Review: Mermaids Never Drown edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker

Mermaids Never Drown: Tales to Dive For edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker

Mermaids Never Drown: Tales to Dive For
Edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker
Feiwel & Friends
Published September 26, 2023

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About Mermaids Never Drown

14 Young Adult short stories from bestselling and award-winning authors make a splash in Mermaids Never Drown – the second collectionin theUntold Legends series edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker – exploring mermaids like we’ve never seen them before!

A Vietnamese mermaid caught between two worlds. A siren who falls for Poseidon’s son. A boy secretly pining for the merboy who saved him years ago. A storm that brings humans and mermaids together. Generations of family secrets and pain.

Find all these stories and more in this gripping new collection that will reel you in from the very first page! Welcome to an ocean of hurt, fear, confusion, rage, hope, humor, discovery, and love in its many forms.

Edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Mermaids Never Drown features beloved authors like Darcie Little Badger, Kalynn Bayron, Preeti Chhibber, Rebecca Coffindaffer, Julie C. Dao, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Adriana Herrera, June Hur, Katherine Locke, Kerri Maniscalco, Julie Murphy, Gretchen Schreiber, and Julian Winters.

Mermaids Never Drown on Goodreads

My Review

There’s a pretty large range of stories in this collection, some exploring romance and others the power of family. Some also explore the way they merfolk could be treated as other and denied basic rights. I enjoyed the range of topics and interpretations probably as much as any single story. I’ve written brief reactions to each story, but I’ll group them under topic, so they’re not in the order they appear in the book.


Storm Song by Rebecca Coffinder – I think this one is my favorite. It’s in second person point of view (speaking directly to the reader), which is unusual. It really worked in this piece, though. I loved the intensity and the high-action feel of the story.

Return to the Sea by Kalynn Bayron – This one is the most anchored in the present world where, instead of discussing allyship in the context of race or gender/sexual identity, it’s discussed in terms of environmental impact. The story also draws attention to the way that what we want for animals sometimes diverges from what’s good for them.

The Merrow by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker – A tenuous friendship between a girl and the mermaid kept in captivity at the aquarium where her mother works. I loved the otherworldliness and humanity of the merrow and the sweetness of her relationship with Josie.


We’ll Always Have June by Julian Winters – A sweet summer romance. The innocence and sweetness of this one perfectly offset the ferocity of some of the other stories. I’ve loved everything by Julian Winters that I’ve read, so this was bound to be a hit for me.

The Dark Calls by Preeti Chhibber – This one takes place completely underwater, and I loved the way the characters challenged divisions beneath the sea. This fully captured the curiosity and precociousness that I think of as central to the Little Mermaid stories I grew up with.

The Nightingale’s Lament by Kerri Maniscalco – Definitely more of a classic sexy-siren vibe in this one. I liked that the story wasn’t headed where I expected.

The First and Last Kiss by Julie Murphy – Twins as rivals. Merpeople who spend a year walking the land for two nights a month. Romance. This one has so much to love.

Shark Week by Maggie Tokuda-Hall – I thought this was so clever. And again, a story that went places I didn’t expect. There’s one reference to something in the story that made me pretty queasy, but the story moves past that moment pretty quickly.


The Story of a Knife by Gretchen Schreiber – Oh, man. I loved the way this one took the original story of the Little Mermaid, changed it up a little bit, and added a distant epilogue. Really enjoyed it.

The Deepwater Vandal by Darcie Little Badger – This one might be my second favorite in the collection. I loved that it focuses on family relationships. This full and compelling story left no room for romance, and I didn’t miss it.

Sea Wolf in Prince’s Clothing by Adriana Herrera – This is another one that explores some social/political themes about consent and autonomy and racism in the context of humans and mermaids. I liked the tension and the characters in this one.

Nor’Easter by Katherine Locke – I feel like I should not have been surprised that this author chose a historical setting for their short story, but somehow I still was. But I was also delighted. I loved the way the story is anchored in a real moment in history but creates room for merpeople and a celebration of family.

Jinju’s Pearls by Jun Hur – This one blew me away. It perfectly captures the longing for a different life that I think of as classic to the Little Mermaid and what the terrible cost of such a life would be.

Six Thousand Miles by Julie C. Dao – This reminded me a little bit of the author’s note from THE MAGIC FISH, in which Trung Le Nguyen talks about how the story of the Little Mermaid has always resonated with him as an immigrant story. This captured that idea perfectly. I loved that the main character didn’t accept easy answers and had to figure out how to forge her own path forward.


This makes a well-rounded collection of stories exploring love, independence, family bonds, and human rights. I really enjoyed reading this one.

Mermaids Never Drown on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

14 stories with diverse casts of characters, including LGBTQIA+, Indigenous, Black, Asian, and Latine characters. One character’s parent is an abortion doctor.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. Kissing between two boys. Brief nudity, sometimes used sexually and sometimes just referenced as part of changing from human to mermaid/merman. One story includes graphic sexual references to sex and the desire for sex.

Spiritual Content
Vague references to prayer. In one story, sirens use their songs to cause human death in order to appease the gods. One Indigenous character briefly prays to the Creator. In another story, the son of a sea god battles a siren.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. References to mermaids or similar characters killing humans. One character craves a particular kind of blood during her monthly cycle. The story doesn’t show her interacting with it and refers to it as a “creepy” desire.

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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