on July 26 2018
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 danger 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.
Thank you to The Write Reads and the author for a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. This review is part of the BBNYA Finalists tour.
I didn’t know what to expect from Our Bloody Pearl by D.N. Bryn. I don’t like pirates (Captain Jack Sparrow might be the only exception), and merfolk/sirens are often hit or miss for me. I read the blurb long ago when BBNYA first started and forgot about it long before I actually read it.
Perl, the main character, is one of the most interesting characters I’ve read about recently. They’re a siren, can’t speak the human language, and have been left with a disabled tail after being captured for a long time. The relationship between Perl and Kian only starts to develop when they learn to sign. I love how Bryn wrote Pearl, how natural it feels to read about signing characters, about looking for adjustments for Perl’s tail so they can swim again. While I initially thought it was about pirates, it’s not about that at all. It’s about recovery, healing, and connection.
The worldbuilding is interesting as Perl and Kian learn more about each other’s worlds. You don’t learn a lot but enough to explain the basics and why things are the way they are. There are no long sections of exposition, only tidbits as the characters communicate. Perl’s voice is unique and I love how Bryn uses it to share another perspective on the world that resembles Earth as we know it. I’m looking forward to reading more by the author.
I give Our Bloody Pearl by D.N. Bryn five stars. I’ve already recommended it to a few friends and I’ll keep this book on my recommendation list for a long time. It has good disability, non-binary, and asexual representation.