I received an ARC from Pegasus Books, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Title: The Oyster Thief
Author: Sonia Faruqi
Release date : 1/11/2018(UK)
16/10/2018 (US and Kindle)
“It took her a journey across the ocean to learn what she knew of love and fear and hate, but the essence of it came to her in an instant, as she succumbed to the churning black depths of the deep sea.”
Coralline is a shy mermaid in the Atlantic Ocean whose idyllic life is ruined by an oil spill that gravely sickens her little brother. Desperate to save him, she embarks on a quest to find a legendary elixir.
She encounters a human man, Izar, who’s left his life on land behind to find a cure for his dying father. He doesn’t tell her that his family runs Ocean Dominion, an enemy corporation whose ships plunder her waters daily.
Fate pushes the two of them together, even though their worlds are at odds. Accompanied by a colorful troupe of animals, Coralline and Izar travel through coral reefs and seabed cities, trailed by murderous adversaries and warring ships. Their secrets threaten to tear them apart, while a growing attraction adds to the danger. Ultimately, each of them faces an impossible choice. Should Coralline remain with the world she knows, including her fiancé, or should she relinquish everything for a stranger who might betray her? And Izar holds a secret of his own—one that might cause him to lose Coralline forever.
Magnificent and moving, set against a breathtaking ocean landscape, The Oyster Thief is an enthralling fantasy destined to become a classic.
Content Warning: attempted sexual assault.
Oh it is so hard to classify this book in the best possible way! We are treated to mysterious backstories with murder and betrayal, a epic journey to find a mythical potion, the political machinations of a dark and seedy company, a who-done-it mystery, social climbing and a rather sweet love triangle (and they are really not my thing, but I liked this one). All of this is set in one of the most interesting and unusual imaginations of an underwater society I have encountered.
2018 really has been the year of mermaid based books and this really does shine amongst them all. It creates a world like no other. I had never thought about merpeople having career paths or their village life etc.etc. The world-building was just really creative and really made this book for me. I also really enjoyed the environmental themes that were woven throughout the text.
The books follows the perspectives of two characters Coralline a young trainee apothecary mermaid and Izar a successful human who is the adopted heir to a large Ocean harvesting company. I did find Coralline to be a bit naive for a 20 year old, it may be that she was intended to be quiet a sheltered individual but with all her drive and ambition and stubbornness her naive attitude didn’t really gel. There was a bit of a mixed message about her being strong and independent but also seemed to just have no say or even opinion of her own love life. She just seemed to shrug her way along. Izar was a more interesting character to me, his back story while obvious at points also took quite sharp turns. I feel this may also be down to the structure of jumping between perspectives which keeps tension high in areas of the story. I also think Ecklon (Coralline’s other half) was slightly underutilised. I would love to have more of him and his detective agency.
Overall, I really did enjoy this read and would recommend it to those that have followed the wave (pun very much intended) of mermaid books we have faced this year and was looking for something a bit different from the rest!