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The Mermaid & Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar – Book Review

37678008Goodreads blurb: This voyage is special. It will change everything…

One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.

As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on… and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This chance meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, a journey on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost…

What will be the cost of their ambitions? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess?

In this spell-binding story of curiosity and obsession, Imogen Hermes Gowar has created an unforgettable jewel of a novel, filled to the brim with intelligence, heart and wit.

“For mermaids are the most unnatural of creatures and their hearts are empty of love.” -The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

When it comes to first impressions, this book takes the cake. At first glance, you have a gorgeous cover, (possibly my favorite of 2018) a thick spine (496 pages!) and the word “mermaid”. For someone easily distracted by pretty things, I was sold on this book before I even picked it up. I won’t spoil any of the details, as I didn’t read many reviews and I think it enhanced my experience.

There is no way I can do this piece of art justice in my review. I know it probably won’t be for everyone but I was literally obsessed with it. Completely riveted and just consumed with the overall story and the plethora of characters.


Mermaid is an immersive and astonishing experience. The language takes a few pages to get used to and you might have to google a few things (sheep guts, ribbons..don’t go there) but I find that it adds even more to the overall story.  The prose is absolutely beautiful-it just FLOWS. The author creates a list of characters that go through one transformation after another, enrapturing the reader and capturing your emotions. Anytime an author invokes anger or sadness or any strong emotion in a reader, you know that’s a job well done.

For basically the entire book, I had zero ideas what was going to happen next. My first ideas were so off base, looking back it’s laughable. Though the book is long, I never felt bored or overwhelmed. Quite the opposite, I stayed on my toes and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to stay entertained as long as I did, but Gowar has done just that. This book is absolutely nothing like I thought it would be. This is no Disney fairytale. It is a story of desire and obsession; the depths humans will go to attain them and the emptiness that can come from it.


Get your copy of The Mermaid & Mrs. Hancock here!

A GINORMOUS thank you to Harper Books for sending a free review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reading,




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