Welcome to the book tour for Head Over Tails!
Here's the blurb before we jump into my review:
Their love is true...but is it real?
Fear of inheriting his father’s hallucinations and memory loss have brought Jacob’s life to a screeching halt at age nineteen. Now he spends his days alone on the beach behind his home, staring into the endless Hawaiian waves.
Mermaid Sevencea is eager to explore life above the water--and cheer up the handsome, lonely young man strolling on the shores. Forming a bond with him is as natural as swimming. All she needs are legs to walk beside him, so Sevencea disappears to trade for the necessary magic.
Yet when she returns, Jacob is gone, convinced she was a hallucination after all. And the more Sevencea searches for him, the more she doubts what they have will last.
Can love truly exist between land and sea?
A sweet YA mermaid-meets-human romance set within the lovely vistas of Hawaii.
Head Over Tails by Brianna Tibbetts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So many fantasy books these days are high-stakes epics with people trying to save the world--or at least save their kingdom or reclaim their throne--that Head Over Tails threw me a little. (Also, I should read blurbs more carefully, I was just excited about mermaids and magic). While it runs in the vein of retelling Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid, with a little tinge of the Disney version, this one is really a low-stakes sweet romance between a mermaid and a human.
There is no kingdom to be saved, there is no prince who needs a wife; just nineteen-year-old Jacob struggling to find his place in the world in the aftermath of his father's diagnosis that splits his world--and family--apart. And as much as Sevencea gives off Ariel vibes, she's not a princess whose forbidden romance will cause the fall of her father's kingdom; all she wants is (mostly) to not let the cute guy she's (maybe) falling in love with think she's only a hallucination.
Despite it being a romance, Head Over Tails is very much about family. The choices both Jacob and Sevencea make are heavily impacted by their families--whether it's Jacob's fear that he's inherited his father's illness, or it's Sevencea looking for her father's wisdom and advice. I love found family stories (there's a bit of that going on at The Makai), where the displaced and disenchanted build a new family from the wreckage, but this also feels necessary: a reminder that natural families are also important. And while most families are messy and sometimes they break apart, they can still be what you need when everyone pulls together, when each family member decides to work towards reconciliation instead of giving up.
Overall, Head Over Tails is quiet, slow, and sweet. There are no unexpected twists or crafty, intricate plotting. It's a comfort read for when you're reaching for soothing and familiar, when you crave the simplicity of youth falling in love, and that quiet hope of a happily ever after.
Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Uncommon Universes Press as part of the book launch tour. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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