Merworld News: Book Review - A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
- 5/5 Starfish; highly recommend.
- My favorite is how the author blends significant themes such as race, sisterhood, and finding your voice with creative, fictional fantasy.
- Both main characters are great. I have to admit, Effie was my favorite, which is surprising because Tavia’s the siren and well…duh, anything mermaid-esque is the best.
- A blend of tension and touching moments that make you want to jump through the pages to a) slap someone or b) offer hugs to the characters.
- The first few chapters read a bit slow. Keep going though, because once the tempo picks up (around ~25% into the novel), it’s so worth the read.
A Song Below Water, by Bethany C. Morrow, is a powerful, heart-bending story about two teenage Black girls living in a magical, modern-day Portland. Morrow effortlessly weaves important themes about race, sisterhood, and finding your voice, alongside a creative fictional world. This combination of entertainment and significant dialogue around topics that matter makes this novel a true gem.
The novel opens by introducing Tavia, a siren who’s been hiding her true identity on land because of the nation’s prejudice against her kind. Tavia’s not-related-by-blood but just as loved sister, Effie, shares an equal narrative in the novel as the two go on a journey of self-discovery. The plot unfolds as Tavia struggles to find her voice in a world where a siren’s call has the ability to control people and therefore make sirens a target of fear and hatred. At the same time, Effie experiences physical and emotional shifts as her special form of magic rises to the surface of her being.
Without giving too much away, there are so many emotional and memorable moments in this novel. The characters come to life many times over in distressing scenes full of racism. Cringe-worthy moments that make high school rough. Estranged and controlling family relations. And in sentence after sentence about the affirming bond shared between sisters.
Creativity and world-building further makes the story shine. Such as a network designed to protect sirens by letting them use their voices and call out during gospel choir. A gargoyle guardian. The Renaissance faire angle. And other fantastic reveals I can’t mention lest I spoil the plot twists for you.
All in all, this novel is a lovely example of a creative work that simultaneously takes you on an engaging and imaginative journey, while also making you think critically about the real world we live in today. That’s what I loved most about Morrow’s, A Song Below Water. The author combines hard truths with imagination to encourage an audience to lower their barriers, open up to conversation, and love the people, sirens, and all beings in the world.
That's all for now, Merworld. Check out Morrow's novel at your favorite book retailer. Until next time. You flipping rock!