The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember
Publication Date: May 4th 2017
Source: eARC from the author
Link to the author: http://julia-ember.com/
Mermaids, Vikings, LGBTQ, Kings, Love, Fate, Loki
If you love unique retellings of classic fairy tales, this story is for you! Page after page I was delighted at the way Julia Ember spun her version of The Little Mermaid. I love retellings that have the bare bones of the story but take on a whole new life around that structure and that’s what she did.
Our main character is Ersel and she lives a very different life from the mermaid we all know and love. She lives in the frigid waters of the ice shelf and she is not the daughter of the king, who is cruel and manipulative, but like Ariel, she is fascinated by humans. In her world, every female is valued for her fertility, but Ersel dreams of a life of adventure and free will. When it’s discovered that Ersel is one of the most fertile females in many years she begins to see that freedom slip away and takes extreme measures, making a deal with a trickster god, to secure her future. But everyone knows that when you make a deal with a god, things dont always go as planned. Will Ersel be able to best the trickster and discover the secret that the king has been hiding in the cold dark waters?
I really enjoyed this retelling and found it hard to put down. At 230 pages it was a quick read and I didn’t feel that it needed to be longer, all the necessary components were there and it wrapped up quite nicely. There were a few parts of the story that felt rushed, a little ‘too easy’ for our protagonist, but overall the pacing and the flow felt right. I struggled to connect with the main character though, or any of the characters for that matter. I think they could have been more complex and mood/atmosphere of the story could have been stronger. Those two elements would have pulled me in a little more and I would have cared more about the outcome. I think what made the story engaging was how unique it was, even though I didn’t connect to the characters, I couldn’t wait to see how the author would interpret the story next, it was full of twists and surprises. It definitely kept me on my toes and I found that impressive in just 230 pages. And there was diversity, I can’t speak to how well it was represented, but I loved it! The romance came up short though, I loved the characters as individuals but I didn’t feel the chemistry between them as I was reading. Seriously, I could read a whole story just on Ragna, she is so sassy and tough as nails! Lastly, I just want to say how much I love the way the main character came to love and accept all forms of herself, and her love interest did as well which I think is important. That self-acceptance was something I didn’t think about until a few days after I finished reading but might have been the thing that left the most lasting impression. It’s such an important message for young readers and Julia has always written characters that don’t fit society’s idea of the classic heroine. You know the one I mean, she’s a size 2 wearing high heels and her shirt is still perfectly white after defeating the bad guy? Yeah, you won’t find her here and I think we need more stories about kick-ass girls that young readers can actually relate to.
A huge thank you to Julia Ember for providing me with a copy of The Seafarers Kiss for review!