Continue below to read my review of the book and be sure to follow this link - [TOUR SCHEDULE] to check out the rest of the stops on the 'SKIN OF THE SEA' book tour brought to you by TBR & BEYOND TOURS and NATASHA BOWEN!
Skin of the Sea
November 2nd, 2021
Young Adult Fantasy
Random House Books for Young Readers
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.
rating: ★ ★ ★ (3 / 5 stars)
'Skin of the Sea' by Natasha Bowen is one of those books I was obsessed with reading from the moment I saw it announced. The cover is beautiful, the topic is a favorite of mine, and it boasts inspiration from West African mythology.
From a technical side, everything is where it should be. Major plot points, reveals, and dramatic moments are spread along at a solid pace.
Simi is kind and likable. She tries hard to do the right thing and has a lot of potential to be a deeply interesting character, as does Kola and the small found family he's surrounded himself with.
The gods we get to see her interact with, have intriguing origins and I would have loved to see a bit more of them in particular. In fact, I feel that's the book's biggest strength.. great elements.. be they mythological, magical, or otherwise. What each of these things really lack is depth. There's so much room to develop them for the reader and that never really happens. The author attempts it here and there, but ultimately those forays are a handful of pages buried within many more that feel unnecessarily long.
It's definitely a quick read, as I made my way through it in about 3 hours.. but I feel in part this is due to the book being largely filled with fluff. Little things like using the characters names seemingly every sentence or two at times, the drawn out semi-formal sentence structure more likely to be found in high school essays than novels, and scenes that are a bit of a waste dragging through multiple pages as characters engage in repetitive conversations or too much focus is put on peripheral events like the traveling or meals, rather than using those moments to really build connections.
As debut's go, this one is decent. Bowen has the pieces, she just needs the experience using them to build a robust story.. and I do think she could have a bright future in the genre of her choice if she shifts her attention to the meatier parts.
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.