Tag Archives: short stories

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

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.

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.

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

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of MERMAIDS NEVER DROWN in exchange for my honest review.

Author Interview with Roshani Chokshi

Today I get to share some a questions and answers interview from one of my favorite authors! Can’t even say how excited I am about having a chance to ask Roshani Chokshi about the Star-Touched Series, which I’ve absolutely loved. Don’t miss details below about her latest book, a story collection of tales called Star-Touched Stories.

About Roshani Chokshi

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ROSHANI CHOKSHI is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes, and Aru Shah and the End of Time. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

Roshani Chokshi proved herself an author to watch with her young adult fantasy debut, The Star-Touched Queen and companion novel A Crown of Wishes. Debuting at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list, her novels received rave reviews from fans and critics alike and appeared on the most buzzed about lists for young adult novels. With STAR-TOUCHED STORIES (Wednesday Books; August 7, 2018), Chokshi adds to the Star-Touched world in three short stories, re-visiting some fan favorite characters. Exploring what happens after the happily ever after in Chokshi’s Star-Touched novels, her short stories are the perfect read for a taste of beautiful writing with delicious plots.

Q&A with Roshani Chokshi

 Out of all the characters in your novels, which one did you have the most fun writing about and who do you relate to the most personally? What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?

In the world of the Star – Touched Queen, I think the one who I related to the most was also the one that I had the most fun writing: Kamala! There’s just something about the demon horse that resonated a lot with me. I think it’s because she does everything that I would do in a fantasy story, which is frantically derail the plot and whine to her friends about how hungry she is all the time.

Where do your antagonists come from?

From my doubts.

What inspired you to create this fictional world? Were there anyRomo mythologies that particularly inspired you?

I was really inspired by the childhood stories that my grandmother told me. To me, they were so rich with details and texture that it really shocked me how these worlds and mythologies were never explored in mainstream literature. I was particularly inspired by Greek and Hindu mythology.

Why did you feel it was important to add Star-Touched Stories to this world you’ve created? What do you want readers to gain from the stories? Do you think there are any more stories to tell from the Star-Touched world, and if so, who you most like to write about next?

For me, this collection of stories is my farewell to the world that I created. It was extremely cathartic to write these three stories. I want readers to gain a sense of closure. I want readers to feel as much as I did when I with the stories. Who can say whether or not there are more stories left to tell in this world? 😉

Will you miss writing this world and characters?

Absolutely! They lived in my head for so long that I feel strangely weightless to be without them.

What was your favorite scene to write from Star-Touched Stories, and what was your favorite scene to write from the whole series?

Honestly, my favorite scene that I wrote was the last scene the last story. I think you’ll see why. As for my favorite scene that I wrote from the whole series, I think it would have to be the moment when Maya first enters the Night Bazaar.

Is there a scene or character from one of your stories that you’ve had to cut which you really wish you could share with readers?

There once was a speaking monkey character… But I had to let go of him. Maybe he’ll reappear some other time.

How is writing short stories different than writing a full-length book? How different is it to write young adult and middle grade fiction? How has your writing evolved?

Writing short stories is really different from writing a full-length book because you’re ultimately writing to a punchline in a shorter amount of space. There is less space to explore so the language must be very deliberate. I think my writing has evolved to become a lot more character focused than I once was. I still love gorgeous, decadent prose, but I believe that the best kind of language is that which is emotionally filtered through the feelings of a character.

What is the best advice you would give to inspiring writers?

Read often. I realize that sounds trite, but so many people retread the same path with stories out of comfort or nostalgia. I totally understand this and I’m one of those people who loves to reread my favorite books but I never found a sense of my own writing voice or writing style without reading a wide variety of works.

What sort of music do you listen to when you write?

I mostly listen to music to get me in the mood for writing rather than listening to music to get me through a scene. I think the only times I listen to music when I’m writing is if I’m in a third or fourth round of revisions. Otherwise I get distracted.

If any of your books were given an adaptation, would you rather it be a movie, TV show, web series, or stage musical?

For The Gilded Wolves, I would rather see that as a miniseries. For both books in the Star-Touched universe, I’d rather see those as movies.

Favorite myth and how has it inspired your writing? What was your inspiration for these stories?

I think my favorite myth is Hades and Persephone. I love the atmosphere, the goth undercurrent, the power dynamic. I love the movement of princess to Queen.

About Star-Touched Stories

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Publication date: August 7, 2018
Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.

Death and Night

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

Poison and Gold

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram’s new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.

Rose and Sword

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth?