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Publisher's Summary

Hans Christian Andersen's original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans in the UK. 

The days of my childhood kept turning over, dissolving like sea foam on the crest of the waves. I have been counting them, the days and the nights, the weeks, the months, the years. I have been waiting for this day. 

Deep beneath the cold, stormy sea, Gaia is a mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. Gaia longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice?   

Hans Christian Andersen’s world-famous fairy tale is re-imagined through a searing feminist lens by one of our most talented writers. This is a book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries – storytelling at its most spellbinding. 

©2019 Louise O’Neill (P)2019 Scholastic Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A masterpiece." (Marian Keyes)

"A fierce torrent of a book, raging and forceful and gripping. I was swept away." (Kiran Millwood Hargrave)

"Her prose cuts and rages and her vision of the Sea Witch is truly transformative." (The Observer)

What listeners say about The Surface Breaks

Average Customer Ratings

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • LBS
  • 11-03-20

little bit of a let down

Sadly this didn’t hit the mark for me. I was expecting a feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid, but it really didn’t have a big feminist message. It felt oppressive at times.

Narrator was brilliant and she kept my listening long after i’d stop caring about the story.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Heather Trow
  • 24-03-21

Dark Retelling of The Little Mermaid

This was good. I might even prefer it to the original! It's described as a feminist retelling, but after reading it I'm left wondering about the author's (or maybe the marketing teams?) definition of feminism. The main character transforms from nieve, obedient mermaid to murderous, male-hating rusalka. Her perception becomes so skewed because of her anger she joins a race of creatures whose specific purpose is to murder men. Not that I blame her. 90% of the male characters in this book are trash. They behave so disgustingly towards the women that <i>someone</i> needs to yeet them straight into the rubbish bin. This is a dark, depressing retelling of The Little Mermaid.