Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen // Book Review

I’m a huge fan of mermaids, so when I heard that there was a book out there that combines The Little Mermaid with Children of Blood and Bone, I knew I had to check this out. I’m so glad I did because I found myself a new favorite. Thanks to Get Underlined for a gifted copy of the book.

Here’s more about Skin of the Sea

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 does the unthinkable–she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it.

To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But something is amiss. 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 doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

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My thoughts

The story follows Simidele, a young Mami Wata, or mermaid, who’s only job is to bless the souls passed at sea. However, being a newly minted mermaid, she’s been having a tough time coming to terms with her new life glimpsing at memories of her life as a human for clues to who she used to be. When she accidentally saves a boy, that’s when the story really starts to begin because as a Mami Wata, your only job is to bless the souls. Because she wanted to save a life, Simi sets off on a quest to speak with the Supreme Creator in hopes of remedying the situation.

And let tell you that the adventure is so much fun. From pirates who took over an enslavement slave ship to save other enslaved Africans to meeting mythical creatures to entertaining a riddle-filled trap of an island to save two children, this story just keeps moving from this point on.

I loved Simi and Kola so much. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the romantic elements going on, I loved their dynamic. Simi is this intelligent person with strength that surprised me to read. I loved that she uses her knowledge to help Kola get back his twin siblings. I also love Kola because of how much a leader he is. At first, I thought he was just a teenager who liked to get in trouble, but the moment he gets back to his village, he’s transformed into this man with a plan to get back his siblings and fight against Esu, the orisa who stole them.

The story itself is wrapped in so many layers. You have Simi who’s looking for some remnants of her past. You have Kola who must get back to his village to protect his siblings. But then they go on this adventure meeting mythical creatures, friendly allies, scary creatures, and the gods of this West African tale. And on top of that, you have these orisa making visits, secret deals being made, and so many faces that appear throughout the story. Honestly, you’re in for a ride that doesn’t let go not even at the end!

I mentioned this a second ago, but the only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the romance. It was fine, but a little forced and I much rather would see Simi and Kola be allies as they fought against Esu. However, I also know that this story is loosely based on The Little Mermaid, so there needs to be that romantic element to keep that basis still true. The only other thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the bits and pieces that kind of fell off. I was intrigued by Yemoja, Simi’s creator, and her abilities. I’m hoping that the second book will dive further into these, especially since the ending left you wanting the second book right away!

Overall, this was such a good story that combines so many mythical creatures, legends, gods, and people into a beautiful narrative. The characters are so interesting and you want to find out about them and you’ll fall in love with them (even the side characters!). I truly loved this one and can’t wait for book 2.

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