I received this book to read and review as part of the 2021 BBNYA competition and the BBNYA tours organised by the TWR Tour team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.
BBNYA is a yearly competition where Book Bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website http://www.bbnya.com or twitter @bbnya_official.
The sign-ups will soon be open for the 2022 BBNYA competition, be it for authors to enter their books, or for bloggers wanting to be part of the new panel, so keep your eyes peeled!!
The ocean is uncontrollable and dangerous. But to the sirens who swim the warm island waters, it’s a home more than worth protecting from the humans and their steam-propelled ships. Between their hypnotic voices and the strength of their powerful tails, sirens have little to fear.
That is, until the ruthless pirate captain, Kian, creates a device to cancel out their songs.
Perle was the first siren captured—but the only one Kian still keeps prisoner. Song muted and tail paralyzed, Perle’s hope for escape finally rekindles as another pirating vessel seizes Kian’s ship. This new captain seems different, with his brilliant smile and his promises that Kian will never again be Perle’s master. But he’s still a human, and a captor in his own way. The compassion he and his rag-tag human family show can’t be sincere… or can it?
Soon it becomes clear that Kian will hunt Perle relentlessly, taking down any siren in her path. As the tides turn, Perle must decide whether to run from Kian forever, or ride the forming wave into battle, hoping these newfound human companions will fight with them.
Our Bloody Pearl was an unexpected surprise for me. I knew nothing about the story or it’s author, but thought it sounded interesting when the Write Reads offered it for review. I am so glad I took a chance with it as it has fast become one of my favourite reads of this year so far.
It is a character driven fantasy set in a steampunk world, and those characters are masterfully drawn. The two main protagonists being the siren who becomes known as Perle, a captive of the cruel antagonist Captain Kian, a fearsome pirate who has been torturing them for an unknown but lengthy expanse of time; and pirate Captain Dejean Gayle, who overpowers the ship and its captain and saves Perle:
“These new humans can be here for only one purpose: to learn how Kian captured my kind without succumbing to our songs. But what will they do with me? Kian held the other sirens she caught for a week or two, their voices echoing from the other end of the ship in choruses I can no longer create. Once we reached a harbor, they were sold to humans on shore. But through every cycle, Kian kept me.“
Kept in a small tub with stagnant water Perle’s gills have closed up and the ability to produce siren song has been taken away. A heavy metal weight placed on their tail has disabled them and kept them in one position for the entirety of their captivity. There are sores on their elbows and their mental health is suffering from the constant broken ribs and punches they have endured at the hands of Kian:
“She crashes through my dreams like a vengeful current, impenetrable and untouchable.”
Sirens are able to change sex as circumstances within their pod require, so ‘they’ and ‘them’ pronouns are used to describe them. There are many such details about sirens included in the world-building of this book, which help to make it a rich and believable story.
It takes an awful lot for Perle to learn to trust Dejean and understand that he only wants to help them to heal. Eventually they form a family-like pod along with Dejean’s sister Murielle who was a wonderful, larger than life character who I adored. A talented engineer, she has a habit of storing her tools in her unruly mass of curly hair. Frightened she might not be able to keep the secret of Perle she takes to wearing a large cloak to stop people from approaching her:
“A figure marches into view of the side windows, a dark cloak billowing dramatically around them. Very dramatically. Almost too dramatically.
Dejean’s eyes go wide and then he laughs, a soft, contained noise, squeaking in his throat. Not until the intruder shoves through the door do I understand. A dark, fluffy mess of hair springs to life as Murielle throws back her dark hood, grinning.”
Perle has to come to terms with the fact that Kian has permanently damaged their tail. When Dejean’s shoulder is also damaged by another siren it becomes apparent that someone should not just be cast aside as useless when they are damaged, which is usually the siren’s way. This important lesson adds to Perle’s increasing humanity. As they live with DeJean they are becoming more and more human and it seems increasingly likely that a full life in the ocean may be impossible in the future.
“But the inability to do all that you once could isn’t the same as uselessness. It’s a change, a painful one, but still just a change. Nothing less, nothing more. Dejean won’t be fine, but he’s here. As long as he lives, I can accept him as he is.”
Perle comes to a tragic conclusion about their future and the future of their human pod:
“Kian’s a monster. As long as she has the means, she’ll murder or capture all my kind. It was hard enough for us to deal with traps and poisons. With Kian hunting us, the sirens won’t keep to their rules or territories for much longer. If Storm’s any indication, there will be worse conflict to come, and death with it.”
There follows an exciting plan to bring down Kian once and for all in true swashbuckling pirate style and the pace and action are ramped up enormously in the final quarter of the book.
“You’re no different from humans,” she snarls. “Both of us are monsters.”
Our Bloody Pearl is an uncompromising story of cruelty and compassion, learning to live with disability, acceptance of ‘the other’, found family and the power of love in all its many flavours and I cannot recommend it more highly!
About the Author
D.N. Bryn began writing short stories in middle school and has yet to stop. They received their bachelors degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UCSD, and enjoy a day job involving respiratory disease research. They bring their love for animals, science, and mythology into all their writing, and are passionate about creating inclusive worlds where a diverse array of characters can go on grand adventures without being hindered by social misconceptions based on their appearance, sexuality, or gender.