Title- Skin of the Sea
Author- Natasha Brown
Series- Possible sequel coming out later in 2022, unsure of name
Genre- YA fantasy
POV- first person, present tense
Comps- mix of “Fable,” “A Nature of Witches” and “The Keeper of Night.”
Steam level- 0/5 spice. Super duper clean
Cover– beautiful and captivating
A way to survive. A way to serve. A way to save. Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata—a mermaid—collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home. But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable—she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods. To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail . . . Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she fails, she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.
Character Development- I loved her spurts of flashbacks of her former life and her longing to be who she once was with hesitation of her new role amid the ocean.
Best part- the imagery of the ocean
What I would change- I needed a bit more “umph.” Sometimes the emotions felt like they almost took me there, but not quite.
First chapter-The writing felt fresh and crystal clear with vivid imagery of the sea. The Black mermaid-like creature was remade from a human and now collects souls that have passed on.
Setting- the best part
Character goals/motivations- it revolves around Kola more than Simi
Theme- There wasn’t a significant “all is lost” moment where thee theme is super obvious to the reader. Their love for family and keeping the land alive was evident, as well as making self sacrifices for the bigger picture/grand scheme. Spiritual connection to the afterworld is also prominent since they prioritize souls moving on
Vivid sensory descriptions- YES!
Dialogue- Sometimes all the variety of cultural names confused me and messed with the flow of the dialogue when explaining the World, but overall it was good.
Diversity- This is a Black mermaid with amazing cultural stories. Most characters are Black that I could determine except for the slave traders who through Kola off their boat into the ocean
Conflict/tension/obstacles- Yes, but more struggle could be added. They were successful too quickly.
Pacing- medium if you want to fully engage your self in the descriptives, fast if you read like me and don’t fully immerse in the vivid poetic imagery
Thoughts while reading-
Page 36- I love that she’s questioning her identity and purpose and breaking the rules for the gift of life.
Page 61- refreshing, fluid, and crisp are words I’d use to describe this. When the writing and story feels so effortless, I KNOW I’m in good hands. The author follows action beats so well that it flows from one scene to the next with such ease I can picture it as a movie.
Page 76- there may be too many flashbacks now. It takes me out of the present action
Page 92- I wish her goal was a little stronger. Asking for forgiveness doesn’t feel important enough.
Page 118- I love the spiritual based culture
Halfway through- oh no! The twins! Seems like there’s a lot of withholding of info and secrets between the protagonists. Open up the communication y’all!
Page 164- one thing that hasn’t been made clear is if Simi is mortal and eats/needs nourishment/heals/dies.
I adore the natural elements of the story in the forest, river and ocean & how it’s mostly outdoors. That aspect feels similar to my WIP, the Linked Trilogy.
Page 200- I’m a tiny bored. Need something to pick up & accelerate. By the way, I love that she stores her dagger in her hair
Page 258- excellent story telling and imagery. I’m wishing their obstacles were a little more impactful. The characters get through their turmoils quickly and without as much struggle as I’m hoping for.
Unfortunately I predicted page 261 & 266 which were big reveals, I was hoping to be a bit more surprised. Yet the traditional way the author has the comrades dropping like flies during the big battle is epic and not used enough anymore in fiction. This big scene honestly reminds me of Harry Potter on the way to the Chamber of Secrets and he ends up facing the problem alone
Page 280- the monologue and dialogue is a bit long for the action scene. Yet the negotiation attempt on page 283 are superb. And a riddle! Excellent because he’s the trickster. I wish there was more evidence of this earlier instead of just through legend. But this a great add on.
Page 293- oh man, what was her vow? I think I can guess.
Ending- this novel unexpectedly ends in a big cliffhanger and fyi this is not a romance. No happily for now or tied in a neat bow, just strictly fantasy. I was surprised that book 2 will come out in 2022 but I don’t know what date or the title. I’m also unsure if there will be further after that sequel.