Underwater Fantasy Books

Although I’m a terrible swimmer myself, I’ve always loved the ocean, so it’s no surprise I’m fascinated by underwater fantasy books. Mermaids, sirens, selkies – if it’s a fantasy book that takes place underwater, I’ll give it a try. I’ve even written my own underwater fantasy series.

I’ve put together a list of 20 underwater fantasy books. Some I’ve read, some I haven’t (yet). I’m always looking for more reading suggestions, so please let me know any other amazing underwater fantasy books that you think I should add! And if you’ve already read some of these, what did you think of them? Do they deserve a place on this list?

1 – Ink by Melanie Karsak

I’ve loved all of Melanie Karsak’s books so far and this magical mermaid novella was no exception! A mermaid princess in Florida is married off to the king of the Gulf mermaids, only to find that there’s a much bigger political game afoot. I thought this was a fun modern twist on mermaid stories. Plus it had an alligator shifter, which I’ve never come across before! Buy on Amazon

2 – Everblue

I have this one loaded on my Kindle and ready to read! It sounds like a fun teenage romance with a mermaid-y twist. And it has some good reviews on Amazon! Have you read this one? Buy on Amazon

3 – Sink, M.E. Rhines

I downloaded this book largely because it has such a beautiful cover! And because the series title (Mermaid Royalty) sounded slightly similar to my Selkie Kingdom series. It turned out to be pretty different to my own writing, but I still really enjoyed it! Fun characters, a fast pace, and a visit to Atlantis – what’s not to like? Buy on Amazon

4 – The Siren, Kiera Cass

Kiera Cass’s The Selection series was a huge hit – but did you know she also wrote a book inspired by The Little Mermaid? This one has been on my TBR list for ages. Maybe this summer I’ll finally sit down and read it! The premise – a nearly-drowned girl becomes a deadly siren – sounds fascinating. Buy on Amazon

5 – To Kill A Kingdom, Alexandra Christo

This one has been big news in the YA world recently, so you’ve probably already heard of it! I’ve only read the first chapter so far, but the rest already has a guaranteed place on my (very crowded) reading list. It seems dark and dramatic and beautifully written. I’m very excited to read the rest! Buy on Amazon

6 – Into the Drowning Deep

We already know that underwater settings can be terrifying in movies. So why not in books? Mermaid horror sounds amazing to me. Have you read this book, or any other underwater fantasy books with a horror twist? Buy on Amazon

7 – Breakwater, Catherine Jones Payne

The description promises mermaids, murder, and mayhem. I don’t know about you, but I’m sold! Apparently, this entire book takes place underwater, which I really love the sound of. So many mermaid books don’t make enough of the amazing worldbuilding possibilities! Buy on Amazon

8 – The Mermaid Trials, Cameron Drake

Like The Hunger Games… but with mermaids? I stumbled across this book for the first time while researching this list. It sounds dramatic and exciting, with a fun new twist on mermaid legends. Another one for the reading list (which is getting ridiculously long). Buy on Amazon

9 – The Syrenka Series, Amber Garr

The first book in this series, Promises, seems to have been a big hit in the mermaid book world! If that’s even a thing. Anyway, a three book box set with bonus short stories sounds like a pretty good buy to me, especially with merfolk, selkies, and water sprites. Buy on Amazon

10 – Ingo, Helen Dunmore

Yet another one I haven’t read but plan to. Writing this post has done terrible things for my reading list! This book sounds like a charming YA fantasy with a wonderful underwater fantasy world. The whole series sounds worth reading! Buy on Amazon

11 – The Little Mermaid, Hans Christian Andersen

There’s no beating the original! This beautiful short story is not quite like the version you may remember from Disney – it’s haunting and tragic but still lovely. I read it as part of a Hans Christian Andersen collection, but this illustrated edition looks beautiful. Buy on Amazon

12 – The Wild and Lonely Sea, Isobel Robertson


I’m going to sneak in one of my own books here. I’ve always been fascinated by stories of the sea, from selkies to Atlantis to the Little Mermaid, and I decided to combine them all here. This is Book 1 in the Selkie Kingdom series, with even more underwater adventures coming up in Book 2 (Kingdom of the Sea). Buy on Amazon

(There’s also a Selkie Kingdom introductory story available for free!)

13 – The Surface Breaks, Louise O’Neill

The cover of this really caught my eye – isn’t it beautiful? And a feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid sounds wonderful! If you’ve read this book already, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Buy on Amazon

14 – Of Poseidon, Anna Banks

This is another YA merfolk series that seems to have been a big hit. Once again, I haven’t read it but plan to – it sounds like fun! Buy on Amazon

15 – Deep Blue, Jennifer Donnelley

This sounds like a fascinating story – and what a beautiful cover! I love books that are basically high fantasy but set underwater. It makes such a change from all the Middle-Earth-inspired fantasy worlds that are out there. High drama and mermaid politics sounds like exactly my kind of thing. Buy on Amazon

16 – Lost Voices, Sarah Porter

Mermaids in Alaska! With a dark twist! I love how underwater fantasy has been used to tell all kinds of stories. This one sounds like a dark YA fantasy with some very gritty elements, which fascinates me as a combination. Buy on Amazon

17 – Monstrous Beauty, Elizabeth Fama

Mermaids and ghosts? Two different timelines? I really want to read this! (I can’t say for sure if this counts as underwater fantasy – correct me if it doesn’t belong on this list!) Buy on Amazon

18 – Lies Beneath, Anne Greenwood Brown

Killer mermaids! This is another book I haven’t yet read but hope to. It sounds dark and spooky, which is a wonderul way to use merfolk legends. Buy on Amazon

19 – The Vicious Deep

I’m actually in the middle of this right now! I literally put it aside to sit down and write this post. So far, it’s dramatic and eventful, with a good mystery. More to come when I actually finish it. Buy on Amazon

20 – Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits, Robin Mckinley and Peter Dickinson

This book of short stories is an old favourite of mine. Not all of the stories are set underwater as such, but each one is somehow linked to water. With a lovely folklore-inspired tale, this is a book I keep recommending to people. Buy on Amazon

What are your favourite underwater fantasy books?

What have I missed or got wrong? I’d love to extend this post with a few bonus books, so please leave your suggestions in the comments below!

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