Friday 28 February 2020

Mermaid Moon by Susann Cokal - February Book of the Month

Every so often a book comes along and I'm utterly enchanted and not by the story itself but by the front cover.

Mermaid Moon is the latest novel from award winning author Susann Cokal.


I received a copy in the post (a real surprise) and with no obligation to review it, I simply sat down and enjoyed the tale presented in front of me.

Sanna is a mermaid — but she is only half seavish. 

The night of her birth, a sea-witch cast a spell that made Sanna’s people, including her landish mother, forget how and where she was born. Now Sanna is sixteen and an outsider in the seavish matriarchy, and she is determined to find her mother and learn who she is. She apprentices herself to the witch to learn the magic of making and unmaking, and with a new pair of legs and a quest to complete for her teacher, she follows a clue that leads her ashore on the Thirty-Seven Dark Islands. There, as her fellow mermaids wait in the sea, Sanna stumbles into a wall of white roses thirsty for blood, a hardscrabble people hungry for miracles, and a baroness who will do anything to live forever.

The front cover depicts a majestic mermaid surrounded by blooming white roses covered in what appears to be spatters of blood and a towering castle standing tall in the background.

Intrigue immediately increases.

The prologue

The story begins with a baby being born. But not just any baby because this special child will be born part human, part mermaid.

A girl Sanna, who is surrounded by love but also shrowded in mystery because no-one, no matter who you ask can remember the circumstances surrounding her birth or even who her mother was.

Well no-one except Sjaeldent - the oldest sea witch of their flok.

Blood calls to blood; charm calls to charm.
It is the way of the world.
Come close and tell us your dreams.

Sanna becomes increasingly curious as she gets older, more so because she never feels like she fully belongs. Her skills, her looks, everything about her never quite matches others within the flok.

Why is she the odd one out?

I'd describe this as a coming of age story with a difference. We see Sanna navigate her way through foreign lands with foreign legs (literally, as she is born of water) and take on a stronger magic that she doesn't yet possess. 

Chapters with bite

Each chapter is relatively short, snappy if you will.

And after most chapters there are some folk like mermaid songs which add a real mythical element to the book.

Three, hearts, eight arms, one beak for biting -
Would you rather love an octopus or me?
Come deep, come deep.

This gives the book a fairly fast pace and is story telling at its best. Not your typical Disney fairytale, quite feminist in its delivery and rolling with our modern as it is also very pro LGBTQ.

The villain, Baroness Thyrla appears to hold a lot of power, what lies beneath her eye mask is anyones guess. Her people feel indebted to her, almost hypnotised by her.

I really liked the similarities and differences between the merfolk and the people on land.

Each learning something from the other.

A tale as old as time

This might not be a book for fans of The Little Mermaid.

Darker and with characters that are each damaged in their own way. If you like fantasy stories and this a good one.

Not great.

My reason for that is that story didn't feel complete when I reached the end. The plot to find Sanna's mother seemed to get lost within other sub-plots.

Perhaps a second book to bring the story full circle?

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