Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Lets talk The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

 Hey lovelies, welcome back.

I've never been one to follow prize winning novels. Working as a bookseller, of course I was aware of the awards, shortlist, and subsequent winners, but I never felt compelled to read them because they were critically acclaimed. A couple I have ended up reading afterwards as part of my degree, and have enjoyed and understood their status, but I've never followed the book prizes religiously. But last year I couldn't help but stop and pay attention when I saw the 2020 Costa Book of the Year advertised. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love mermaids! And so, upon seeing the cover for The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey my interest was piqued and as soon as I read the blurb well...  YOOHOO, WATERSTONES!👋 

Cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid, Aycayia is condemned to a life of sorrow and loneliness. That is until she is lured to the surface by a fisherman, David, who sings to himself while waiting for a catch. An unlikely connection forms, and when Aycayia is captured by American tourists, David rescues her and vows to win her trust. Slowly, she transforms into a woman again and their love grows. However, Aycayia's presence makes the townsfolk suspicious and jealous and new curses begin to roll in. With the American tourists hunting her, time is running out. Can they escape the curse forever? 

Based on a Taino folk legend, The Mermaid of Black Conch is magic realism at its finest! Set on the fictional Caribbean island of Black Conch, the tale is told by a myriad of voices through flashbacks between April 1976 and the present day. Aycayia's voice is woven in as verses enhancing the tale’s origins and providing a lyrical tone. 

And just like traditional folktales, there is a heart-breaking ending making this a breathtakingly bittersweet love story. 

Beneath the magical aura, there is a raw and gritty undertone of sexism, chauvinism, predatory behaviour, and post-colonialism. Roffey has cleverly veiled these behind the figure of the mermaid to sensor the graphicness. However, a slight read between the lines reveals the true agenda making this a political read as much as a fictional one.

Unique, wild, and enchanting, The Mermaid of Black Conch is a must-read! 

Until next time, lovelies! 


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