Merworld News: Book Review - Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen

Skin of the Sea Five Stars

Overall Rating:

  • Five Starfish; highly recommend.


  • I love the cast of characters ranging from mermaids, to gods and goddesses, to humans, to fairies, and monsters. Bowen builds a truly robust world based on African mythology and spiritual systems that is both relatable and extraordinary at the same time.
  • The protagonist, Simidele (Simi for short), is a brave heroine full of love and fight. She’s just the right balance of tenderhearted and rebel, walking – and swimming – a fine line between her duties as a Mami Wata mermaid and her compassion for humanity.
  • Although all the characters jump off the page, I have to mention my favorite, Issa. As a small yumbo boy (fairy-like spirit) Issa adds humor and endearment to the story, coupled with his strong faith and desire to do what’s right.


  • I really have nothing to say in terms of “dislikes.” This is a wonderfully written novel full of intrigue, feelings, and beautiful world-building.

Skin of the Sea, by Natasha Bowen, is a tale packed full of adventure, vivid imagery, and imagination. Bowen takes you on an engaging journey right from the beginning of the novel by introducing you to the watery world of the Mami Wata – mermaids tasked with collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing them into the afterlife. As a newer Mami Wata, Simidele (Simi for short), hasn’t fully forgotten her human life before she agreed to become a soul collector. Through snippets of memories revealed throughout the novel, we learn about Simi’s human family, her connection to the water goddess Yemoja, and about her time spent before her untimely would-be death had she not changed to a mermaid.

Simi’s big heart and compassion for humanity leads her to save a boy’s life against the gods’ wishes. Rather than letting the human, named Kola, drown and then collecting his soul, Simi drags the boy to safety on land. The unlikely pair then embarks on an adventure to ask forgiveness for Simi’s disobedience as well as save Kola’s village and family.

As mentioned earlier, Skin of the Sea is a treasure of a novel full of intrigue, feelings, and beautiful world-building. Readers are introduced to many mythological and spiritual creatures throughout the story with just enough detail to paint a colorful picture without overly lengthy descriptions. The same is true of Bowen’s scene setting, where she dribbles information into the action so you get a good sense of the world without distracting from the plot. Bowen’s characters come to life, each with their own strengths and faults, making for realistic ups and downs throughout the story arc. All in all, Skin of the Sea, is one of my favorite mermaid novels to date. I highly recommend this read to stretch your imagination and dive into a new watery world.

Stop what you're doing and go get Skin of the Sea at your favorite book retailer right now:) Until next time, Merworld. You flipping rock!