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: Enchanting the Beast by Kathryne Kennedy


This was an impulse buy. The cover was pretty (I only saw the front b/c this was an online purchase) and I was fairly certain the inside would give me a wounded/scarred/brooding hero because of the title. To my surprise it was a historical paranormal!

Nicodemus Wulfson is as you guessed it, a werewolf. His brother is being tormented by ghosts, something he emphatically does not believe. He decides the best way to help his brother is to go to London and obtain a person who claims to hold an affinity with ghosts and winds up with Philomena, a ghost-hunter/communicator with spirits.

The mystery behind the haunting was fairly predictable but contains several unique elements. I easily narrowed it down to the two major suspicious persons but was undecided as to which one it was until much later in the novel.

Philomena is a much older heroine than we are used to seeing in romance. She’s forty years old and a spinster, though she’s not unaware of what takes place behind closed doors due to the ghost of a prostitute named Fanny.

Nicodemus is twenty-seven and is determined to claim Philomena. Around her his wolf practically demands he get on with making her his in every way. At first he thinks it is just lust but quickly concludes that he wants more than an affair; he wants a wife and mate.

This book is quite possibly part of a series involving Merlin’s Relics but is well written enough to be a stand alone. Kennedy has marvelous world building skills. We are introduced to this alternate reality of the world where the aristocrat are descendants of Merlin and hold magical powers. The most powerful are royalty followed by the other noble ranks in order. It is the baronets that are lycanthropes or weres and they can be many animals from the more traditional werewolf to snakes, ducks, horses, etc.

Another element that I liked but wasn’t a major factor in the story was the idea of hedge witches (and wizards) who were the bastard children of the nobility. Even if they were claimed, most of them lack the power to be associated with rank.

Rating: 3 Stars

Buy: Enchanting the Beast