Review: “Sand and Ruin and Gold” by Alexis Hall

  • Title: Sand and Ruin and Gold
  • Author: Alexis Hall
  • Publisher: Riptide Publishing
  • Format: Galley/ARC
  • Rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ / ✰

Note: A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks.


My first Alexis Hall experience, and it was a memorable one. While I didn’t realize “Sand and Ruin and Gold” was a short story when I requested it on NetGalley (probably my own fault, I read the premise and thought it sounded interesting and didn’t pay attention to any word counts), it worked. The word count was just enough to get through what needed to be said without using all kinds of purple prose and unnecessary scenes. It just . . . worked. Really, really well.

In “Sand and Ruin and Gold,” the main character – whose name I never caught, if it’s ever given, which I don’t think it is – is a young man who was genetically engineered to be perfect. He defies his perfection by running away to join the cirque. In the cirque, he eventually establishes himself enough to work with the mermaids, who perform shows for audiences. For the most part, he sees them as others do – as animals – until the arrival of Nerites, a merman who captivates our main character in ways that no other man ever has.

Nerites is too human not to.

“Sand and Ruin and Gold” might be a story about a prince and a merman, but it has a lot of themes that I could entirely relate to. Love. The need of belonging. It’s something everyone can relate to, really. Everyone has loved. Everyone has gone through loss, which is another prevalent theme. Everyone has needed to belong.

I can’t really say much about this book without spoiling it, and I can’t really say much about this book because it was just really, really good. Not the level of perfection that I save my five-star ratings for, granted, but almost. So close, in fact, that I did consider a five star rating. I really did.

Because it made me feel something.

It made me feel sad.

It made me feel happy.

It made me feel outraged.

It made me feel sour.

It made me feel sweet.

It made me feel like my world was collapsing as surely as the prince and merman’s worlds were.

So 4/5 stars, and I think I’m going to start looking into Alexis Hall’s other stories now, because if he can write like this, I’ve really been missing out.

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