Review: Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall

Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: NetGalley
Publication Date: September 22nd 2014
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, M/M romance, Short Story.


Once upon a time . . . that’s how the old stories always begin.

Once upon a time there was a king of a fallen kingdom. He was just and he was beloved. Or so the numbers said. One day, he gathered together the greatest, wisest minds in all the land—not sorcerers, but scientists—and he bade them fashion him a son. A prince. A perfect prince to embody his father’s legacy.

The scientists each brought the prince a gift: beauty, strength, ambition, intellect, pride. But they must have forgotten something because when he saw the mermaids dance at the Cirque de la Mer, he ran away to join them.

For a year, he trained them, performed with them, thought he was happy. For a year he thought he was free. But then Nerites came: A merman who refused to be tamed. A captive from another kingdom. A beast in a glass cage.

The old stories always end with happy ever after. But this isn’t one of the old stories. This is a story of princes and monsters.


A merman and a human boy. Two lonely souls. One love story.

They encounter one another at the Cirque de la Mer, and the Prince is mystically drawn to the Mer. He becomes his obsession but perhaps also his salvation?

It was such a short story. I wanted more – needed more. It was well executed and an original story, but it lacked at multiple places. And I’m saying this because I have read short stories with a relatively good and detailed world-building, context or secondary characters. In this though, we barely know anything about the settings, we have no idea who this Prince really is and if the King actually exists. I also doubted by moments if the Prince really was made by scientists or if it was all some sort of metaphor. And, well, there are barely any secondary characters and, if there are, it doesn’t feel like the author wants us to focus on them.

The Mer and the Prince’s love story is very cute and endearing, but there is almost no romance at all! Still, witnessing the way they meet, get to know one another and develop something deeply beautiful was what won me over at the end. I will surely read this again sometime, if only to feel the swoon-worthy moments for a second time. It’s in reality the first time I ever read about two characters falling in love without even talking to each other. It’s like they were reading one another’s mind. Or destined to be together.

The Prince is an absolutely easy character to like and maybe even relate to, if we ignore the fact that he has been created by scientists. The Mer though is more mysterious and we don’t know much about him – if we even know something. I think it would have been interesting to read his point of view. The story would have been clearer and the ending would have surely not bothered me that much. Because it is vague and doesn’t assure us, readers, that everything will be alright for our dear couple. And those endings are the worst, for me. And HFN ending will await you.

The writing was superb, so no problem there. The pacing perfect and well fitting. There was also a detectable calm atmosphere. I would have liked for it to be more intense though, since it could have given so much more importance to everything happening, but it was pleasant nonetheless.

I would recommend it enough! It is short, thirty-nine pages long, so it can definitely be read in a single sitting and enjoyed mainly for the precious love story. I never read an M/M romance with mermen before or any kind of similar creature, but it was a good first book in that category.

6 thoughts on “Review: Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall

  1. It’s intriguing I confess. I haven’t read a lot of merman book so that’s why I would want to discover it. Maybe one day if I comme accross it. thanks for introducing it to me.


  2. Oh this one has a great cover imo! Makes me intrigued. Yeah, with short stories it’s the problem: they’re just so short it’s hard to make a decent connection or feel on top of the world after you’ve read it. I’m glad you like Mer and Prince’s dynamics though! Perhaps the author will someday write the story from Mer’s POV? Maybe? I’m glad you liked it as a whole though sorry it wasn’t as magical as you hoped it would be. Great review, Lola!


  3. I love that quote! I have a weakness for he’s supposed to be evil, but he’s not romances. (or she) Sounds like this was good, but it needed to be longer to explain things better. They fell in love and couldn’t talk? That is a new one.


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