by Kim Young-Hee
First book in the Evyione: Ocean Fantasy series
Everyone knows Andersen’s fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”, right? A young mermaid falls in love with a prince and wants to become human so that they can be together. In this Korean revision of the tale, the genders are reversed, bringing a new twist to an old classic. The King of the Sea has become infatuated with a princess he rescued from a sinking ship. He goes to the Witch of the Sea and begs her to give him the sun; when she presses for more information, he explains that he is haunted by the memory of the warm skin and the rapid beat of the princess’ heart, so different from his own cool skin. Meanwhile, the princess – an energetic young woman named Evyione - has been stranded on the shores of a strange land. She cannot understand how she got from her ship to the beach without even a scratch, and she has no idea what to do next. A mysterious stranger appears and helps her buy dry clothes and shelter, but she doesn’t even know his name.
The art of this graphic novel is stunning. The artist fills her panels with elegant, delicate figures dressed in the finest Baroque gowns or surrounded by hair that swirls and floats in the ocean like seaweed. The faces of the merpeople tend to be mask-like and fairly emotionless, while the human characters have much more expressive faces and gestures. It’s like the difference between a Calvin Klein model on a magazine page and an actress in a colorful movie – both lovely to look at, but two very different kinds of beauty.
This little mermaid is not for your little ones. The Witch of the Sea has no use for seashells, if you know what I mean. The transformation of the King of the Sea into a human is also fairly gruesome – you can see his tail being torn into two bloody pieces and his fish-skin is flayed from his body. It’s not a pretty sight.
I really liked the changes to Andersen’s original story. In this version, the merman isn’t exactly in love with the princess; he admits to the Witch that he doesn’t remember what Evyione’s face is like. He loves what she represents – the sun, something different and warmer than his watery world. I’ve seen that spin in other versions of the fairy tales – Carolyn Turgeon’s version springs to mind, but I’m sure there are others.
Of course, the story’s only just beginning. The first volume of this series ends right as the merman and Evyione meet for the first time after his transformation. But it looks like the rest of this series was never translated. What a pity. Because of this, I’m not sure whether I’d recommend it or not! On the one hand, it’s a beautiful series and fairy tale fans will love it. On the other hand, there’s little more frustrating than starting a series and being unable to finish it.
5 out of 5 stars
To read more about Evyione: Ocean Fantasy Vol. 1, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: The Left Hand of God by Adolf Holl
2011: Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
2010: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith
2009: When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall