Published by First Second on March 4th, 2014
Genres: fantasy, graphic novel
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One hundred years ago. On the foggy Hudson River, a riverboat captain rescues an injured mermaid from the waters of the busiest port in the United States. A wildly popular--and notoriously reclusive--author makes a public debut. A French nobleman seeks a remedy for a curse. As three lives twine together and race to an unexpected collision, the mystery of the Mermaid of the Hudson deepens. A mysterious and beguiling love story with elements of Poe, Twain, Hemingway, and Greek mythology, drawn in moody black-and-white charcoal, Sailor Twain is a study in romance, atmosphere, and suspense. Sailor Twain is one of The Washington Post's Top 10 Graphic/Comic Reads of 2012
First things first. This book was totally not what I expected to be, and I mean that in a good way. There was just so much going on here. There were so many different plot threads, and I feel they came together–for the most part–incredibly well. It’s not a perfect book, but stories about mermaids usually do not work out well for me personally. But then this is not a traditional mermaid story either.
Before the old myths got watered down by time and media, mermaids were killer sirens and women who accidentally killed their husbands. They were not your typical red-headed mermaid in love with a human named Eric. Basically, the mermaid myth is pretty freaking tragic, and Sailor Twain takes us back to a time that was just that. This is not your cutesy love story. It’s not just a love story either. It’s about curses, riverboats, murder, and all manner of spooky river tales.
The artwork was pretty remarkable. It’s cartoonish and yet there is so much depth. It’s all done in black and white, and though most of the graphic novels I have read have had panels in color, I actually found this more compelling. Sometimes simplicity really IS better.
My only issue with the book was the ending. It wasn’t bad, by any means, but I did find it rushed and was a bit unclear. I had to backtrack through the pages to figure out the meaning in a couple things, and even then I was still not sure. I just feel like a few more pages could have been used to iron out the clarity issues. But it really was a magical and compelling story.
This review checks off the “New to You Author” square for Bookish Bingo.