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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Maia and the Mermaid Princess by Kate S Richards

Updated: Mar 14

Princess Henrietta, a beautiful mermaid, loves collecting pets, but when she takes in a knobbly-kneed creature, she doesn’t realise what it could cost him.

On land, Maia is excited to spend her holidays with her marine biologist father, where she discovers her ability to communicate with dolphins. It comes with a responsibility she never imagined. As she tries to understand her gift, her best friend, Jude-the-sleuth, investigates a boy's suspected drowning, trying to uncover an elusive truth. With time running out, Maia must make a courageous choice, or someone will be in grave danger.

Author Kate S Richards takes readers on an enchanting journey filled with magic and mischief. Told from two perspectives - Maia's and "pet's" - the story did take a little while to settle into a rhythm. However, once you begin to understand both characters and different viewpoints, the story sweeps you up. 

Richards weaves together fantasy and the classic coming-of-age themes, through relatable characters, vibrant settings and descriptive language.

However, at times, Richards' writing feels like she's giving readers too much—with in-depth descriptions of things that don't add much to the story, like Dad's beard. While the language is beautiful, feeding the reader that much description felt overcooked. On the other hand, the 'main event' felt a little anticlimactic, wrapped up and over far too soon. 

Entwined with Maia's journey as a tween, Richards includes the themes of friendship, courage, and risk-taking while also offering a conversation about marine conservation, overfishing, and environmental guardianship. The story would make a nice read-aloud for a senior primary classroom alongside an ocean-based unit.

Maia and the Mermaid Princess is a magical read, and a great introduction for readers ready to dive into the fantasy genre.


Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Green Room House


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