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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson

Title: Sailor Twain: Or The Mermaid in the Hudson
Genre: Fantasy

Originally Published: October 2, 2012
Edition Courtney Read Published: 2014
Format: Paperback
Publisher: First Second, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, a division of Macmillan Publishers
ISBN: 978-1-59643-926-9
Source: Purchased

The Story

Sailor TwainFrom the back of the book:

When a riverboat captain rescues a wounded mermaid in the Hudson River, he’s swept up in a calamity that only true love – if there is sucha thing – can avert. A mysterious and beguiling love story with elements from Poe, Twain, Hemingway, and even Greek mythology, Sailor Twain is a study in romance . . . and disaster.

The Response

You know those books when, upon finishing, you need to spend some time just reflecting on them? Soaking up everything that you experienced and coming to terms with the fact that it was over too soon? Guys, that is Sailor Twain. This book is absolutely beautiful and haunting, and I absolutely loved it.

Sailor Twain felt so different from everything else that I’ve been reading lately. It’s pace is slower moving, which suited the story that is being told. As well, it read more like a fairy tale or a legend than it did a modern fantasy story. It weaves together magic and mystery with reality in such a way that it made the magical feel like it was real. It really felt that events in the story could have really happened, and that mermaids and other sea gods could really have existed. This definitely made the story stand out in my mind.

I absolutely love how Siegel was able to weave some mermaid lore into this story, while still managing to bring something original to the table. I especially enjoyed that Siegel took a sinister view of mermaids with his story. The mermaid in Sailor Twain is definitely much closer to the siren-type of mermaid than the Little-Mermaid-type, which definitely added a lot of depth and darkness to this story.

Most of the graphic novels I read are comic-book related, so I found the illustrations in Sailor Twain were very different in style from what I am used to. At first, I had the impression that some features of the people seemed over-stated at first, but soon came to realize that it added a lot more to the book as far as personality and communicated a lot about what each person was feeling. The highlights of the illustrations were, however, the images of boats and creatures on the river. These panels were absolutely and utterly breathtaking. I could smell and feel the river just by looking at these panels. They were just utterly beautiful and transported me to a different place and time.

As I mentioned, the illustrations definitely helped give each of the characters very distinct and different personalities, and were able to show how the characters developed and changed (not necessarily grew, but changed) throughout the story. I can’t decide whether I would or wouldn’t want to know the main characters if I had the chance, but I can certainly understand what their motivations are and can empathize with them all.

The ending of the book… well, it was perfect for the story that was being told. Not everything is perfectly clear at first, so it definitely allows the reader to interpret some things, which I think is what made it stick in my head for so much longer after finishing it.

I think there’s still a little bit of the assumption that comic books and graphic novels are children’s books. I don’t feel I normally need to add this sort of disclaimer, but please note that this book does have some adult themes, so if you are thinking about this for a child or a young adult, please read it first to see whether it would be suitable for that particular individual’s maturity.

The Bottom Line

I absolutely loved this. I want to be able to read it again for the first time. Since I can’t do that, I want you to read it so that I can have someone to discuss it with.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:14 am January 28, 2015.
Category: Speculative Fiction
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  • Lesley Donaldson

    Nice review! I’d love to see more mermaid themed stories go mainstream.