Book: A Song Below Water
Author: Bethany C. Morrow
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 288 (Kindle)
Published: June 2020 (UK)
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Today's book review (one day later than normal, sorry!) is Bethany C. Morrow's 'A Song Below Water'.
Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she's also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.
But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favourite Internet fashion icon reveals she's also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.
(Synopsis from Goodreads - Link)
Black Lives Matter.
Three important words that are seen all over social media, and so they should be! I've signed many petitions and educated myself on the Black Lives Matter movement, and recommend that you do too. If you'd like to, take a look at this site for more information. One of the ways that I wished to educate myself was through reading more books by Black authors, as previously mentioned in my June TBR. This week, I read Morrow's 'A Song Below Water'.
And wow, it's such a beautiful and powerful book!
'A Song Below Water' is split into a dual narrative between two friends, Tavia and Effie. United because of their differences, the two friends (who consider themselves as sisters) feel outcast from society. Tavia is a siren, and sirens are condemned by their alternate society and therefore she must keep her identity a secret or risk being restricted by a silencing collar. Meanwhile, Effie is known as 'Park kid' after being the lone survivor at an incident in a local park, where children were turned to stone.
The book begins as it's revealed a murdered woman (Rhoda) is a siren, and the murderer is deemed 'Not Guilty' as it's thought that Rhoda used her siren-voice to compel him. Because of this and more, Tavia feels outcast because of her identity, and when her favourite YouTuber is revealed to be a siren - her world is turned upside down. Meanwhile, Effie has a secret play life as a mermaid at the Renaissance Faire yet recently she's been shedding lots of skin and experiencing blackouts... she knows there's something her family aren't telling her.
Yet, underpinning all of this is a message on the Black Lives Matter movement. Full of social commentary, protests, empowerment and hope! Through thought-provoking writing, Morrow provides a powerful storyline to highlight racism and social injustice. This book is so raw and powerful - Two girls, questioning whether to keep hidden behind secrets and lies or to stand against society. Morrow deals with many major issues that the Black community is facing, which are incredibly relevant to today.
If you're into fantasy books too, this one has it all! Sirens, mermaids (ish), elokos, sprites and more! Admittedly, this element of the book did confuse me as I hadn't heard of many of these mythical creatures, so it did take me a while to work out who/what they all were. However, if you're into magical realism, then there's certainly plenty to get your teeth in to!
However, while I did enjoy the storyline and the Black Lives Matter message, I did find the book quite slow paced at times and as mentioned above, there's so many different mythological creatures and characters that it was quite confusing. I give this book a rating of three 1/2 stars out of five, because while I highly recommend it due to its social relevance, it was confusing and slow paced at times.
As a trigger warning, it did include suicidal intent (you're welcome to message me for details) and peeling/scratching skin. What did you think of this book? Is it on your TBR?
Note: If I've made any mistakes in this post, please send me a message through my Contact page or social media, as I'd hate to offend anyone and I'm more than happy to correct it - thanks!