The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Seat by: Axie Oh
Published on: February 22, 2022
“After all, not all storytellers are grandmothers, but all grandmothers are storytellers”
An enchanting tale where a girl is whisked into the Spirit Realm. Once there she must find a way to awaken the Sea God in time for her to return to the Mortal Realm.
“Down into the darkness we sink, until the sea above me is the sky, and we – the dragon and I – are like falling stars.”
For generations, Mina’s homeland has been cursed with deadly storms brought about by the wrath of the Sea God. It is believed that only the true bride of the Sea God can calm the storms and so every year they sacrifice one maiden. This year, the girl who is being given to the sea is the one loved by Mina’s brother. But when the dragon emerges to take the girl away it is Mina who chooses to go instead.
Upon arrival into the Spirit Realm, Mina learns that the Sea God is not angry, but cursed. Although physically present, his mind is lost, as if hidden behind a veil. In his absence, it is Lord Shin who handles the affairs of the realm. One of which is to take Mina’s soul. He gives her 30 days to find her soul before she is permanently trapped in the Spirit Realm. While there, she also decides to use the time to find a way to free the Sea God from his curse and bring peace back to the Mortal Realm. However, in the Sea God’s absence, several groups have begun power struggles against Lord Shin increasing the danger for Mina and making her tasks more difficult.
Marketed for fans of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, I was intrigued. Secretly, I hoped for creatures such as the enchanted soot or No-Face. While sadly The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea, does not have these characters, it did immediately remind me of what Spirited Away was like when the realm in that movie comes to life. Going from a place that feels almost abandoned to one that is vibrant and full of market stands. Brightly-colored fish swim in the breeze, lanterns floating in the water.
The Red String of Fate also plays a part within the story. While the red string of fate mythology most often ties a person to their true love, in this story the mythology is left more open to interpretation with “destiny.” That is, until the story reveals itself more.
Overall, I found the story charming and magical. I loved spending time in the Spirit Realm and with all the little things that make it unique such as The Pond of Paper Boats and River of Souls. I did have a couple of issues that mostly relate to the development of the love match. 30 days is not that long to get to know someone and the main couple fell with each other in much less time than that. I also had trouble understanding the motivations behind the threats the main characters faced. But, because of the story was so enchanting I was able to put these aside as I read.
I also love this cover! There’s so much to look at and take in.
Thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Feiwel & Friends for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.