Hannah: Daughters of the Sea

Book review by
Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media
Hannah: Daughters of the Sea Book Poster Image
Rather innocent gothic romance with a fantastic twist.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Includes historical background about 19th-century social classes and a woman's place in society plus information about the status of orphans and the Orphan Train, life in a shipping town and as a household servant.

Positive Messages

Themes of self-reliance, listening to your own intuition, and that working hard will get you what you want.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hannah, the main character, is an ambitious, self-reliant girl who is hardworking, persevering, and observant. She is, however, not above breaking some rules.


Material goods are damaged; a cat is alleged killed; the eldest daughter speaks abusively and tauntingly. Some creepy suspense.


The eldest daughter fantasizes about a painter seeing her naked shoulders and kissing her. Some passionate kissing. Hannah swims naked in the sea and "deep feelings" stir.


Mild utterances such as "cat piss," "damn," and  "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A reference to laudanum and an opium den.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there is no bodice ripping in this gothic fantasy. The most you'll find is an unsettling attraction two girls have for a young painter and some passionate kisses. There is also much discussion of the eldest daughter’s madness and the acknowledgement that it might impact her marriage prospects.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 11 years old March 16, 2013

Great Book.

Great book. Hannah swims naked leaving readers to imagine what she looks like naked. Otherwise good book.
Kid, 12 years old April 2, 2012

Good book!

This book is really good! Hannah really is a good role model for younger kids.
The only thing I didn't like, was that Hannah swam naked in the ocean..... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Hannah leaves the orphanage at the age of 15, her first placement via the Orphan Train to Kansas is a disaster. A physical deterioration strikes that necessitates her return to New England where she becomes a scullery maid. A mysterious and tantalizing portrait painter, an obsession with the sea, and a magical transformation help Hannah become her true self.

Is it any good?

This metaphoric coming-of-age tale reels the reader in with a likeable heroine who is smart, hardworking, self-reliant, self-aware, and yet innocent and naïve. A new twist on fantasy by an adept author provides readers a great introduction to gothic romance. Is the eldest daughter of the household truly mad, or simply spoiled and manipulative? Who is the mysterious young painter who compels in Hannah forbidden desires? These mysteries and the requisite foreboding carry the reader along swimmingly.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the societal expectations for young women in the year 1900. How are they vastly different?

  • Were there positive aspects to being a maid rather than being forced into the role a rich young woman had to play?

  • How might such a “madness” be treated in today’s world?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and romance

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