Review: THE PISCES by Melissa Broder

Janelle Advance Copy, Book Reviews, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Crown Publishing Group, Fantasy, From Publisher, Hogarth Press, Magical Realism, Publisher Book Ambassador Leave a Comment

Thank you so much to Crown Publishing and Hogarth Press for providing my free copy – all opinions are my own.


Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend break up in a dramatic flameout. After she bottoms out in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety — not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection. Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn. A masterful blend of vivid realism and giddy fantasy, pairing hilarious frankness with pulse-racing eroticism, THE PISCES is a story about falling in obsessive love with a merman: a figure of Sirenic fantasy whose very existence pushes Lucy to question everything she thought she knew about love, lust, and meaning in the one life we have.

My Review: 

This is a very unique book, unlike any other I’ve ever read. I can’t even say who I’d recommend this book to, but I can say that I loved it. It is part fantasy, but mostly it feels like a portrayal of a person who suffers through depression, loss, and a strong desire to feel needed and loved. Lucy’s life is crumbling down around her. She’s been writing her doctoral dissertation on Sappho for nine years and has completely lost interest. She breaks up with her longtime boyfriend and things really start to spiral out of control. Her older sister offers for her to come and house sit in Venice Beach while she unwinds and goes to therapy. Her main job is to watch her beloved dog, Dominic and work on her mental health. One night she meets Theo, a mysterious man on the beach, but what is Theo hiding? Well, he’s a merman.

Look, this story sounds outrageous, strange, and intriguing and it certainly is all three, but it is also insightful, provocative, and genius. Broder is a very talented storyteller with her poetic prose laced with dark humor. This is not a love story per se but a complex window into the life and mind of Lucy. I mean, there’s love…and sex with a merman, but I don’t feel that is the ultimate takeaway from reading this book. Weeks went by before I gathered my thoughts on this one, but ultimately I thought it was brilliant. Maybe it’s the measure of how talented Broder is because I have no idea how she made this novel work, but it did for me. I was glued to these pages right up until the very end and will be thinking about it a long time to come.

My rating is 5 out of 5 stars!

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