ARC Review by Annie: The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

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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.

Goodreads / Amazon / Interlude Press
Release Date: May 4th

reviewedbyannie

A copy of this was provided by the publisher

There had already been a huge hype around this book before I read it, so of course my expectations were raised because I was expecting this to be one of my faves this year. Even though I usually prefer contemporary stories to sci-fi, fantasy etc. But the reception for this had been so great that I got really excited for its release. And at first I was definitely swept away. It drew me in from the first page on and I understood why everyone seemed to love it. But instead of whisking me away until I had read the last page I became a bit frustrated with Ersels actions and – don’t kill me – the book started to drag. I’m happy I didn’t put it aside, because it picked up again toward the end, but overall it was not the amazing book I had expected.

Things I liked about this were how Ember took things from the original Little Mermaid tale and put a new spin to it by weaving norse-mythology into it and making it her own. I really enjoyed that and it created a vivid underwater-world.
I also liked how Ersel didn’t just want to be an “incubator” but wanted to do something with her life. (I was a bit surprised by how misogynistic the mer-society was) While I was, as I already mentioned above, a bit frustrated with her actions, I did like how she grew as a character from first page compared to the last.

When I started The Seafarer’s Kiss I thought that the love story-aspect of this would be more pronounced. But we barely see Ersel and Ragna together on page. This made it hard for me to understand why Ersel would want to be with her so badly.

One thing I can’t get over though, is how the physical abuse was handled. There’s a scene in the book when Ragna and Ersel hit each other. I don’t know how not more reviews mention this, but abuse of any kind are an absolute no go for me. That is where I draw a hard line.
This book is targeted toward teen readers, and I don’t even want to imagine what kind of impact it’ll have them to see an abusive relationship presented like this because it’s not acknowledged. There’s no discussion. The only thing being said about it is that one of them wished she could hit as well as the other and thereby making it an okay thing to do; the other is sorry that she drew blood.
Both characters are strong-willed, but there’s endless possibilities how you could show that without giving abuse a pass. This is exactly what we do not need in books; especially those targeted toward a younger audience.

(Short warning also for how the enby-rep was handled. I’ve seen a couple of reviews by enby-readers talking about the bad enby-rep of The Seafarer’s Kiss because the only enby-character is the villain in this story.)

So, overall this started strong but was rather disappointing in the end. The bi rep – what everyone is talking about when it comes to this book – IS great, but I don’t think I’d recommend it for the reasons I mentioned above.

Genre: Fantasy Genre: Young Adult Orientation: Bisexual Orientation: Lesbian Pairing: F/F Publisher: Interlude Press Review

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