Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Walking on Water
AUTHOR: Matthew J. Metzger
PUBLISHER: NineStar Press
LENGTH: 341 pages
RELEASE DATE: November 13, 2017
When a cloud falls to earth, Calla sets out to find what lies beyond the sky. Father says there’s nothing, but Calla knows better. Something killed that cloud; someone brought it down.
Raised on legends of fabled skymen, Calla never expected them to be real, much less save one from drowning—and lose her heart to him. Who are the men who walk on water? And how can such strange creatures be so beautiful?
Infatuated and intrigued, Calla rises out of her world in pursuit of a skyman who doesn’t even speak her language. Above the waves lies more than princes and politics. Above the sky awaits the discovery of who Calla was always meant to be. But what if it also means never going home again?
I’ll totally admit it, I didn’t even read the blurb of this book before I asked to review it. So it was a pleasant surprise when I started the story and realized that it was a retelling of The Little Mermaid tale with a trans twist. This year has already given me the wonderful Peter Darling by Austin Chant (and if you haven’t read that book, well after you finish this one you should scoot your ass to the nearest bookseller and pick it up) and to find yet another of my childhood favorites transformed into a story that connects to me on a level I never even hoped to have, was exciting.
If you’ve watched the Disney movie, or read the original story by Hans Christian Andersen, you know the bare-bones plot of this book. Mermaid feels out of place, has an encounter with a human prince, makes a trade with a witch to join him on land, and has to win his love or else face the consequences. But there is also so much more to it here.
I think one of Metzger’s strengths as a writer is being able to give his characters such life and personality from the first page. I never have to wait a chapter or two to buy into the story or the characters. They feel, almost instantly, like real people. Calla, the mermaid in this story, is very much another excellent example of that. There were always going to be things about Calla that I connected to, but even without the whole trans angle, Calla is incredibly relatable and believable. Even if Calla lives under the sea and has a tail, not legs. Calla’s story is not a new one for me, but it was written in such a way that I deeply cared from almost the get-go about this fictional character.
There are so many things I could say about this book, but reading this story was such a wonderful experience of finding new twists in the tale, that I kinda have no desire to ruin that for other readers. Some things change, some stay the same, but my god was it never dull or repetitive or expected. It was, in the simplest of terms, a joy to read.
The only reason this isn’t a five-star book for me is because there were some things in the end that didn’t quite tie up in a way that worked for me. Pretty small things, but still enough to knock a few points off the top. There were just some subplots that kinda just never got a payoff, and it left me feeling a little sad that I wouldn’t find out what happened with certain people. But really, we are talking about such minor details, that the rating is more a 4.75, than a 4.5. And they are not things that will keep me from happily rereading this story in the future.
I don’t know what to say other than this is an absolute must read. Especially for those of you who like twists on the stories and fairy tales we grew up on. Metzger breathes new life into a story many of us have read/seen/hear probably hundreds of times, and I can only hope that if the fancy strikes he takes a swing at some of the other tales out there (**cough**Mulan**cough**).