*This is a SPOILER FREE review!
I met Elizabeth Amy Hajek in Virginia at the 2008 Fairy Tale Novel Gathering, a weekend for fans of Regina Doman’s Fairy Tale Novels to meet her and meet one another. It was one of those experiences where you are introduced again to the magic that always exists just under the surface of reality. And Elizabeth’s debut novel does the same.
I was given the awesome opportunity to read the Advanced Digital Copy of The Mermaid and the Unicorn and despite the constant movement that has flooded each day leading up to our move, I could not put it down.
Here is the official synopsis (complements of GeekHaus Press):
Daphne Woodhouse jumps at the chance to join her college’s study abroad program at a Parisian convent. Although thrilled to immerse herself in French Art and History, she soon finds herself drawn into a hidden world of myths and legends come to life. There’s a mysterious nun guarding the convent’s secret garden, a glamorous nightclub owner soliciting Daphne’s musical skills, something sinister stalking her in the shadows… and of course, the handsome and chivalrous Derek Moon, who is determined to win Daphne’s heart. When the fate of a magical species is laid in Daphne’s hands, she must make a choice that will change her future forever.
As someone who spent several months studying abroad in an old Karthusian Monastary in Austria, this novel echoed my experience of living, working, praying, and exploring in the home of the Sacred.
Although she is not Catholic, Elizabeth accurately depicts the community, conversations, and characters found at a small Catholic college, which as a graduate of a small Catholic college made me feel right at home. I enjoyed getting to know Daphne over the course of the book and I found her thoughts and feelings toward her friends and the handsome Derek very relatable. The author’s descriptions of major French sites and life at a small convent create photograph-like images in my mind and in many ways, when I finished reading the book, I felt that I had just spent a semester wandering the life-filled Parisian streets.
I particularly enjoyed the coexistence of Catholicism and the magical in The Mermaid and the Unicorn. Fantastical creatures, the history and the tradition of the Catholic faith, and real life struggles of failing French, being away from home, and discernment beautifully blended in this novel. I found myself often being reminded of Narnia (even though the story never leaves the real realm of Paris), because the story reminded me that Beauty lives and breathes in ways that I might not even imagine and reawakens wonder at each turn.
I thought the story overall was well-written and creative. Although I found myself guessing at one of the major twists, even it its revelation I found myself drawn further into the story.
This book was an enjoyable encounter with a new cast of interesting characters, as well as with both myth and Truth. I await the next book of “The Song of the Fay” series with joyful anticipation because I am sure it will
The Mermaid and the Unicorn is out TODAY! The book is available in both Paperback and Kindle and you can buy your copy HERE!!