life to each of these aspects. Answering questions for us about what they’d eat, and more. The world building in this respect is lush.
Plots overseas and undersea unfurl for freedom, security, and power. If you’ve ever wanted to read a book with mermaids, environmental consequences, or just a story with a lot of heart, meet The Oyster Thief.
Do you have a favorite mermaid in literature or pop culture?
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