Book: Skin of the Sea (Skin of the Sea #1)
Author: Natasha Bowen
Genre: fantasy – mermaids
Read if you like: mermaids, African folklore, stories with a lot of magic
Good morning bookworms! How is your December going? I have had a slow start to the reading month but that’s okay because my vacation time is coming soon! I plan to read a lot while on holiday! And I’m really hoping to get lots of books for Christmas.
Skin of the Sea was so good. This is a hero’s journey story. Simidele is a Mami Wata (Mother of Water). She is a mermaid created by the orisa (god) Yemoja and her job is to rescue the souls of those that drown at sea. Basically people that can’t have a proper burial so she completes the ritual. This story is set in the 1400’s, when Portugal first started going to Africa to steal people and make them slaves in Europe. So the people Simidele and the other Mami Wata are finding, are often people that were sick or dying and thrown overboard from the slave transporting ships.
One day Simi finds a ship and follows it (with a bunch of sharks) knowing eventually a body will come. But when a body does fall, it is a young man and he is still alive. Simi isn’t supposed to save people, she is just supposed to save souls. But she makes an exception and saves his life. She takes him to land, where she can go, her fin transforms into legs. His name is Kola and he wants to get back to his family. Simi summons Yemoja to ask her what to do. Yemoja tells her she has made a grave error saving Kola’s life. By doing so she has damned Yemoja and all the other Mami Wata. She must journey to find the Supreme Creator to ask for forgiveness. And so Kola and Simidele begin a journey through treacherous lands and fighting magical creatures. Yemoja left Simi with one more warning…if she were to fall in love with a human, she would become just foam on the sea.
Hook – 2/2: Mermaids! Yes please! The reader is instantly transported under the sea into a world of magical creatures and all powerful gods. I was hooked from page one.
Plot – 2/3: Honestly I loved it. I love a hero’s journey story. This is losing a point simply because I’m fickle. Along the way Simi and Kola run into obstacle after obstacle. At first it was fine, but nearing the end of the book, they still haven’t reached their destination and are running into more obstacles. This was annoying. However, the obstacles were so interesting! They meet so many magical beings, some good and some bad. And Bowen does a great job of explaining each one and what our heroes need to do. So I loved it and found it annoying that there were so many. The ending was also a bit rushed.
Writing – 3/3: This is Bowen’s debut novel and I will be eagerly awaiting book 2. She has a way of writing lyrically but not so much that you spend time trying to find the actual meaning of the sentence. She introduces new magical characters and legends with an explanation that doesn’t feel forced. Which I think is important because there were so many.
Characters – 2/2: This was such a good story of young love. The shy looks, the calculated brush of the hand, the confusion. It was lovely. Also the love was forbidden which just made it that much sweeter. I really liked the character development and the bonds everyone creates.
I am looking forward to book 2. We aren’t left with a cliffhanger thankfully, but we are left with some questions, and knowing a bit of what challenge Simi must face next.