Hello Humans! Welcome especially to anyone new joining this blog, I know there has got to be at least one of you! Today I’m reviewing a book that I have had my eye on for quite some time which I was grateful to receive this Christmas. The Seafarer’s Kiss is by the same author as The Tiger’s Watch which I reviewed back in 2017. Julia is wonderful at writing #ownvoices bi stories which is always nice to read. So…what’s it all about?
Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.
Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.
This is a ‘Little Mermaid’ retelling but with a fair few twists and turns on the way. It’s one of the better retellings I have read of late – so many of them just feel like fanfiction of the original fairytales and that grows old fast. This, by contrast, feels like something new, something fresh and something compellingly modern despite it’s antiquated roots. It really captures the potential of a retelling, you can add to stories the things that would never have been allowed before. I don’t think Hans Christian Anderson would have been ok with a bisexual mermaid, I may be wrong – I don’t know the guy.
It’s not a perfect story, I know some people have drawn attention to the inclusion of some negative attitudes towards infertility and some violent behavior in relationships – I would recommend reading the reviews on the Goodreads page to hear these from people more qualified to speak on the subject than I.
However, overwhelmingly this book made me happy. It’s a clever way of telling a well known story that has moments of heartbreaking sadness as well as swelling moments of triumph. It’s short, so it has the potential to be a good book to travel with or the little kick you need to get you out of a reading slump. For me, it was nice to see another Julia Ember book that champions representation without feeling like the book was written just to be ‘#diverse’. We need diverse books, but so often it becomes a gimmic, a way of making money rather than being an important part of creating representative literature. This, happily, does the latter (in my opinion at least.)
My rating: 3.5/5 stars
What say you? What other retellings do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments!