Waking the Merrow by Heather Rigney

Title: Waking the Merrow

Author: Heather Rigney

Rating: 4/5


In 1772, angry Rhode Island colonists set fire to a British ship, sparking the American Revolution. Taxation without representation was a motivator. So was the vengeful, man-eating mermaid who had it out for the commanding officer. That was then. This is now. Mermaids, or merrow, still hunt in Narragansett Bay, but these days they keep a lower profile. At night, centuries-old Nomia seduces smutty frat boys, lures them into icy waters, and feeds them to her voracious kin. By day, she and her half-breed daughter attempt to blend in at the coastal Village Playground. But Nomia slips up. She makes a friend. Then she makes that friend disappear, and someone notices. Thirty-something Evie McFagan just wants to make it through working motherhood. But she’s a blistering stew of issues—snarky alcoholic and a friendless funeral director who just witnessed Nomia dismembering a guy at the nearby yacht club. When Evie believes a mermaid stole her baby, who will help? The merrow of Ireland? Or maybe anti-hero Evie will surprise everyone, including herself, and summon the strength to save her own family. Intertwining the stories of two primordial families with the colonial history of Narragansett Bay, Waking the Merrow is a dark historical fantasy.


Waking the Merrow is a novel that breaks the mold of any genres that it claims to be.  It is a dark historical fantasy, but it is also a humorous horror novel.  Before reading Waking the Merrow, I had never seen mermaids presented in a darker light.  Apart from Harry Potter, mermaids have often been depicted as angelic creatures.  But after reading Waking the Merrow, I will never see mermaids the same way again.

Heather Rigney does a fantastic job of incorporating Rhode Island history along with fantasy elements, and I enjoyed learning about the Irish background of those who immigrated to Rhode Island.  Rigney incorporates that historical relevance with modern day inhabitants of Rhode Island and manages to create a version of the mermaid that you have never seen before.  The mermaids in her novel feed on the living, and it is exactly that which raises suspicions in the coastal village where the main character, Evie, lives.

But what is even better about Rigney’s work is that her main protagonist if more of an anti-heroine because she is a drunk mother who is crass and unapologetic, and that is something that I always love to see in a character.  Evie is my new spirit animal, so to speak, and I loved her witty humor and banter with her husband throughout the novel.  Rigney mixes humor with horror perfectly, and I think that readers who don’t enjoy horror would indeed enjoy this novel.  Waking the Merrow breaks the current mold of the dark fantasy and horror genres, and it is a breath of fresh air because it does not fit in with other current trends in the market.  I am always on the lookout for novels that stray from the pack and are written just for the joy of it, rather than to just make a buch, and Waking the Merrow more than delivers.  If you haven’t already picked up this novel, then please drop what you are doing and buy it right now.


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