Book Reviews

Book Review: Skin of the Sea

by Natasha Bowen

publisher’s synopsis

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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 goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable–she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods.

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 fails, she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it. 

Skin of the Sea is a YA fantasy inspired by African mythology with echoes of The Little Mermaid.

I enjoyed the worldbuilding of Skin of the Sea. Because it’s based off of African mythology, it has a setting and fantasy races that are different than most books. I appreciated the small glimpse into African culture and lore that Skin of the Sea provided.

The plot had the slightest fairy tale feel, which I liked. However, it didn’t suck me in like I’d hoped it would.

Bowen did a nice job of putting together the cast of characters and making them distinct. But like with the plot, I didn’t connect to the characters a ton.

Overall, Skin of the Sea was an enjoyable read, but it didn’t blow me away. I’ll probably continue reading the series though as it is published. Also, the cover is lovely.

Cautions: light romance; non-graphic moderate violence; non-graphic, but realistic, descriptions of conditions on a slave ship; SPOILER: in a flashback, we see Simi throw herself overboard a ship before she can be thrown overboard, essentially committing suicide. As she is dying, she is turned into one of the Mami Wata

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