Today I’m pleased to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Our Bloody Pearl which came fourth in BBNYA (Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Awards) last year! This is an interesting story and I was attracted to it by the cover. You can read my review and find out more about the book and author below but first I’d just like to thank The Write Reads and BBNYA for the chance to be a part of this tour and for a copy of the book. Now, let’s see what I thought of this…
Title: Our Bloody Pearl (These Treacherous Tides)
Author: D. N. Bryn
Publisher: Bryn Books
Book format: Digital
Description: The ocean is uncontrollable and dangerous. But to the sirens who swim the warm island waters, it’s a home more than worth protecting from the humans and their steam-propelled ships. Between their hypnotic voices and the strength of their powerful tails, sirens have little to fear.
That is, until the ruthless pirate captain, Kian, creates a device to cancel out their songs.
Perle was the first siren captured, and while all since have either been sold or killed, Kian still keeps them prisoner. Though their song is muted and their tail paralyzed, Perle’s hope for escape rekindles as another pirating vessel seizes Kian’s ship. This new captain seems different, with his brilliant smile and his promises that Kian will never again be Perle’s master. But he’s still a human, and a captor in his own way. The compassion he and his rag-tag human family show can’t be sincere… or can it?
Soon it becomes clear that Kian will hunt Perle relentlessly, taking down any siren in her path. As the tides turn, Perle must decide whether to run from Kian forever, or ride the forming wave into battle, hoping their newfound human companions will fight with them.
This adult fantasy novel featuring an nonbinary disabled protagonist is a voyage of laughter and anger where friendships and love abound and sirens are sure to steal—or eat—your heart.
Trigger warnings: mild gore due to carnivorous sirens and sensations of drowning.
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: This is an interesting story which turned out to be different than I had expected. Perle is a siren, a mermaid-like creature which has been captured by the cruel and ruthless pirate captain Kian. When Kian’s ship is attacked though, and a new pirate captain takes control, Perle finds themselves worried that the new captain will be just as cruel as Kian. But Dejean doesn’t seem to be the same, and Perle has to decide whether they can trust Dejean or not.
This is a very different adventure than I first thought it would be. I enjoyed the book from the first pages. We begin to get to know the siren, as they narrate the story, and we begin to get to know the fantasy world in which the story takes place. Although the story takes place during times of pirates, it’s definitely a very different fantasy world with flying machines and vessels powered by more than just the wind. The siren’s narration is good and makes you understand why they are so angry towards all humans at first. I have to say that I love the fact that this book is narrated throughout by a character who isn’t human. The narration, and writing is so good that it instantly sucked me into this world and I enjoyed getting to know all the characters and what was happening.
I like the way that Perle and Dejean begin to communicate once Dejean meets Perle, with signing simple things towards each other after they first meet. However things soon took a different turn than I had expected and the whole story focuses more on the relationship that Perle has with the humans, and coping with their problems being disabled, than the pirate adventure I thought it would be.
I like what happens to Perle and how at first Perle ends up being disabled, unable to act a usual siren and unable to communicate properly to the humans. As the story progresses you see Perle learning to trust certain humans and I love how this relationship developed between Perle and Dejean, and the other humans Perle meets. I like what happens with Perle with their tail and the different things which are tried to help Perle to swim properly in the sea again.
For the most part this story was interesting and made for compelling reading. I really was engaged in the story and couldn’t wait to see what happened to Perle and the others, especially when things got more and more exciting. But I had a few niggles about this book when reading it, such as the speed at which Perle and Dejean go from basic signing used to communicate to simple things to each other, to full blown complex conversations in a matter of days. While the siren can understand humans Dejean can’t understand the siren but within days he seems to understand very detailed conversations. There’s also something about the story, certain parts which just took me out of the book and made the action feel jarring a bit, and it’s the part for which this book is most praised.
I love a book that is inclusive, and I have read a few books which feature topics such as gender identity, sexuality, etc. But this book, at times, felt like it focused too much on these issues, making it more of a discussion about inclusivity, identity, etc, at times, than a story about the siren and pirates. While I understand the importance of talking about these issues in any book, it felt like these parts of the book slowed down the story and almost felt like a chance for the author to explain these issues, rather than showing through the action. For example, the siren, Perle, is neither male or female, and so there is a discussion at some point about how Dejean should refer to the siren, but rather than the conversation flowing freely and him asking whether the siren should be called he, she or something else, and then moving on with the story, instead the discussion goes into too much detail, with both sides discussing gender in their respective species and Dejean even asks Perle which pronouns should be used. It just felt it was too focused on pronouns for a while instead of weaving that issues into the story.
Another brief discussion at the end between two main characters also took me out of the story a bit and spoilt the ending for me a bit as it felt was forced into the story to explain something about characters sexuality, rather than leaving the issue to the readers imagination. None of these issues are a huge deal to me, and the ending of the book was still very good, but it just didn’t flow so well for me when the story switches to these issues of gender identity, disability, etc. These discussions about certain topics could have been woven into the story better without feeling like a forced stopping of the action to have a discussion on certain subjects, the saying ‘show don’t tell’ coming to mind as this felt more ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’.
The story has few uses of the f and s swear words with only one character using them. Though there’s a trigger warning about the gore in the blurb,and it’s true the sirens are carnivorous especially with people, it wasn’t anything really too gory for me to read, a little but not overly so. Overall this story is good and I did enjoy the ending and how things wrap up for everyone. The dramatic climax to the ending was so good and I didn’t know what was going to happen at any moment. I do like the characters and how different they all are and I love the relationships Perle makes with the humans especially Dejean. I do enjoy a book that’s different like this and part of me wishes there was a future book so I could find out what happens to the main characters as they are all so interesting!
I did like this book, but felt like the way it’s described in the blurb differs from most of the book and this perhaps should be made clearer from the start. It sounds like an exciting adventure story, and while it is in parts, it’s also a slower story focusing more on characters rather than action. The representation of disability in the book is good, it’s something there isn’t enough of in literature today. But like with the gender discussion I sometimes felt like there was too much of Perle’s musings on their disability and that of one other charcter, what it means to be disabled, how it does or doesn’t change them, and this again felt like it slowed down the story a bit to make a point. I like a book with inclusivity, and this is definitely a good one if you are looking for that in a story, but for me it just was a bit too obvious and seemed to take away from what was happening in the tale. So a good book but one I just wish hadn’t been so obvious in pointing out the inclusivity issues otherwise I’d have given this a full 5 strawberries!
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About the Author
D.N. Bryn began writing short stories in middle school and has yet to stop. They received their achelors degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UCSD, and enjoy a day job involving espiratory disease research. They bring their love for animals, science, and mythology into all their riting, and are passionate about creating inclusive worlds where a diverse array of characters can go n grand adventures without being hindered by social misconceptions based on their appearance, sexuality, or gender.
BBNYA is a yearly competition where Book Bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website www.bbnya.com or twitter @bbnya_official.
The sign-ups will soon be open for the 2022 BBNYA competition, be it for authors to enter their books, or for bloggers wanting to be part of the new panel, so keep your eyes peeled!!
What do you think of this book? Do you like books that are gender and disability inclusive? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂