Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 133: Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen

by | Dec 26, 2023 | 2023 Book Reviews, Book Reviews, Marion's Reading Life Blog, Wisdom From Kammbia Column | 0 comments

“When I six years old, my favorite book was The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. I remember reading that book over and over again, examining each illustration and convincing myself that it was all real. And even though I never saw myself in that story, I wanted to be a little mermaid, too.”

The preceding paragraph was taken from the author’s note at the conclusion of Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen. Bowen shared how much of an influence Andersen’s The Little Mermaid was on her story. Her admission revealed the power of storytelling and the importance of representation. Stories are universal and everyone wants to see themselves reflected on the page.

Skin of the Sea makes an excellent attempt at showing mermaid and sea culture from a mid-1400s African perspective. It tells the story of Simidele, a mermaid tasked with collecting the souls of the slaves who died at sea and blessing them for their journey to Olodumare (the supreme god). She encounters a young man named Kola and decides to save him because he wasn’t actually dead. However, this was a grave mistake and they have to go on a journey to correct it.

Simi often reflects on her time as human and feels a strong connection to Kola during the journey. She knows that romance isn’t an option between them and Simi has changed the natural order of their sea world with her actions.

Bowen incorporates diverse African mythologies to conclude this coming-of-age adventure tale with both poignancy and brilliance. She showed remarkable worldbuilding and storytelling skills, transporting me to mid-1400s Africa. This is the first book of the series and I’m looking forward to reading the second book, Soul of the Deep, very soon.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Marion Hill