The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea ARC review: A beautiful story about fate and love

Don’t you just love it when the contents of a book are as stunning as it’s cover?

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea was exactly this. I’m still in awe of how much this book managed to do in less than 400 pages. With well-written characters and gorgeous prose, this alternative perspective on a Korean myth definitely served.

Today, I’m super excited to share my thoughts on this promising YA fantasy and hopefully convince you all to read it, or at the very least, add it to your TBR!

[I also have a playlist for The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea which you can find here!]

The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea
⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…

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Click for Content Warnings and Representation

TWs: Death, grief

Representation: Korean-coded characters

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not impact my thoughts in any way.

All the quotes used in this post are from an advance reader copy and may differ in the final publication.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea follows Mina, who grew up listening to the tales of the Sea God and the countless women who have been offered to him as brides in order to appease his wrath and the annual storms that he sends. This year, Mina sacrificed herself instead of Shim Cheong, who was believed to be the Sea God’s true bride due to her incomparable beauty, in order to let her beloved brother Joon live a happy life with his only love.

What Mina doesn’t know is that her small sacrifice will soon turn into a riveting adventure, one where she’ll have to wake up the Sea God himself and face the gods while unravelling mysteries that have been long buried under the majestic ocean.

My grandmother always says to pay attention to stories, for there are often truths hidden within.”

Mina was a perfect protagonist to follow; she’s brave yet sympathetic and never fails to learn and grow from the smallest of things. Though everyone might think that she’s a typical YA protagonist who sacrificed herself to save the world, she’s much more than that. She truly cares about the people she loves and is willing to go to great lengths for them—even if it’s dangerous for her. 

I really liked how compassionate she was towards her mission. No matter how difficult things got, Mina never let them stop her from doing her best to break the Sea God’s curse and free him from his loneliness and despair.

“That’s just like a human to think the world revolves around you, to think the rivers are for you, the sky, the sea is for you. You are just one of many parts of the world, and in my opinion, the one that blights them all.”

When an author writes about relationships–whether they may be romantic or platonic, with several dynamics, it always adds a touch of reality to the story, as relationships can’t always be idealistic. Axie Oh managed to create immaculate bonds between all the characters in this book, my personal favourite being Mina, finding people with whom she can resonate in a scary and unfamiliar place.

I really liked how the concept of the red string of fate was incorporated into Mina and Shin’s romance. Though I feel that their romance progressed a bit too fast, it was very genuine and enjoyable nonetheless!

“Which destiny belongs to me? Which destiny will I grasp on to with both hands and never, never let go?”

Axie Oh’s prose is very magical and flowy. It will instantly transport you into the vivid and gorgeous world that she has created. With descriptions being spot-on and easily digestible, you’ll find yourself longing for more and more.

This story is also a reimagining of the Korean legend of Shim Cheong. Even though the book retells this myth from a different perspective, it is flawlessly able to capture the vibes of the original tale whilst also creating an assortment of original storylines.

Overall, The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is a tale of love, courage, and fate woven together with the perfect thread. With a strong female protagonist and extremely lush descriptions, it is sure to draw you in for a fast, action-packed adventure into the sea realm.

“Don’t chase fate, Mina. Let fate chase you.”

About the author

Axie Oh is a first generation Korean American, born in NYC and raised in New Jersey. She studied Korean history and creative writing as an undergrad at the University of California – San Diego and holds an MFA from Lesley University in Writing for Young People. Her passions include K-pop, anime, stationery supplies, and milk tea. She currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with her puppy, Toro.

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Have you read The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea? What are your thoughts on it? Is it on your TBR? Let’s talk in the comments!

7 thoughts on “The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea ARC review: A beautiful story about fate and love

  1. Excited about this book and it’s currently in my TBR and ready to be read. The covers of both US and UK are stunning, though I’m more biased to the US one (shocking!) . If only I can finish my other books faster. Thank you for this insightful review!

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