Hi everyone and welcome to my tour stop for Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen hosted through TBR and Beyond Tours. I’m excited to share my full spoiler-free review as part of my stop.
You can check out the full schedule for the tour here.
About the BookSkin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on November 2, 2021
An unforgettable fantasy debut inspired by West African mythology, this is Children of Blood and Bone meets The Little Mermaid, in which a mermaid takes on the gods themselves.
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 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 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 doesn't, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.
About the Author
Natasha Bowen is a writer, a teacher, and a mother of three children. She is of Nigerian and Welsh descent and lives in Cambridge, England, where she grew up. Natasha studied English and creative writing at Bath Spa University before moving to East London, where she taught for nearly ten years. Her debut book Skin of the Sea was inspired by her passion for mermaids and African history. She is obsessed with Japanese and German stationery and spends stupid amounts on notebooks, which she then features on her secret Instagram. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, watched over carefully by Milk and Honey, her cat and dog.
I remember when I was a little kid and we would embark on 12+ hour car rides relatively frequently. We had a boxy TV that was connected to the car through a cigarette lighter. I experienced a lot of cinematic firsts on that little screen from The Princess Bride to The Sound of Music and of course, The Little Mermaid.
One part nostalgia and many parts curiousity, I decided to check out this reimagining of Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved classic.
I adored the first half of this book absolutely fascinating and utterly captivating. Our main character is Simi, one of the Mami wata that was created by Orisha of the water. Simi bears the responsibility of ferrying the souls of those who perish after being thrown from slave ships.
Initially, I loved Simi’s quietly reflective demeanor. The atmosphere felt almost dream-like as Bowen weaves of tale that leaves the faint taste of salt sharp on your tongue.
The Nigerian mythology and culture were fascinating and I think for that reason alone the book deserves to be in the hands of teens and on classroom bookshelves
But as the book diverged from Simi’s internal world and her wrestle with who she is and where she belongs, if fell a little flat for me.
The second half felt like your generic ya fantasy quest with a band of misfit individuals who are all a little rough around the edges. Inevitably, as they cross boundaries and learn way too much about each other, they come to consider one another a sort of found family if you will. I’m not arguing its value as a trope, as ubiquitous as it is in YA, I’m simply making a point about an observable patterns.
I’m not denying that for many, this ethos is exactly what the doctor ordered. But in this instance, I found myself a little bored. I have every intention of reading the second book with the hope that it’s a better experience for me.
Overall, I gave Skin of the Sea 3.5🌟. I think it’s a solid read for the reluctant reader out there who adored Disney. I also think if you enjoyed the meanidering nature of fantastical tomes like Strange the Dreamer and Children of Blood and Bone. It was a good book, I just think it was a case of it falling into the wrong reader’s hand.
What About You?
Have you read Skin of the Sea? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!