I knew it was a difficult life. I knew it was difficult for people other than me. I also knew they were allowed to say so and I wasn’t.
A Song Below Water follows Tavia and Effie. Two sisters, not by blood, but sisters nonetheless. Together they live in an alternate version of Portland, Oregon, and both of them have to fight their own battles with the usual high school drama, family secrets, crushes and magic.
The story focuses on sisters Tavia and Effie. The two of them are not related by blood but still see each other as family. They live together in Portland – a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. Tavia has to keep her siren identity a secret and tries to find her late siren grandmother in order to give up her voice and her magical powers. Being a siren means to live in fear – just because sirens are said to manipulate the folk around them, causing society trying to keep them under lock and key. With non-siren parents, strict rules for her daily life and a siren’s call that’s burning her throat, Tavia’s life everything but easy.
Effie has different challenges to overcome but still needs to fight. She prefers to stay unseen and only ever starts to bloom when ren fair season starts. As Euphemia the Mer she feels free and like her true self. Her mother introduced her to this lifestyle and since her death, it’s the only thing that connects mother and daughter. But as Effie is being haunted by demons from her past and nothing adds up anymore, all she wishes for is to finally learn about her ancestry.
Overall I enjoyed A Song Below Water – it had so much potential with the system of magical beings and the topic of misogynoir against sirens (who are exclusively black women). The author paired different topics of racism, social justice and current politics with fantastical elements and created an interesting new world. I wished it had been executed a bit better – not in terms of the aforementioned topics. Those were on point and fascinating. But sometimes I felt as if there were some information missing – like some of the lore of the world. On top of that, the most action-packed scenes only happened in the last 30% of the book, though I would have preferred them to start earlier. This is one of the reasons why the rating isn’t as high as I’d liked it to be.
But I still enjoyed the story of Tavia and Effie, the overall lore and the important topics covering all of it. I connected easily with the protagonists and was excited to see what they would discover about themselves. The writing style itself was easy to follow – but the withholding of some important information sometimes made it hard for me to understand what exactly was wrong. This bothered me, because – as I said – I really liked the idea. Still, I’d recommend this book and would encourage anyone who’s interested to read it once it comes out June 2nd 2020 and read it as soon as possible!