Review #7 : A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.

A Song Below WaterA Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


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E-ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own and are not affected in any way.

Actual rating: 2.5 ⭐

PROS:
• Extremely relevant to our times. Talking about racism and how black women are treated and seen by our society, it is so relevant to our days! We have a place in the front row and we can see how certain things are intentionally mishandled against them.
• Mythical creatures! I mean, who doesn’t love mythical creatures?! Sirens, gargoyles, elokos (whatever these really are, because the author never really tried to explain them) and some more!

CONS:
• Slow pacing. And when I say slow, I mean SLOW! The thing is, I do know to appreciate a slow paced book, but this when the subject requires it. Here it didn’t had it’s place.
• Poor worldbuilding. Something about this world felt a little bit off. It missed something to help keeping all the pieces together. As one of the next point will say, it was all over the place.
• Try too hard writing style. From the between parentheses explained jokes, to trying to combine huge social problems with mythical creatures, it takes a lot of effort. And you can almost feel this effort grabbing you by your cheeks and starring into your eyes while franticly trying to explain you what it tried to do. Kinda how I try to explain it now 🙂
• A semi spoiler in the synopsis. I absolutely hate when this happens! You have something important happening at the middle of the book, exposed in the middle of the synopsis! But I have to say, what I see as semi spoiler, for others might not be at all one. And when I say semi spoiler, I am referring to this: quote “the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren” unquote.
• All over the place. Needs no more explanation. See the next point.
• Unexplained things and references. As I have already said, and will say again, the elokos are not explained. We know just a few things about them and that’s all. Also, when you write a book about black women and you use specific cultural things that the most of the readers don’t understand because they do not live with a black woman or they may not know one, please consider to put a short explanation in the page or chapter foot note. I am pretty sure that most of us would be genuinely curious to know what you, as an author, are talking about, even if it’s a very little thing in your book.

OVERALL THOUGHTS:
The execution of this book is very poor. The topics are important and needs to be more prezent in our current days, but the way the author tried to fit them in the story, is not the best one. The number of pages is way too small for the number of subjects that the author wanted to touch and to discuss, and all is made in a weird slow pacing. And the fact that there are some things left unexplained, does not help either, and the best example to support this, is the fact that the elokos are not at all explained. We know very few things about them. Mythos, assome of them are presented. However, this all over the place book is trying to make some light in how black women are treated by the society and how they can find ways to be strong and fight even when the odds seem to be against them. This and the presence of mythical creatures made me give this book 2.5 stars. Otherwise would have been probably a 1.5 – 2 stars, and that’s a bummer because the idea of the book was so good!!!

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