Synopsis:

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 something is amiss. 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. 

Review:

Skin of the Sea reminds me a lot of Children of Blood and Bone because they both take inspiration from West African mythology and their world of Orisha. Simidele is a Mami Wata, a mermaid, who has the duty of collecting the souls of people who dies in the sea. Often they are slaves captured by the White coloniser and thrown from the ships. Simidele saves her soul and brings them to Yemoja for the final blessing. One day, she sees a boy, Kola, falling into the sea, but when she realises that he is not dead yet, Simi goes against her duty and saves the boy’s life, even if it means facing Yemoja and the god Oludumare’s anger. Simi and Kola find themselves on a journey that will bring them unexpectedly towards the same enemy.

I have to admit one of the main reasons I wanted to pick up this book is the stunning cover. I also usually enjoy mermaid stories and Skin in the Sea really hit the spot. The world-building with personified Orisha was amazingly introduced within the first chapters and it was easy to grasp and understand. As a debut novel, this book was amazing, super descriptive and fast-pacing and action-packed. 

It is a fluid combination of West African mythology and Black history. On one hand, it will bring to the surface the dark moments of Black history and slavery. On the other hand, with this world filled with magical elements, it will also celebrate the unity of the community and the colourful traditional African culture. 

I thought that the romance was fast and too obvious, but I am actually willing to close an eye on it, considering the richness of this debut novel. I think, and I am pretty sure I am not alone in this, the ending is a bit of a question mark. It was brutal, in the sense that it was abrupt and still now I am not sure if there is going to be a sequel or not (if you have the answer please enlighten me). I understand that there is a lot left to explore and a few characters that needed closure. However, if this is the end, I would say “Bravo”, this was brilliant. Finally, a story that will make me think, a character that I will find myself thinking about from time to time. Finally, a story that depicts a badass brave, courageous female character who has the balls to do what is right. 

And if this is not a standalone, well… I am becoming less and less a fan of sequels, to be honest, I will be a bit disappointed. I don’t want to say more because I don’t want to give out spoilers, but I guess if there is a sequel I will eventually try to pick it up in this sea of sequels and trilogies. 

If you love mermaid stories and you want more from the world of Orisha, and you are looking to lose yourself in a fantastic world-building, this book needs to go on your radar.