Monday 6 February 2023

Book Review | The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey | prettylittlewriter

In 1976, David is fishing off the island of Black Conch when he comes upon a creature he doesn't expect: a mermaid by the name of Aycayia. Once a beautiful young woman, she was cursed by jealous wives to live in this form for the rest of her days. But after the mermaid is caught by American tourists, David rescues and hides her away in his home, finding that, once out of the water, she begins to transform back into a woman.

Now David must work to win Aycayia's trust while she relearns what it is to be human, navigating not only her new body but also her relationship with others on the island--a difficult task after centuries of loneliness. As David and Aycayia grow to love each other, they juggle both the joys and the dangers of life on shore. But a lingering question remains: Will the former mermaid be able to escape her curse?’

This was a beautiful and heart-breaking tale surrounding a young woman in the midst of her sexual discovery, and how she was treated for being young and beautiful. This woman also happened to be a mermaid.


It took me a little while to get used to the language used within this book, with our characters and narrator speaking via the native dialect of Black Conch island, but once I got into the story, it was easy to understand.


Most of the characters within this novel were abhorrent; David, Aycayia, Antonia and her son being the only ones that seemed to have any compassion, so it was a continuous battle for me to stop myself throwing the book across the room in frustration!

Priscilla was one of the worst characters for me, trying to ruin David’s life because he wasn’t interested in her as a mate was incredibly spiteful.


I had so much sympathy for Aycayia; she was a lost soul who managed to find a little light in her life through David and Reggie, but she was never really free. What she went through at the hands of some vile people, was unbelievably cruel and it’s a wonder she survived so long.


There were some moments within the novel that I found myself cringing at, and not because those scenes were badly written, but because I could picture them as they were happening, and it was hard to read. There’s a particular moment near the beginning, Aycayia has been captured and is hanging upside down on the dock, that really made me shudder and I still find it hard just thinking about it.  


Just a guess on my part, but I believe the main aim of this novel was to showcase how terribly judgemental humans can be, and how sometimes, those judgements cannot be taken back, and the damage is done. Humans can be incredibly cruel, especially towards something they don’t understand.


Overall I really enjoyed the story, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoyed other books such as Where The Crawdads Sing & The Island.


4/5 stars

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