(ThyBlackMan.com) When one thinks of mermaid stories in fantasy tales the Little Mermaid immediately comes to minds. Often times when we think fantasy fiction, we think white stories and pantheons whereby when we characters look like us they are in assisting roles. Fantasy fiction is not just a genre that allows the reader to escape to a far away place, but sometimes it’s the best way to tell the complexities of a true story. Natasha Bowen’s “Skin of the Sea” gives us the beauty of fantasy, African Gods & Goddesses in the Orishas, and tells a gut-wrenching story of enslavement, conflict within self, sacrifice, love, and consequence. The author does offer a disclaimer to the reader that the subject matter can be triggering as it deals with slavery, suicide and death. Yet, the book is a flowing work of literary beauty. The author creates such a vivid story with language that grips and captivates the reader from beginning to end.
“I circle the ship with the sharks, slipping between dark waves. The water is layered with cold currents, sea creatures, and a ship that slices through it with cargo holds full of stolen people. I swim underneath the swells, away from the gaze of men and just out of the reach of jaws. Waiting.”
Natasha Bowen captures the conflict of her main character as this character battles with her current state as a mermaid. Unlike the stories we’ve encountered regarding mermaid this book gives us something completely different as to why they exist, and the purpose they must serve. If one is not familiar, the reader is introduced to several deities that are the Orisha’s and many mystical creatures found within African lore. This gives the story such a uniqueness that mermaids and the like may never be seen the same again. When we think of pantheons we know so much about Greek, Roman and Norse…but we are seeing more literature that allows African Pantheons to take center stage. It’s absolutely awesome and makes the literature more relatable.
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“A woman, her skin a dark brown in the water, black tufts of her wave in the current, revealing more wounds on the side of her face. She spins slowly and something in the line of her body speaks to me. There was no easy death here, I thin, closing my eyes briefly. But then there never is.”
Slavery is never an easy subject to encounter, but while it is present and addressed it’s a part of the narrative while no dominating the narrative. The author did a splendid job as it allows the reader to see the atrocity of the institution from a different perspective. Its as if the waves tell the story of the ancestors stolen in the trade. I felt this had more of an impact in a different way. It allowed the mind to process enslavement in another space.
“Do not worry, we will work on finding out what this means. All signs need to be understood, not feared just because they are unknown.”
Within the story there are themes one can draw upon that would make for great book club discussions within the Black community. The story is rich and will leave you wanting more. Luckily the reader doesn’t have to wait much longer as book two, “Soul of the Deep” will be released September 27, 2022. I for one can’t wait to see how the story will continue and will definitely share my thoughts with you.
“He will be blessed by Yemoja, and he will return home.”
“Skin Of The Sea”, by Natasha Bowen can be found in local bookstores, Amazon, and anywhere books can be purchased.
Staff Writer; Christian Starr
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