Skin of the Sea

by Natasha Bowen

Children's & YA Fiction Debut Books of the Month Historical fiction

LoveReading Expert Review of Skin of the Sea

West African mythology meets The Little Mermaid in a mesmerising fantasy fascinatingly entwined with the tragic history of the Transatlantic Slave trade

This thrilling debut is infused with the history, language and mythology of West Africa. Set in the mid 1400’s when the Portuguese first began abducting and then buying West Africans, it pursues an interesting perspective on the terrible human cost of the Slave Trade. The author describes in a note how she came across many stories featuring Yemoja, a Yoruba deity with the tail of a fish. Stories of giving comfort to Africans on the ships, or wrecking slave vessels or escorting home the souls of those who died and were discarded in the sea.

From this and her own fascination with the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, the author has created an unforgettable story. Yemoja has created many Mami Wata, mermaids tasked with escorting the souls of enslaved people thrown into the sea. Simindele, a teenage girl, is one of them, but when she instead saves the life of a boy, she unwittingly puts all the Mami Wata in peril and must seek the forgiveness of the supreme deity. The boy she saves also has a dangerous mission to save his family and on their perilous journey they grow dangerously close.

Just like The Little Mermaid, if Simi were to act upon her feelings she would dissolve into sea foam and just like Andersen’s creation Simi’s travels in human form on land cause her terrible pain. In the denouement there is also a hint of Persephone and Hades in her dealings with the oceanic equivalent of the Underworld. Throughout this action packed adventure the narrative is enriched with elements of West African language and we learn fascinating detail about their sophisticated societies, mathematical prowess, customs and religion. This is an innovative and refreshing mix of western and African myth wrapped up in a really rewarding read that should find many fans.

Joy Court

Skin of the Sea Synopsis

An epic love story infused with West African mythology. For fans of The Gilded Ones, Children of Blood and Bone, and Circe, this book is a powerful new imagining of a devastating time in history, told through the eyes of a bold and unforgettable heroine.

This is the story of a great love - a love that will threaten worlds and anger Gods. This is a story that will change history. Simidele is one of the Mami Wata, mermaids duty-bound to collect the souls of those who die at sea and bless their journeys back home to the Supreme Creator. But when a living boy is thrown overboard a slave ship, Simi saves his life, going against an ancient decree and bringing terrible danger to the mami wata. Now Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends - a journey of vengeful gods, treacherous lands and legendary creatures. If she fails, she risks not just the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it. 

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780241413975
Publication date: 4th November 2021
Author: Natasha Bowen
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd an imprint of Penguin Random House Children's UK
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 336 pages
Primary Genre Children's & YA Fiction
Other Genres:

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Natasha Bowen Press Reviews

One of the most epic and original fantasies I've read in a long time. Natasha Bowen has crafted a world full of heart and imagination. - Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Instructions for Dancing

The most engrossing, thought-provoking, beautiful novel...knocks your socks off and leaves you wanting more. - Namina Forna, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Ones

Bursting with innovative inspiration...A divine debut that explores the glories of West African myth, religion, and history - Kirkus

A triumph of storytelling. - Kalynn Bayron, bestselling author of Cinderella is Dead

A dazzling debut . . . Bowen relays a story as lushly described as it is cinematic, centering a brave headstrong protagonist coming into her own power in an age of change - Publisher's Weekly

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780241413975
Publication date: 04/11/2021
Format: Paperback

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