Hello humans! I think we all have that one book that we lend to everyone we know. For me that has been The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember. I don’t think there is anyone left in my life to whom I haven’t talked about this queer retelling of The Little Mermaid. So, naturally, when the chance came to read the sequel The Navigator’s Touch I leapt at the chance. This was billed as a Peter Pan inspired story so it also almost adds to the year of ALL THE RETELLINGS.
After invaders destroyed her village, murdered her family, and took her prisoner, shield-maiden Ragna is hungry for revenge. A trained warrior, she is ready to fight for her home, but with only a mermaid and a crew of disloyal mercenaries to aid her, Ragna knows she needs new allies. Guided by the magical maps on her skin, battling storms and mutiny, Ragna sets sail across the Northern Sea.
She petitions the Jarl in Skjordal for aid, but despite Ragna’s rank and fighting ability, the Jarl sees only a young girl, too inexperienced to lead, unworthy of help. To prove herself to the Jarl and win her crew’s respect, Ragna undertakes a dangerous expedition. But when forced to decide between her own freedom and the fate of her crew, what will she sacrifice to save what’s left of her home?
Inspired by Norse mythology and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, this companion novel to The Seafarer’s Kiss is a tale of vengeance, valor, honor, and redemption.
Content warnings taken from Interlude Press Website
- Part 1, Chapter 4: Murder of a child, beating with a belt
- Part 1, Chapter 11: Discussion of torture
- Part 2, Chapter 1: Animal death, graphic depiction of battle injuries
- Part 2, Chapter 4: Depiction of a human-eating monster, graphic execution
- Part 2, Chapter 5: Imprisonment of children
- General warnings: violence, depiction of kidnapping
This is definitely more Peter Pan inspired than it is a retelling, don’t go in expecting to read about immortal boys who fly with the use of fairy dust, you’ll end up feeling a little flat. But this is a story about the best character (at least, in my opinion) in The Seafarer’s Kiss, Ragna. Any kind of seafaring character is always wondrous in my book and Ragna is no exception. I loved the idea of her tattoos shifting to show maps to various places, it was a nice magical detail added to the world. I also loved Ragna’s characterisation, she felt incredibly real to me and, while I can’t relate to having to talk round a Viking crew, I found her struggles with her own power and responsibilities very relatable.
This book didn’t have as much of the queer romance as the first book did, and it’s certainly more of a difficult read at times (I mean just look at those TWs) but it was interesting to get more into the grit of these characters and to look at their flaws. This series may have been fairytale inspired (ok Peter Pan isn’t a fairytale but you get my meaning) but it certainly isn’t twee.
One of my favourite tropes in fiction is the idea of having to complete trials in order to prove yourself or obtain something, I’m not sure what it is but that always makes the narrative seem much more satisfying to me. I ended up getting a little confused while reading this as to what was actually happening and who was asking what of whom, but that might have been my sleep-deprived brain tying itself in knots. The story does culminate in some great action sequences which made me forget my confusion.
I still think The Seafarer’s Kiss is the stronger story, and I’d be a little more wary lending this one out, just because of the more dark portions, but all in all, this had been a great duology to read.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a digital advanced review copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
The Navigator’s Touch is out on September 13 for those who wish to preorder!
What say you? Have you read The Seafarer’s Kiss? Let me know in the comments below!