Blog 161: Book Review – ‘The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea’ by Axie Oh

May 18, 2023

If you love East Asian mythology and Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, then you will love this book.

Mina’s homeland has been ravaged by deadly storms for one hundred years. People believe it is because the Sea God is angry, so to appease him, a beautiful bride is thrown into the sea every year in the hopes that one day a ‘true bride’ will be chosen and bring an end to the storms. In order to protect her family, Mina jumps into the sea and is transported to the magical spirit realm where she finds the Sea God, but not in the state she imagined. The Sea God is trapped in an enchanted sleep and Mina is determined to wake him up. However, a human can only survive in the spirit realm for a month, and there are other gods and spirits who will do anything to stop her from achieving her goal.

A lovely, enchanting read which reimagines the Korean tale of Shim Cheong. Axie Oh’s depiction of the spirt realm is beautiful and other-worldly, and her writing carries a dreamlike quality.¬† There are a couple of twists that I’m ashamed to say I didn’t figure out before they were revealed, but they were satisfying. The characters are interesting and engaging, with a few humorous anecdotes from side characters too. There are strong themes of family, love and compassion throughout the story.

The main protagonist Mina is brave, kind and selfless. She never loses sight of her goal to wake the Sea God and save her family from the storms. There is a romantic interest, but it builds slowly and doesn’t take over the entire story or prevent Mina from following her goals.

Shin, Namgi, and Kirin, are interesting and unique characters, their loyalty to one another is as strong as a band of brothers. Shin being the main male protagonist drives a lot of the story, though at first he comes off as mean and cold as he is determined to protect the sleeping Sea God.

The Sea God has little to say in the story as he is asleep for most of the book, but he does manage to communicate with Mina through dreams and visions, all of which help Mina to discover the truth about the Sea God’s sleeping curse.

Dai, Mask, and Miki are adorable side characters who appear to help Mina in any way they can. Their identities were a mystery to me until they were finally revealed but there are lots of little hints throughout the story.

Overall, The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea is a charming and light-hearted read. It is well paced and it is easy to immerse yourself into this magical world. You don’t need to know anything about Korean mythology to enjoy the story, but if you love fairy tales, myths and folklore you will appreciate this book. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the cover art for this book is gorgeous and an accurate reflection of the story inside.¬†This book is suitable for teen, young adult and adult readers.

If you like this story then you may also like ‘The Ghost Bride’ by Yangsze Choo.