What is the Little Mermaid Syndrome?

*This post does not deal with the medical condition; it deals with the literary condition.


The Little Mermaid Syndrome is the desire to be part of another’s world.

A fictional character under the influence of LMS would go any length to become like the one they desire. This coveting is usually driven by love. In other cases the driving emotion is obsession.


The ripest situations for the LMS are in Fantasy and Paranormal genres where partners are more likely to be unmatched. By unmatched I mean a plain/weak human and a beautiful/strong supernatural being.

In these cases it is usually the human who wants become like their partner. Rarer is for the magical being to desire to be become human or have the means to become human. Plainly put it is a simple fact the LMS goes only one way.

Why is this?

I think it is all part of the escapism fantasy. We tire of the normal and are looking beyond our world for something better; be it vampires, werewolves, fairies, elves, or selkies. The idea behind this is that being connected to one of these more exotic beings or being one makes our world that much more exciting and ripe for adventure.

Human (normal) –> Vampire (supernatural)

Human (normal) –> Lycanthrope (supernatural)

Thumblina (normal, despite being supernaturally tiny) –> Fairy (supernatural)

The exception to the rule is the Little Mermaid.

Mermaid (supernatural) –> Human (normal)

This is because the human in this tale is clueless to the existence of the preternatural world. The mermaid must make herself known because their interaction would never happen otherwise as they do not exist in the same habitat. One lives on land and the other in water. It’s not like with vampires or werewolves which appear completely human and can intermingle in the same locations.

Witches and wizards are to my knowledge the only magical beings that could instill the LMS in their partner and do nothing about it. You’re either born with magic or you’re not. There’s no gray area.

Books featuring LMS:

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Review: To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt


It is just Hoyt’s terrible bad luck that I read the The Raven Prince for the very first time just two days before I got this book from the library. I know it’s in bad form to judge a book based on another book, but as both are by the same author, I figure this could be the exception to the rule. To Beguile a Beast read like a poor man’s version of the Raven Prince. There were so many similarities between the too, it was astonishing.

Some of the similarities include: the fairytale story at the beginning of each chapter, the conditions of the poor heroes, and the positions of the women in the hero’s life. They are all the same or at least very, very similar. Proof (spoilery):

TBAB = To Beguile a Beast
TRP = The Raven Prince


Truth Teller soldier fairytale in TBAB.
The raven prince fairytale in TRP.


Hero is scarred in TBAB: Missing eye, missing fingers, facial scars.
Hero is scarred in TRP: Pox marks all over face and body.
Both heroes are gruesome looking.

Hero in TBAB writes on flora and fauna of New England.
Hero in TRP writes on agriculture.


Heroine works as housekeeper in TBAB.
Heroine works as a secretary in TRP.

Similar Hero Character backgrounds:

Hero in TBAB lost his fiancé to fever.
Hero in TRP first wife died in child birth.

The only big difference that I saw was:

Heroine in TBAB has two children.
Heroine in TRP has no children.

I was bored with To Beguile a Beast. It may be because I read Raven Prince so soon before reading this book. I believe, however, that I would have disliked it even without reading Raven Prince. The magic in the tale simply wasn’t as enthralling as the Raven Prince. I closed Raven Prince feeling satisfied and happy. I struggled to make it through each chapter of To Beguile a Beast. I was glad to finish TBAB, simply so I could move on to another story. If you read it, do you feel the same way?

Rating: 1.5-2 Stars

Buy: To Beguile A Beast