INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The must-read Black mermaid fantasy series that #1 NYT bestselling author Nicola Yoon calls “epic and original,” in which one mermaid takes on the gods themselves. Perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and anyone who can't wait for the live-action The Little Mermaid.
“Evocative.” —Entertainment Weekly
A way to survive.
A way to serve.
A way to save.
Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata—a mermaid—collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.
But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable—she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods.
To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There's the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail . . .
Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she fails, she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.
In Bowen's dazzling debut, rooted in West African mythology and mid-1400s history, Simidele is a mermaid, or Mami Wata, tasked by orisa Mother Yemoja to collect and usher to the afterlife the souls of deceased West African people thrown overboard from passing slave ships. When a living teen named Kola lands in the water during a violent storm, Simi defies Yemoja and Olodumare, the Supreme Creator, and saves his life. Haunted by the memory of the captured human girl she was before she was "remade" into a Mami Wata by Yemoja, Simi pleads with Yemoja for help returning the boy home, whatever the cost. To protect her Mami Wata family from certain death at Olodumare's hand, she travels with Kola to make restitution. But there is something deadly pursuing Simi, and it has a terrible plan. Reinvigorating the image of West Africa as not merely a site of human suffering but a historical place of great invention, fellowship, and hope, Bowen relays a story as lushly described as it is cinematic, centering a brave, headstrong protagonist coming into her own power in an age of change. Ages 14 up. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House.