If you don’t know the story yet, The Shape of Water is about a Sea God that is captured by an evil man who considers himself a Jungle God. The Sea God is taken to laboratory where he is held captive and subjected to torture by human monsters who want to destroy this thing they don’t understand. A mute janitor named Elisa shows him kindness and brings him eggs and music and they fall in love.
If you’ve ever had a little secret crush on The Creature from the Black Lagoon this is the book that was written for you. Even if you haven’t, it might be the book for you!
There is brutality and ickiness but the sweet romance provides a nice contrast.
This book is based on the movie of the same name and if you enjoyed the movie, I think you should read the book too. I was expecting an emotionless rehashing of the screenplay but that’s not at all what I got. The story is fleshed out most excellently as are all of the characters. The first ¼ reads like an action adventure novel that takes place in the jungle. We see bad guy Strickland in action and he does some horrible, depraved things that end up haunting him throughout the story. There is so much more here than what was shown in the film that you need to know, if you’re anything like me. Strickland’s wife even has a storyline that I found interesting. She is the typical perfect 50’s/60’s wife but she’s not thrilled with her lot in life and longs for more and actually takes the steps to do so causing Strickland to become more unhinged as the book progresses. I loved seeing that bastard get beaten down. We also get to know Zelda and Giles and the Russian scientist on a much deeper level as well.
Now about that fish love, and I know that’s why you’re here, it works spectacularly in the book and it’s not at all “icky” (the ickiness only came from Strickland and his rotting fingers and garbage thoughts). The romance develops too quickly in the movie for my tastes (I’m never a fan of insta-love even if the male is a Sea God) but here there’s time for it develop at a natural pace as they communicate through sign language and his physical color changes that he controls to show his emotions and calm situations for anyone paying close enough attention - and Elisa is. We get to know Elisa and are allowed in on all of her intimate thoughts. We even get a bit of the Sea God’s perspective which I LOVED. He’s primitive and gentle in his thoughts and has another way of looking at life that felt genuine to who he was before being ripped from the calmness and savage beauty of the jungle.
This is a unique and strange love story and I really and truly am glad I took some time to read it. 4 ½ Stars