What if Ariel had never defeated Ursula?
I LOVE the twisted tales’ series of books but so far, I think Part of Your World may be my favourite. Therefore, it only seemed right that it was my first review.
Part of Your World is based five years after Ursula defeats Ariel, yes you heard me right! The whole miraculous, shiny magic being released from the shell, the little mermaid regaining her voice, the whole harpoon, giant octopus, child scarring scene…never happened!
In this twisted tale Ursula succeeded in tricking Eric into marrying Vanessa; she now rules the Kingdom, with Eric remaining under Ursula’s spell and pretty much clueless to his wife’s evil tendencies. Conversely Ariel is Queen of the Sea, ruling Atlantica in her father’s absence. Oh yeah! Spoiler! Ursula still has Triton in her slimy grasp as well.
NB: Just for clarification this isn’t really a spoiler as you find this out on page 20- please don’t send in complaints.
The book includes all of your favourite characters from the classic 1989 movie: Scuttle, Sebastian, Flounder and even Grimsby and Carlotta! Liz Braswell does such a good job in rejuvenating these characters and reminding us why we loved them in the first place. There wasn’t enough Flounder for my liking but a lot of the story takes place above ground so I can’t really complain- maybe he needs his own tale?
The star of the book has to be Ariel though, she is the Little Mermaid after all…or is she? Braswell’s character is much more mature and tougher than the Little Mermaid we remember. After living as a mute Queen for 5 years Ariel has lost the naïve, childish part of her personality and has become a ruler consumed by guilt and melancholy. Nevertheless, this withdrawal into herself has not dampened her courage and when she learns King Triton may still be alive, she immediately begins her quest to save her father. I’m also relieved to say that I got a very sassy and sarcastic vibe from Ariel at points in the book- a woman after my own heart!
Eric too is not the suave, smouldering-before-it-was-cool character he was back in the day. Instead, overpowered by Ursula’s magic, he is distant and confused: still loved by his people but now labelled as “mad”. He loses himself in music, with his latest opera telling a familiar tale that the reader will surely recognise. Can he regain his memory in time to rescue his kingdom from his wife? Will he and Ariel meet again? Can the new Queen of the Sea rescue Triton or is Ursula just too powerful now?
The original characters of The Little Mermaid are welcomed with open arms into this story and, despite the notable differences in our two protagonists, the remaining characters are comforting and familiar. Braswell also takes the opportunity to introduce us to new characters: Jona the gull, provides quite a modern outlook for a “Disney” character, questioning the world around her with a critical eye. Even background characters such as an hilarious old apple vendor and Vareet, a mute servant girl (whom I was sure was going to have a bigger role than she did) do not fade into the pages. Quite the opposite, thanks to the book’s detail, humour and intrigue, these characters will stay with us for just as long as the story itself.
In summary, Liz Braswell’s novel draws us in hook, line and sinker. Part of Your World is impossible to put down. You will find yourself disparaging Ariel’s former lovestruck personality along with her, experiencing the tension and danger associated with Flotsam and Jetsam and exploring Eric’s kingdom through Braswell’s detailed storytelling.
There’s probably a google-defined order to read the twisted tales in but frankly I don’t care. Try this one first- you won’t regret it!