Hi everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing Skin Of The Sea by Natasha Bowen.
Skin Of The Sea follows the protagonist, Simidele, who is a member of the Mami Wata (mermaids who collect the souls of people who die at sea and bless their journey home). When a boy is thrown over a ship of enslaved people, Simidele saves his life – and goes against an ancient degree in the process, putting the whole of the Mami Wata in danger. To save them, she must make the dangerous journey to the Supreme Creator to ask for forgiveness – but will she make it before it’s too late?
Honestly, I didn’t love this as much as I thought I would. I was so excited to read it when it came out back in November 2021 and it just didn’t do that much for me, which was really disappointing! The premise in this was so good, the general idea of black mermaids saving the souls of those from slave ships was fascinating and Simidele’s journey was also really interesting, but I just felt the execution fell flat.
With that being said, the aspect which I enjoyed the most in this book was definitely the references to African mythology. It was really nice seeing how obviously well researched it was, and I definitely appreciated this. I also found it really interesting learning more about all the different gods, and I really enjoyed Simidele’s interactions with them – they were a major highlight for me.
I also really liked the relationship between Simidele and Kola. Despite the two never actually getting together, I found the execution of this really good. I loved the interactions and obvious tension between them and I found myself rooting for them to be together, even if I knew that wasn’t possible.
The friendship was also excellent. I really liked the bond Kola, Bem and Yinka all shared in particular, which was helped by their long history. Yinka in particular was really protective over Kola, and I loved that they were like a mini family – their interactions always made me smile.
However, that’s pretty much where the positives ended for me. Having a connection with the characters is really important for me to enjoy a book, and I just felt no connection to the characters whatsoever. I don’t think any of them were developed enough and there was also literally no character development from the beginning to the end, which was really disappointing to see. The characters all felt really one dimensional and it meant that I just wasn’t that invested in the story.
Of course, this wasn’t helped by the weird pace of the book. It felt like nothing happened in at least the first two thirds of this and I really struggled to get through the pages. I’m someone who really appreciates lots of action in my books and I found this to be incredibly lacking, until the last 70 or so pages where it was all crammed in.
The lack of action probably wasn’t helped by the visions, either. Throughout the book, Simidele had flashbacks of her old life as human, and I found they really slowed the book down even more. Just when something vaguely interesting started happening Simidele it seemed Simidele would get another vision, which was a little frustrating. With that being said, they did allow for some more exploration of ancient African culture, history, and knowledge, which I did enjoy – I just thought they could’ve been dialed down a bit.
What really sealed the deal for me, though, was when the twist was revealed. It was something I’d seen coming literally as soon as the relevant character was introduced and it was such a let down. I know that predictability can be a good thing but it was way too obvious and it completely spoiled the reveal for me, as I’d seen it coming a mile off.
Overall, I would still recommend this for anyone who likes mermaids or The Little Mermaid retellings, as this was a really unique addition to the collection – I’d just go in with few expectations. I’d also recommend it for anyone interested in African mythology, as this was a really big part of the book and something that I learnt a lot more about through it.
Have you read Skin Of The Sea yet? Will you be adding it to your tbr? Let me know in the comments!
I hope you enjoyed this review!