Son of a Mermaid, by Katie O’Sullivan

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00038]As an author of a Young Adult mermaid story, I decided that I wanted to see what else was out there in the genre. The first book I chose to read was Son of a Mermaid by Katie O’Sullivan because, like my book, it was set on the coast and surrounding waters of New England. I’m thrilled that my exploration into the ocean of YA-mermaid-stories started here because it was an absolutely delightful story.

The story starts in Oklahoma—perhaps the most unlikely place in America to begin a story that involves mermaids. Shea McNamara, the main character, is just trying to fit in at school. He’s exceptionally bright with a tremendous memory, which he often hides to appear somewhat normal. An unfortunate tragedy strikes, and Shea loses his father in a tornado. Having never met his mother, Shea is forced to move to Cape Cod to live with his grandmother.

There he meets two girls: the nosy-neighbor/trustworthy-sidekick Hailey and the mysteriously enchanting Kae. These two characters and Shea are quite distinct, and the interactions between them read true. Shea needs this support system because he’s not connecting with his grandmother and he’s already gotten in trouble for walking his dog on the beach—even though he admirably cleans up (and lists) garbage from the beach.

When he falls into the water, a strange transformation occurs, and Shea develops gills. It turns out that he may be the titular Son of a Mermaid. Kae is also a mermaid whose family serves a princess. Under the sea, she’s about to be married for the purely political reason of uniting mermaids from different oceans. I shall keep this a spoiler-free review, but there’s undersea intrigue and espionage, and Shea and Kae get themselves involved—perhaps more deeply than either of them expected.

What I liked beyond the fun and exciting story (a great beach read!) and the well-developed characters was the attention to detail. The undersea society easily parallels a human society with royals and alliances and servants, and its population behaves enough like humans to follow what they’re doing but differently enough to make them otherworldly. The settings, both on and off land, are vividly described and easy to visualize. But it’s the little details, such as the explanation why mermaids (and Shea) have such great memories since they can’t write things down underwater! Clever details like that made me chuckle and kept me immersed in the story.

But more than those reasons, I really enjoyed that the main character was a boy instead of a girl. Even though I haven’t read many other YA mermaid stories yet, I would expect Son of a Mermaid will stand out as a different perspective to mermaid stories.

For well-developed characters and plot that really hook the reader, along with a well-realized world, I give Son of a Mermaid FIVE STARS. I look forward to reading the sequel.

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Son of a Mermaid: Descent is available at Amazon.

Read the spotlight of author Katie O’Sullivan HERE.


  1. Thanks for the positive and thoughtful review! So glad you enjoyed the story!

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