When Julia approached me and asked if I would review The Navigator’s Touch I squealed. I am such a big fan of The Seafarer’s Kiss (my review) and I had already purchased the companion novel! But my schedule is just out of control at the moment, so I suggested a guest post. I am so excited that Julia agreed, because now we get to read about, “Dangerous Ladies on the High Seas”. Can I also just say I have read ALL of these (except one) and I highly second these recommendations!! Without further ado…
Dangerous Ladies on the High Seas
My favorite books about mermaids, pirates, sirens, seafarers, sea witches and all the monstrously wonderful ladies of the deep sea!
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
It’s been years now since I read The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie, but I still think of it as one of my all-time favourite books! The novel follows Cas Leung who trains giant sea monsters called Reckoners that protect ships from pirates. But on her first mission out at sea, Cass is captured by pirates and forced to train Reckoners for them instead. This novel ticked so many boxes for me: incredible fantasy animals who bond with their trainers, slow-burn enemies to lovers f/f romance, pirates and futuristic technology!
I adored this vicious take on The Little Mermaid! Told in dual POV, the novel follows Lira and Elian, two royals from very different worlds. Lira is the daughter of the Sea Witch, in line to inherit her mother’s brutally-won throne. Elian is a pirate prince, more comfortable at sea than he is at home in his golden kingdom. At the beginning of the novel, both characters are out to kill each other. This is a wicked, bloodthirsty and witty novel, and I devoured in a single day!
The November Girl by Lydia Kang
This book is such a hidden gem, and it makes me sad that more people haven’t read it! While not technically a story of the high seas, as it takes place on Lake Superior, it is definitely the tale of a Water Witch. The November Girl also has two protagonists: Hector, a boy on the run from his abusive uncle, and Anda, a half-human witch, who controls the November storms on Lake Superior. Hector travels to Anda’s island and hides until the last of the tourists vanish. He intends to wait out at the abandoned resort town until spring, when he will turn 18 and be free of his uncle for good. Year by year, Anda has been losing her attachment to the human world, so the last thing she expects is to fall for Hector. The prose in this book is absolutely beautiful and both characters are so well developed.
The premise of an all-girl pirate crew was too much for me to pass up, so I bought this on audio the day it came out! Caledonia Styx is the captain of the Mors Navis, a rebel ship hellbent on disruption of drug supply to the empire and its warlord. Caledonia is out for revenge – her entire family was killed by the empire – and she harbors a secret guilt for allowing one of the empire’s princes to escape. The best aspect of this book for me were the female friendships. I adored every member of Caledonia’s crew!
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Another book I read years ago, and still think about all the time. The Girl from Everywhere tells the story of Nix, who has spent her life on a time travelling ship. The ship’s course is controlled by her father, who can go anywhere and to any time, as long as he can find a map. But when they set a course to find Nix’s mother, the outcome of their quest could threaten Nix’s very existence. This novel seamlessly blends fantasy and historical fiction. All of Heidi Heilig’s prose is beautiful, and her first work is no exception.
The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist by SL Huang
For my last selection, I wanted to highlight something a little different! The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist is an adult speculative novelette. At only 66pages, it’s a fun one-sitting read. Told from the perspective of a female scientist, this is a different sort of Little Mermaid retelling. It follows Dr. Cadence Mbella as she documents her research of the atargati – a mermaid like species that dwell in the darkest parts of the ocean. When the US military captures one of the creatures, Cadence fights to bring them back to the ocean. The worldbuilding of the atargati is really cool and unique. All of them a non-binary gender, and are confused with humanity’s obsession with binary. There are many queer characters in the novel, and many neopronouns are represented.
About the Author
Originally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She lives with her girlfriend and their city based menagerie of pets with Harry Potter themed names. Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black the cats currently run her life. Julia is a bisexual writer and regularly takes part in events for queer teens.
Julia began writing at the age of nine, when her short story about two princesses and their horses won a contest in Touch magazine. In 2016, she published her first novella, Unicorn Tracks, with Harmony Ink Press. It also focused on two girls and their equines, albeit those with horns. Her first novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss, was released by Interlude Press in May 2017. It was heavily influenced by her postgraduate work in Medieval literature at the University of St. Andrews. It is now responsible for her love of beluga whales. Its sequel, The Navigator’s Touch, will be published in September 2018.
About The Navigator’s Touch
After invaders destroyed her village, murdered her family, and took her prisoner, shield-maiden Ragna is hungry for revenge. A trained warrior, she is ready to fight for her home, but with only a mermaid and a crew of disloyal mercenaries to aid her, Ragna knows she needs new allies. Guided by the magical maps on her skin, battling storms and mutiny, Ragna sets sail across the Northern Sea.
She petitions the Jarl in Skjordal for aid, but despite Ragna’s rank and fighting ability, the Jarl sees only a young girl, too inexperienced to lead, unworthy of help. To prove herself to the Jarl and win her crew’s respect, Ragna undertakes a dangerous expedition. But when forced to decide between her own freedom and the fate of her crew, what will she sacrifice to save what’s left of her home?