a Fish out Of Water by Karin KallmakerA Fish Out Of Water by Karin Kallmaker is a novella retelling The Little Mermaid, with a lesbian twist. This time Ariel is the party girl of the ocean. As the 77th daughter of the Mer Queen she is not important enough to do anything serious with her life and so she is a socialite who uses her magic to hold parties and please her friends.

Life is rather boring when you live for hundreds of years, though, and so mermaids like to go on land to hunt for pleasure with the women who reside there. When a mermaid has sex with a woman, then the women will dream about the mermaid for the rest of her life and the mermaid will hear her dreams as a song. Getting these songs is merely a game for some and a pleasure for others.

There is one catch—if a mermaid gets together with a lesbian then the lesbian will pine for the mermaid and die a slow, terrible death. So lesbians are forbidden. That doesn’t stop the mermaids from going after bisexual or curious women.

With a plan concocted by her friend that cannot possibly go wrong, Ariel is lured to a human party where there are lesbians, bisexual and curious women. The non lesbians wear a rose to signal that they just want a single night of fun.

At the party Ariel meets Erica, a gorgeous woman who is wearing a rose. There is an immediate attraction and they can’t keep their hands off each other. Too late Ariel realizes that she made a huge mistake. One that will kill Erica and cause Ariel a pain she doesn’t think she can survive.

This is an erotic, tortured tale of passion, craving and regret.

The Characters

Sheena: Erica was a gorgeous mix of pain and longing. I adored her character and think Kallmaker managed to capture the complex set of feeling so perfectly.

Tara: I would love to see this story from Erica’s perspective, because what we see of her through Ariel is fascinating. She was already going through some major changes before they met, and she goes through so much more as we see her battle between desire and gallantry.

Sheena: Ariel had a beautiful character arc as she went from party girl with a secret to entirely alone to finding her inner strength. I also loved how Kallmaker envisioned what it would be like to be a mermaid.

Tara: I totally agree about Ariel. She’s a completely different character at the end of the book, and goes through hell and back to get to her happy ending.

All of the side characters were mermaids, and one in particular is worth noting. Laveena is one of the most hateable characters I’ve ever come across and I hope she dies in a fire (yes, under the sea).

The Writing Style

Sheena: I will let Kallmaker’s own words illustrate her writing prowess: Erica’s chemistry mingled with her own to create a heady mixture that Ariel could feel soaking into her skin, her blood.

Tara: Seriously, I just want to bow to the greatness that is Karin Kallmaker. Every book I’ve read by her has been fabulous, but this book is extra special. It balances the erotic with the romantic, and is angsty enough to suck the reader in without making it feel like someone is punching you in the stomach.

The Pros

Sheena: I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t put it down. It even haunted my dreams and I woke in the middle of the night to just keep reading it.

I think Kallmaker put her own kind of spell on me.

Tara: Everything. Every. Damn. Thing.

The Cons

Sheena: Make some time to just read it and don’t start at night or you won’t get any sleep.

Tara: Not a thing. This book is a treasure.

The Conclusion

taras favourite lesbian bookssheena's favouriteSheena: This book will torture you. It will sing a siren song to keep you reading and you won’t be able to put it down.

The story is filled with intense yearning and agony and you will feel all of those things as Kallmaker pulls you into the world that she creates with her perfectly chosen words.

“Maybe if she threw herself hard at the very thing that would destroy her she would find a way to go on, to save herself.”

Tara: I loved A Fish Out of Water and cannot recommend it enough. This is my favourite adaptation of The Little Mermaid, and might just be my favourite book by Kallmaker.

Sheena’s Excerpt from A Fish Out Of Water by Karin Kallmaker

She schooled her expression, though she thought she had always kept her secret. Only Caliba might suspect. A night in a human woman’s arms meant far more to Ariel than just the song for the rest of the woman’s life. Laveena had been dangerously close to the truth. Yes, it had been a long time since Ariel had indulged, but no mer had ever come close to making her feel the way a human woman could. Even without a real voice, or magic or the features mer considered attractive, human women possessed something else that Ariel hungered for, something she could not quite define.

Tara’s Excerpt from A Fish Out Of Water by Karin Kallmaker

Trembling, Ariel lifted her face for a kiss.

Erica studied Ariel’s face. “Let’s wait a minute for that.”

Ariel arched an eyebrow, and then heard the rising chant.

Twenty-nine, twenty-eight…

Amused and aroused by Erica’s restraint, Ariel nipped the line of Erica’s jaw with her teeth. “I can wait, but I’m not patient.”

Seventeen, sixteen…

The sound Erica made was nearly a growl. “You want to be kissed early?”

“Early and often.”

“What about made love to?”

“At least once a night.” Ariel nibbled the other side of Erica’s jaw. Erica thrust her thigh upward and Ariel was lifted to the tips of her toes. She made a noise of pure need that the queen’s blood ought not, but she didn’t care. It had been too long and she was now too close. Erica was intoxicating, wonderfully so.

“Just once a night?”

Five, four, three…

Ariel groaned out, “The rest of the night I like to fuck.”

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Note: I received a free review copy of Fish Out Of Water by Karin Kallmaker. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.

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About the author

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Sheena is the founder of The Lesbian Review.

She discovered lesbian fiction when she was 19. Radclyffe and Karin Kallmaker soon became favourite authors and she spent a large part of her hard earned income on shipping books from Amazon.com to her home in South Africa.

Over the years she became frustrated with purchasing mediocre lesbian fiction feeling like it was a waste of her money and time. And so she decided to share only the best books and movies with lesbians who are looking for only the best. And so, The Lesbian Review was born

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Tara Scott lives in Calgary, Canada with her family. If you don't find her with her Kindle in her hand, she's probably busy talking about what she's currently reading.