I received this book for free from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember
Release date: May 4th, 2017
Publisher: Interlude Press
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.
Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.
I’ve been a huge fan of Julia Ember’s ever since I read Unicorn Tracks last year. The story was a perfect blend of romance, mythical creatures and hard-hitting topics. The only problem? It was way, and I mean way, too short! So, I was out of my mind excited when The Seafarer’s Kiss kiss was announced. A full-length story featuring mermaids and Norse gods?!?! HELL YES!!
I went into this book with such high expectations. Now usually I end up being disappointed but not here. I fell in love with everything — the characters, the world, the beyond adorable belugas — while only a few pages into the story. It’s been promoted as a retelling of The Little Mermaid but don’t let that label fool you. Ember has created a fantastic fantasy world all of her own. And what’s even more impressive? It’s all done in around 230 pages! Her writing just flows. It’s action packed and non-stop, just how I like my books. I couldn’t stop reading and read through it quickly. I definitely see a re-read in the near future!
What really stood out to me were the characters. I’m all about books that are character driven and demonstrate great growth and progress and there’s tons of that here. All of the characters are deeply flawed and that’s what makes them so darn relatable. They all grow in some kind of way but what I appreciated the most was that by the end the characters still weren’t perfect. Nobody is and that’s alright. My favourite characters were Ragna (a kickass shield maiden out for revenge) and the trickster god Loki (they caused so much drama…LOVED THEM!). I do want to point out that this book is truly diverse and like with her previous work, Ember integrates it all so well into the story. It never feels forced or added to attack a particular audience. There are plenty of books like that but not this one! The book features a bisexual main character, female/female romance, an amputee and a gender-fluid character with they/them pronouns.
I can’t recommend this book enough! The way Ember writes left me on the edge of my seat. There are so many twists and turns, none of which I saw coming. I thought the book was going one way and boom! it went somewhere else completely. It’s a fascinating examination of how nothing is truly black or white, good or evil. Humans (or merfolk) make mistakes. Sometimes our choices are driven by greed or jealously but that doesn’t always mean that that person isn’t good. This book really drove home the message that everyone will make mistakes and sometimes you can’t fix them, but what you can do is learn and do better next time.
So…while I loved every bit of this book, I just wished that it was a tiny bit longer. Yup, it’s an issue I have with Ember’s books. The ending wrapped stuff up nicely but I could have used more scenes between Ersel and Ragna. Can I have sequel is please?
Julia Ember is a polyamorous, bisexual writer and native of Chicago who now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Seafarer’s Kiss is her second novel and was influenced by her postgraduate work in medieval literature at The University of St. Andrews. Her first novel, Unicorn Tracks, was published by Harmony Ink Press.