Skin of the sea

Natasha Bowen

Book - 2021

Transformed by the goddess Yemoja into a Mami Wati, an African mermaid charged with collecting the souls of those who die at sea, Simi goes against the gods to save a living boy, Kola, from drowning.

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Series
Skin of the sea ; 1
Subjects
Genres
Fantasy fiction
Published
New York : Random House Children's Books [2021]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
309 pages ; 22 cm
Audience
Ages 12 up.
ISBN
9780593120941
0593120949
9780593120972
0593120973
9780593120958
0593120957
Main Author
Natasha Bowen (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* For her debut, Bowen pens a riveting, fast-paced fantasy readers won't be able to put down. In service to the Gods, Simi fulfills the role of Mami Wata, a mermaid whose duty is to collect the souls of people who die at sea. But Simi's memories of a former life perpetually haunt her and compel her to save a boy from drowning, instead of watching him die. Her choice violates an ancient edict, and the punishment for it threatens all Mami Wata. To atone, Simi must seek out the Supreme Creator; however, a shadowy force circling Simi desires to see her fail. The stakes for discovering what the force is could not be higher, as failure means that all Mami Wata—and perhaps the entire world—could perish. Bowen weaves a tantalizing story of intrigue, romance, danger, and mythology, complete with a lush, immersive setting off the coast of West Africa. The characters are just as unique and dynamic, especially Simi, who is a fierce, fearless heroine. Any story about literal Black Girl Magic featuring a Black mermaid is sure to shine, but Bowen's story swims to sparkling heights. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In Bowen's dazzling debut, rooted in West African mythology and mid-1400s history, Simidele is a mermaid, or Mami Wata, tasked by orisa Mother Yemoja to collect and usher to the afterlife the souls of deceased West African people thrown overboard from passing slave ships. When a living teen named Kola lands in the water during a violent storm, Simi defies Yemoja and Olodumare, the Supreme Creator, and saves his life. Haunted by the memory of the captured human girl she was before she was "remade" into a Mami Wata by Yemoja, Simi pleads with Yemoja for help returning the boy home, whatever the cost. To protect her Mami Wata family from certain death at Olodumare's hand, she travels with Kola to make restitution. But there is something deadly pursuing Simi, and it has a terrible plan. Reinvigorating the image of West Africa as not merely a site of human suffering but a historical place of great invention, fellowship, and hope, Bowen relays a story as lushly described as it is cinematic, centering a brave, headstrong protagonist coming into her own power in an age of change. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Nov.)¦ Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In Bowen's dazzling debut, rooted in West African mythology and mid-1400s history, Simidele is a mermaid, or Mami Wata, tasked by orisa Mother Yemoja to collect and usher to the afterlife the souls of deceased West African people thrown overboard from passing slave ships. When a living teen named Kola lands in the water during a violent storm, Simi defies Yemoja and Olodumare, the Supreme Creator, and saves his life. Haunted by the memory of the captured human girl she was before she was "remade" into a Mami Wata by Yemoja, Simi pleads with Yemoja for help returning the boy home, whatever the cost. To protect her Mami Wata family from certain death at Olodumare's hand, she travels with Kola to make restitution. But there is something deadly pursuing Simi, and it has a terrible plan. Reinvigorating the image of West Africa as not merely a site of human suffering but a historical place of great invention, fellowship, and hope, Bowen relays a story as lushly described as it is cinematic, centering a brave, headstrong protagonist coming into her own power in an age of change. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Nov.)¦ Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 10 Up—It's been three months since Yemoja remade Simidele in the image of Mami Wata (a mermaid) and tasked her with recovering the souls of those who perish in the water. Though she knows this to be a gift, as she would otherwise be a soul sent back to Olodumare, the Supreme Creator, Simidele still clings to the memories of her human life. When a living boy named Kola is tossed from a slave ship, she rescues him and in doing so unknowingly breaks an ancient decree from the Supreme Creator—an act that could cost her very existence and that of her fellow Mami Wata sisters. She needs Olodumare's forgiveness, but another jealous Orisha is dogging her every step, hoping that she fails. It is no easy thing for a single girl to defy the gods. Blending West African mythology with the dark history of the slave trade, Bowen weaves a magical tale that will delight readers. Despite its heavy subject matter, this book is a testament to the strength of the human spirit amid tragedy that never shies away from the horrors it conveys. VERDICT Give this book to everyone, but especially fans of mythological and well-crafted fantasy.—India Winslow, formerly at Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA Copyright 2021 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Simi, a Mami Wata—a type of mermaid who collects the souls of those who die at sea—goes against an ancient decree by saving the life of a living boy and must now make amends in order to save the fate of all Mami Wata and the world as she knows it. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The must-read Black mermaid fantasy series that #1 NYT bestselling author Nicola Yoon calls “epic and original,” in which one mermaid takes on the gods themselves. Perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and Beasts of Prey.“Riveting.” —NPR“Evocative.” —Entertainment Weekly“Remarkable.” —BuzzfeedA 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.