ARC REVIEW: The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

Quick Facts: 

  • my rating: 3 stars
  • published by: Interlude Press
  • genres: fantasy, young adult, lgbt+, retelling
  • diverse: yes



Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.



I was incredibly excited to get my hands on this book when it was pitched to me as a retelling of The Little Mermaid, featuring an f/f romance at the core between a bisexual mermaid, Ersel, and the human lesbian girl she falls for, Ragna. The bisexual element is also ownvoices! SO there was a lot for me to really get excited about going into this book.

And there was alot I really did like about this book. The pacing is great, the action scenes are well written and its a book that really flies by. (Its perfect readathon material, just saying)

The setting was also great! The majority of the book is set underwater in the ice shelf where Ersel the mermaid lives, with the occasional chapter taking place on the ice with Ragna. I enjoyed the way that the mermaid culture is blended in with the setting, as well as the addition of Norse mythology throughout the book. The colourful descriptions of mermaids, the foods they were eating, and the other sea creatures they shared the space with definitely made the setting unique and magical.

The characters were good, I enjoyed the main characters, especially Ersel and Ragna. Ersel is immediately positioned as a sympathetic character, and it’s very easy to identify with her. Ragna is a strong character, and her courage is admirable. Both main characters, though especially Ersel, have strong arcs that display character growth. So the characters were well done.

But there was also a few issues too.  I was initially really excited about the romance – I love wlw relationships and the bisexual representation was a huge appeal to me. But some relationship abuse towards the end of the book which is never addressed or resolved left me annoyed. Toward the end of the book, the main couple both slap eachother in the face – hard enough to draw blood – and neither of them address it or resolve it. I found that very concerning and unappealing.

Rep wise, there has also been a little bit of concern from gender queer reviewers on how Loki was handled. Within text, Loki is written as gender-fluid, non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. The vilification of Loki, including his gender-fluid identity, has raised concern and I will be attaching #OwnVoices reviews that explain this concern below.

However, on a positive note I did want to say in my own opinion, as a bisexual woman, the main character is good bisexual representation, and I really enjoyed that representation. This aspect is #ownvoices.



Overall, The Seafarers Kiss is a fun book which falls down in some important areas – representation and relationships were an issue for me, and I wasn’t entirely convinced by the development of some of the themes. However, bisexual representation was strong, and the development of the setting and worldbuilding was very well done.

It’s an incredibly fun book, which will fly by when you are reading it. The action sequences are strong and keep you turning pages, and the setting is so immersive you’ll forget you aren’t a mermaid living in an ice shelf near Norway.

Thankyou to Julia Ember for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my review!




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