the girl who fell beneath the sea

reviewed by: amy sinam

“The Girl Who Fell Beneath the ocean” is about a feminist retelling of the Korean folk story “The Tale of Shim Cheong.” Axie Oh’s story doesn’t imitate Shim Cheong but rather Mina, a girl from a Korean village that’s wrecked by storms and death. The people of the village believed that the Sea God is angry and only his true bride can cease his wrath. That’s why, a young girl is always sacrificed to the sea.

The novel unbolts with Shim Cheong chosen as the time’s immolation but Mina, knowing her family loves Shim Cheong, throws herself into the sea rather. Mina is alive and she plunges into the Spirit Realm. When she wakes up, to her hand was tied the mystical Red String of Fate. It’s a ribbon that is believed to tie a person to his or her fortune. Mina’s ribbon led her to the Sea God, who turns out to be a boy-god under an enchanted sleep but not a cruel deity.

Afore Mina can wake him, three mysterious numbers cut the Red String of Fate and steal Mina’s voice. Mina has to figure out how to get her voice back, wake the Sea God over and save her people in any way possible. Lest she can accomplish these tasks in 30 days, she ’ll die and transfigure into a spirit herself. What hooked me right down in “The Girl Who Fell Beneath the ocean” was its rich world. The writer, Axie Oh, describes the Sea God’s city vividly and poignantly, with its “hundreds, thousands of people dressed in vibrant jewel- tone colours, as if the city were a great reef and the people its coral”; the “maze of structures” also spreads out before Mina “like a painter’s oil painting oil painting oil painting oil”; the brightly coloured fish “swim along the breath, as if the sky were an ocean”; the gold light shines from lanterns “like sails of ships caught on fire.”

Upon glancing the Sea God’s city, Mina thinks, “I’ve never seen anything more beautiful. I’ve never seen anything more terrifying.”  I had the analogous study while reading the novel. On every flip of page, I something stupendous and dewy, and I was eager to keep reading because I wanted to further traverse this astonishing imaginative world. Also, there’s Mina herself, a character who’s smart, rebellious, assertive and, basically, she and her people have been through, she’s mad. Why do girls have to sacrifice themselves? Humans give up so much to honor the gods, and for what? “The gods have chosen not to grant our wishes,” she thinks. When she finally sees the Sea God, it’s not love that Mina feels. “It’s darker, hotter and infinitely stronger. I detest him.”

To be honest, the cover of this book is too enough and really the reason why it caught my attention. I really loved the worldbuilding also, it’s fascinating and it made me more curious about Korean tradition. The odds are piled against Mina, but she never loses sight of the fact that she controls her own fortune. “My fate isn’t yours to decide,” she announces when someone tells her she’ll fail. “My fate belongs to me.” For readers who may pick up this book during a time when everyday life feels inviting, that’s an important message.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is a story exploring the meaning of fate and the power of love to overcome all. Indeed, as she’s pressed on all sides by forces that try to bend her to their will, Mina persists in following her heart and holding on to hope. Her story is a guiding light in the storm and a perfect read for times of trouble. The ending also made sense to me and I found the story to be truly satisfying.


Amy is a passionate bookworm, a devoted dog lover, and an avid nature enthusiast. From a young age, she has always found solace and inspiration within the pages of books. The power of storytelling has captivated her imagination, taking her on countless adventures and introducing her to fascinating characters.

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